Could you reduce your blood pressure by cutting back on how many soft drinks you consume each day? Yes, according to researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, who say eliminating just one sugary beverage can help.
Americans love soft drinks. According to the March 24, 2010 issue of Beverage Digest, about 9.4 billion cases of soft drinks were sold in the United States in 2009. The latest figures from the Centers for Science in the Public Interest show that in 2009, companies produced 543 eight-ounce servings per person, which translates into about 140 empty calories for every man, woman, and child in the United States.
According to Liwei Chen, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Public Health at LSU, results of a new study indicate that the sugar in soft drinks appears to have an impact on blood pressure. However, “we found no association for diet beverage consumption or caffeine intake and blood pressure,” noted Chen.
The study involved 810 adults whose dietary intake and blood pressure were evaluated by a research team at baseline and at six and 18 months. After allowing for known risk factors for high blood pressure, the investigators discovered that reducing intake of a sugary beverage by one serving per day was associated with a decline of 1.8 mmHg in systolic pressure and 1.1 mmHg in diastolic pressure over 18 months.
Previous studies have shown that soft drink consumption has a significant impact on health. In a meta-analysis of 88 studies, researchers reported in the American Journal of Public Health that there is a clear association between soft drink intake and increased body weight, lower consumption of calcium and other nutrients, and an increased risk of several medical conditions, including diabetes.
In a study published in February 2010, investigators reported that individuals who drank two or more soft drinks per week had a nearly twofold increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer when compared with people who did not consume soft drinks.
High blood pressure is a significant health challenge in the United States, affecting about 74.5 million people, according to the American Heart Association. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for stroke, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, and a shortened life span.
Reducing one’s consumption of soft drinks is associated with several health benefits, and this latest study indicates that lowering blood pressure is among them. “More research is needed to establish the causal relationship,” noted Chen, “but in the meantime, people can benefit right now by reducing their intake of sugary drinks by at least one serving per day.”
American Heart Association
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