And as for blood pressure, for every serving (355-milliliters) of sugar-sweetened beverage consumed per day, there was a significant bump in both systolic and diastolic readings (+1.6 and +0.8, respectively), even after adjusting for BMI.
What's more, the association between drinking a sugar-sweetened drink and having higher blood pressure appeared to be even stronger among those who also had higher dietary sodium intake.
Drinking a diet beverage, however, was actually linked to a slight drop in blood pressure (although this finding did not meet "statistical significance"), while caffeine consumption appeared to have no impact on blood pressure.
"Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has been linked to high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk," said Brown. "So we suggest that if individuals want to drink these beverages, they do so only in moderation."
For those who wish to follow American Heart Association guidelines, Brown noted that a moderate amount would translate to roughly three 12-ounce cans per week for individuals who routinely consume about 2,000 calories a day.
"Better still," he advised, "choose heart-healthy alternatives such as water or unsweetened teas."
Dr. Sahil Parikh, a cardiologist at the Harrington-McLaughlin Heart and Vascular Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said the findings "fall along the lines of the kind of common sense your mother would offer."
"We have long known that sugary drinks are bad for you, because they are a lot of empty calories," he said. "But what makes this study important is that it suggests that beyond just making you fatter these drinks also prompt hypertension, which can increase the incidence of heart attack and strok
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