Posted on May 15, 2020, 1 p.m.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association drinking one or more sugary beverages a day was associated with a 20% greater likelihood of women having cardiovascular disease than those who rarely or never drank such beverages; and daily consumption of fruit drinks with added sugars was associated with a 42% greater likelihood.
In the ongoing California Teacher’s Study drinking one or more of any type of sugary beverage on a daily basis was associated with a 26% higher likelihood of needing revascularization procedure, and a 21% higher likelihood of having a stroke compared to those who rarely drank or never drank sugary beverages.
In this study sugary beverages were defined as being caloric soft drinks, sweetened bottled waters or teas, and fruit drinks with added sugar but not 100% fruit juices. This study involved over 106,000 women with an average age of 52 without heart disease, stroke, or diabetes when enrolling in the study. How much the participants drank was reported via food questionnaires, and inpatient hospitalization records were used to determine whether a participant had experienced a heart attack, stroke, or surgery to open clogged arteries.
Those with the highest sugar sweetened intake tended to be younger, more likely to be smokers, obese, and less likely to eat healthy foods, and there were also differences based on the type of beverages the participants drank. Drinking one or more sugar added fruit drinks daily was associated with a 42% greater likelihood of having cardiovascular disease, and drinking soft drinks/pop/soda on a daily basis was associated with a 23% higher risk of cardiovascular disease overall compared to participants who rarely or never drank sugary beverages.
"Although the study is observational and does not prove cause and effect, we hypothesize that sugar may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in several ways. It raises glucose levels and insulin concentrations in the blood, which may increase appetite and lead to obesity, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease," said lead study author Cheryl Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S., professor and interim chair of Family and Public Health, University of California San Diego, and chair of the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee.
"In addition, too much sugar in the blood is associated with oxidative stress and inflammation, insulin resistance, unhealthy cholesterol profiles and type 2 diabetes, conditions that are strongly linked to the development of atherosclerosis, the slow narrowing of the arteries that underlies most cardiovascular disease," said Anderson.
According to recommendations from The American Heart Association adding sugar should be limited to no more than 100 calories per day for most women, and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. Sugar sweetened beverages are the biggest source of added sugars in the typical American diet with one 12 ounce can of soda containing around 8 teaspoons of sugar. Diet soda may provide an alternative to reducing sugar, but these still include artificial sweeteners. Water still remains the most healthy and accessible beverage option to drink on a regular basis.
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