A corn syrup used as an ingredient in many processed foods and soft drinks could be a major contributory factor to high blood pressure, research suggests.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was introduced 20 years ago and was originally deemed to be a "healthy" method of sweetening - but views have changed considerably since then.
Although healthy amounts of fructose exist naturally in fruit, excessive amounts could prove harmful as large quantities of fructose cause the liver to pump fats into the bloodstream and that can damage arteries.
Researchers who carried out the new study in the US looked at more than 4,500 adults with no prior history of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
Fructose intake was calculated using a dietary questionnaire which asked participants to rate their consumption of foods such as fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products and confectionery.
The study found that people who ate or drank more than 74 grams of fructose per day - equivalent to 2.5 sugary soft drinks - increased their risk of developing high blood pressure. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology in San Diego, California.