New research suggests that it is the sugar in soft drinks and not the caffeine that may be responsible for increasing risk of higher blood pressure.
Supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Liwei Chen assistant professor of public health at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans studied the dietary intake and blood pressure of 810 adults over an 18 month period.
After known risk factors of high blood pressure were controlled for, Chen said that a reduction in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption of one serving per day was associated with a significant drop in blood pressure over 18 months. A significant result remained even after an additional adjustment for weigh change was made for the period.
Writing in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, Chen said: “Even among those whose weight was stable, we still found that people who drank fewer sugary sodas lowered their blood pressure.”
Sugar, not caffeine
The link between blood pressure and soft drinks only appeared in sugary drinks. Diet beverage and caffeine intake were not associated with higher blood pressure in the study results.
Chen said this suggests that: “Sugar may actually be the nutrient that is associated with blood pressure and not caffeine which many people would suspect.”
Elevated blood pressure is a common problem in developed nations and although it usually has few symptoms, it is an established risk factor for stroke, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and shortened life expectancy.
Regarding a possible link between sugary drinks and high blood pressure, Chen called for further research. The scientist said: “More research is needed to establish the causal relationship, but in the meantime, people can benefit right now by reducing their intake of sugary drinks by at least one serving per day.”
Source: Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association
Reducing Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Is Associated With Reduced Blood Pressure. A Prospective Study Among United States Adults
Authors: L. Chen, B. Caballero, D.C. Mitchell, C. Loria, P-H, Lin, C.M. Champagne, P.J. Elmer, J.D. Ard, B.C. Batch, C. A.M. Anderson, and L.J. Appel