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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Cut Back on Sodas to Lower Blood Pressure

Drinking Fewer Sweetened Drinks Reduces Blood Pressure, Study Finds
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Sugary Drinks and Blood Pressure continued...

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.

Exactly what accounts for this independent effect is not known, but several theories exist. For example, these beverages are often loaded with sodium, which can increase blood pressure, and the sugar in the drinks may increase levels of hormones known as catecholamines, which can cause blood pressure to rise.

George Bakris, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Hypertension Center at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, says that uric acid also plays a role.

“High fructose corn syrup increases uric acid levels, which has been shown to increase high blood pressure,” says Bakris, who is also the president of the American Society of Hypertension.

“Read labels because high fructose corn syrup has to be listed on the label,” he says. “If you even reduce what you are taking in by 50% over time, you will see a benefit,” he says.

It’s not just soft drinks either. “It’s in ketchup and a lot of condiments and sauces that people eat and don’t appreciate,” he says.

More Fuel for the ‘Soda Tax’

“There is a mile-long list of studies that show the negative impact of consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and this study is more proof that something needs to be done to change the disease burden caused by these drinks," says Kelly Brownell, PhD, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. He advocates a tax on these beverages.

As it stands, up to 20 cities and states are considering imposing such a levy on soda. “None of the taxes have passed yet, but it is just a matter of time,” he says.

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