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Fewer Sugary Drinks, Less High Blood Pressure
Date:5/24/2010

Cutting out a can per day brought measurable benefits, study found

MONDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) - Even a small reduction per day in sweetened soft drink intake could improve your blood pressure, researchers report.

In an 18-month study, researchers found a measurable reduction in blood pressure -- 1.8 points in systolic pressure, the higher of the desired 120/80 desired reading, and 1.1 points in diastolic pressure -- when intake was reduced by about a can of sweetened beverage a day, said the report published May 24 in Circulation.

"We found a direct dose-response relationship," said study leader Dr. Liwei Chen, assistant professor of epidemiology at Louisiana State University Health Science Center School of Public Health. "Individually, it was not a big reduction. But population-wise, reducing total consumption could have a huge impact."

The improvement was recorded in a group of older people whose starting consumption was already well below the American average intake of 2.3 servings of sweetened beverages per day, Chen noted.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. The American Heart Association has long warned about the possible health dangers of added sugars in products such as soft drinks, most notably in a report issued last year.

"What this new paper does is add strength to an emerging body of evidence linking added sugar, in this case in beverages, and increased blood pressure," said Rachel K. Johnson, the lead author of the heart association report and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.

The AHA report focused on sugars added to processed foods, not on sugars found in natural foods, such as fruit. It recommended that men limit their intake of added sugars to 150 calories a day, about nine teaspoonfuls, and women to 100 calories, or six teaspoonfuls.

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