We all know how important it is to control the sugar and carbohydrates in one's diet, so we read food labels and labor over caloric intake and FDA recommended vitamin, sodium and trans fat levels. However, most fruit drink and soda companies disguise heart damaging sugar as "high fructose corn syrup" on labels, a product name which has been on the market since the 1970's. This directly has a relation to a person's high blood pressure, stroke, choice of beverages, overall eating habits and health.
Every extra sugar-sweetened beverage drunk per day participants on average had significantly higher systolic blood pressure by 1.6 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure higher by 0.8 mm Hg. This remained statistically significant even after adjusting for differences in body mass.
A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high. About two-thirds of people over age 65 have high blood pressure. If a person's blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, then that qualifies as prehypertension. This means that you don't have high blood pressure now but are likely to develop it in the future.
According to research published in the American Heart Association's Hypertension publication, higher blood pressure was more pronounced in people who consumed high levels of both sugar and sodium. Ok that makes sense, but it really is about the eating habits related to the consumption of high sugar and sodium levels that contribute to heart problems and stroke.
Ian Brown, Ph.D., research associate at Imperial College London comments:
"People who drink a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages appear to have less healthy diets. They are consuming empty calories without the nutritional benefits of real food. They consume less potassium, magnesium and calcium. One possible mechanism for sugar-sweetened beverages and fructose increasing blood pressure levels is a resultant increase in the level of uric acid in the blood that may in turn lower the nitric oxide required to keep the blood vessels dilated. Sugar consumption also has been linked to enhanced sympathetic nervous system activity and sodium retention."
In another study started in 1993, researchers asked subjects of 63% women and 21% male, 24% African American and 53% Hispanic to report how much and what kind of soda they drank. Seven categories emerged: no soda (meaning less than one soda of any kind per month); moderate regular soda only (between one per month and six per week), daily regular soda (at least one per day); moderate diet soda only; daily diet soda only; and two groups of people who drink both types: moderate diet and any regular, and daily diet with any regular.
In almost 10 full years of follow up, 187 ischemic strokes were reported. Researchers calculated that stroke risk, independent of hypertension, increased 16% for every 500 mg of sodium consumed per day.
Paul Elliott, Ph.D., senior author and professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London continues:
"This points to another possible intervention to lower blood pressure. These findings lend support for recommendations to reduce the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, as well as added sugars and sodium in an effort to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health."
Those who did not consume sugar-sweetened beverages had lower average body mass index (BMI) than those who consumed more than one of these drinks daily. It was not just the soda, but the overall eating and drinking habits of those that choose soda over water for example.
Sources: The American Heart Association Newsroom and Hypertension Journal
Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.