Cut Back on Sodas to Lower Blood Pressure
Drinking Fewer Sweetened Drinks Reduces Blood Pressure, Study Finds
May 24, 2010 -- Cutting back on sugary sodas and other sweet beverages may help lower blood pressure, according to new research in Circulation.
Previous studies have linked sugary beverages to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, but the new study is one of the first to show that drinking too many sweetened beverages can increase blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is considered a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
“Cutting back soda consumption will benefit your blood pressure,” says researcher Liwei Chen, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Louisiana State University Health Science Center School of Public Health in New Orleans.
Sugary Drinks and Blood Pressure
The new study involved 810 adults aged 25 to 79 with prehypertension or early stage 1 hypertension who were taking part in an 18-month study designed to prevent or reduce high blood pressure with weight loss, exercise, and diet.
Prehypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure reading between 120 and 139 or a diastolic blood pressure of 80 to 89. Stage 1 hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure between 140 and 159 or a diastolic blood pressure between 90 and 99. Systolic blood pressure is the upper number in a blood pressure measurement and refers to the pressure when the heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure, the lower number, is the pressure between beats. A blood pressure reading of less than 120/80 is considered ideal.
Most people in the study drank an average of 10.5 fluid ounces of sugar or high fructose corn syrup-sweetened beverages a day including non-diet soft drinks, fruit drinks, lemonade, and fruit punch when the study began.
Halving their soda intake resulted in a 1.8 point reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 1.1 point drop in diastolic pressure.
The public health benefit is “substantial,” she says. A 3-point reduction in systolic blood pressure should reduce risk of death after stroke by 8% and heart disease mortality by 5%, according to information cited in the new report.
Americans drink about 2.3 servings or 28 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages each day, and one in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
“Soda consumption is so popular and high blood pressure is a very significant health problem, and if you reduce sugary drinks, you will reduce your blood pressure in the short term and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke over the long term,” she tells WebMD.
Sodium, Uric Acid Affect Blood Pressure
Although weight loss accounted for some of these blood pressure-lowering effects, cutting back on sweetened drinks also had an independent effect on blood pressure levels.