sugar and blood pressure

Want to Lower Your Blood Pressure? Cut Out the Colas

Eliminating one sugary drink per day could produce a measurable improvement in your blood pressure, suggests new research.

By Adam Bean

Want to Lower Your Blood Pressure? Cut Out the Colas

Replacing one soda per day with a glass of water is a healthy move for your blood pressure.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Sweet drinks, be they Coke, Pepsi, fruit punch, lemonade, or one of the countless others that have flooded the market, have been linked with increased risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Not to mention what they can do to your teeth. Time to add another potential drawback of drinking too many sugary drinks: Doing so may increase your risk of hypertension, according to new research on sugar and blood pressure.

THE DETAILS: As reported in the journal Circulation, researchers uncovered the link between sugar and blood pressure when they analyzed 810 pre-hypertensive and hypertensive adults involved in the PREMIER study. The researchers measured blood pressure and dietary intake at baseline, then again at six and 18 months. Because this was a behavioral intervention study, the researchers were able to alter the participants’ diets in order to measure the effect of dietary change. After accounting for confounding factors like weight loss (which can have a positive effect on blood pressure), the researchers found that decreasing intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) by one 12-ounce serving a day significantly lowered blood pressure among the study subjects. (Note: Average SSB intake among the study participants was about one serving at baseline; however, many averaged three servings or more.)

WHAT IT MEANS: Though the average blood pressure reduction among study subjects seems slight—1.8 mm Hg for systolic pressure and 1.1 mm Hg for diastolic—it is significant in terms of possible health benefits, believe the researchers. For example, from other studies it has been estimated that just a 3 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure may reduce stroke mortality risk by 8 percent and heart disease mortality risk by 5 percent.

So why would sugary drinks raise blood pressure in the first place? The authors put forth two possible mechanisms for the sugar/blood pressure connection. “First, sugars may cause the blood vessels to constrict, which would raise blood pressure,” says study coauthor Lawrence Appel, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore. “And second, the increased sugar intake may lead to greater sodium retention, which, again, would tend to increase blood pressure.”


Published on: June 3, 2010

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