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Phosphates in processed foods may hike blood pressure

DALLAS – Aug. 1, 2016 – A diet high in phosphates, which are often present in large quantities in processed foods and cola drinks, may lead to increases in blood pressure, especially during exercise.

Dr. Wanpen Vongpatanasin, a hypertension specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, said the typical American diet includes about double the amount of phosphate as recommended. “Inorganic phosphates are added in large quantities to processed foods as preservatives and flavor enhancers,” says Dr. Vongpatanasin, Professor of Internal Medicine.

Phosphates occur naturally in many foods, including dairy products, meat, fish, and baking powder, but it is the consumption of fast foods, processed foods, and bottled drinks that can push phosphate levels up, she says. For example, a block of Parmesan cheese contains phosphates, but when Parmesan is sold in a grated or shredded form, additional phosphates may be added to keep it from sticking. When examining food labels, look for anything that contains “phos,” such as calcium phosphate, disodium phosphate, or monopotassium phosphate.

Dr. Vongpatanasin holds the Norman and Audrey Kaplan Chair in Hypertension

Media Contact: 214-648-3404 or news@utsouthwestern.edu