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Sugary soft drinks linked to increased blood pressure

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New research suggests that consuming soda and other sugary soft drinks can cause a significant increase in blood pressure. The findings of the new study showed a direct correlation between the number of sugary beverages consumed and the elevation in blood pressure. A full report on the study was recently published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London discovered that for each sugary consumed by study participants during a given day, systolic (upper measurement) blood pressure was increased by 1.6 millimeters of mercury, while diastolic pressure (lower measurement) rose by 0.8 mm Hg.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugars found in the diet of Americans. The study showed that more elevated blood pressure levels were seen in those participants who consumed larger amounts of glucose and fructose, which are contained in the beverage industry’s most commonly used sugar sweetener known as high-fructose corn syrup.

The study involved 2,696 Americans and Britons ranging in age from 40 to 59. The participants answered a detailed questionnaire about their lifestyle, and were also interviewed by members of the research team regarding their dietary habits. In addition to evaluating the diet of their subjects, researchers tested their urine and measured their blood pressure on four separate occassions.

According to study co-author Ian J. Brown, Ph.D., the greatest increase in blood pressures were observed among those participants who consumed the highest number of sugar-sweetened beverages in addition to having the highest level of salt intake. Brown acknowledged it has long been known that salt is a risk factor for high blood pressure. Regarding the results of the study, he noted, “Our findings suggest that sugar and salt together may be worse than salt alone.”

Brown also pointed out that study participants who consumed more than one sugary drink daily added an average of 400 empty calories having no nutritional value, but calories that can lead to extra weight and complications. Instead of choosing to consume these sugary drinks, Brown suggested, “Maybe they should consider heart-healthy alternatives including water and unsweetened teas.” He then added, “By doing so they’re not just making improvements to their blood pressure, which is suggested by the research that we’ve done, but also this may have other benefits for their heart health, including improvements in weight and reduced risk of diabetes.”

According to Brown, the study also found that those participants who consumed sweetened beverages were more likely to have a less healthy dietary intake. Their Diet were found to be lacking in minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, potassium and calcium that could have beneficial effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular health.

The study findings showed no link between diet soda and blood pressure levels. However, those who consumed diet soda were noted to have a higher body mass index, and lower levels of physical activity in comparison to those who did not.

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of the discretionary calorie allowance consumed come from added sugars. In addition, having high blood pressure puts an invidual at greater risk for for heart disease and stroke. As March kicks off National Nutrition Month, now would be a good time to focus on making better informed food choices and working toward developing healthy dietary habits for the preservation of your health and well-being. (Healthnews.com)

By Drucilla Dyess




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