It's well-established that drinking soft drinks and other sugary beverages raises your risk of obesity and diabetes. As if you needed another reason to cut back on the sweet stuff, a new study suggests that sugary drinks can boost your blood pressure, too.
According to the study, even one sweetened drink per day can contribute to higher blood pressure. And the more sugary beverages you drink, the higher your blood pressure is likely to be. Here are the full findings, which appear in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension.
Study ties drinking just one sugary drink per day to higher blood pressure
The study looked at about 2,700 middle-aged men and women living in the United States and United Kingdom. It found that for each sugary drink – think soft drinks, lemonade and fruit juice – that the study participants consumed on a daily basis, their systolic and diastolic blood pressure
increased by 1.6 and 0.8 points respectively. A blood pressure reading consists of your systolic pressure over your diastolic pressure.
The researchers noted that a blood pressure increase of this magnitude isn’t a cause for major concern, so you shouldn’t necessarily take these results too seriously. However, these blood pressure increases could add up to substantial public health risks when they’re multiplied across entire populations, points out Dr John Bisognano, MD, the director of outpatient cardiology and hypertension at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the United States.
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“From a public health standpoint, if you could lower blood pressure 1 to 2 points in individuals over a community, it's a big deal,” Dr Bisognano said. “It could translate into fewer strokes and maybe fewer heart attacks.”
Nevertheless, the researchers said these findings suggest that people should consider cutting back on sugary drinks to improve their blood pressure readings and overall heart health.
Water and 100% fruit juice are good alternatives to sugary drinks
Even though 100% juice contains sugar and a high calorie count, you should limit your intake to one serving per day, suggests Ian Brown, PhD, a research associate at Imperial College London and one of the authors of the study.
“Moderation in everything is the bottom line here,” Dr Bisognano added. “There’s a whole list of choices to make that could all make small differences, but an answer to high blood pressure
or to cardiovascular risk isn’t going to be one specific thing.”