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Drinking fewer sugary beverages could be linked to lower blood pressure

May 24, 2010 |  1:44 pm

Sugar-sweetened beverages get blamed for various health woes, obesity being one. But a new study finds there may be a link between drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and lowering blood pressure.

L2u416ncThe study included 810 men and women age 25 to 70 who were part of a lifestyle intervention study and had prehypertension or stage I hypertension. At the beginning of the study, participants drank an average of 10.5 ounces a day of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Overall, drinking one less serving, or 12 ounces, of sugar-sweetened beverages per day was associated with 1.8 drop in systolic blood pressure, and a 1.1 drop in diastolic blood pressure over 18 months. After the researchers adjusted for the weight loss the study participants experienced, there was still a significant difference seen in lowered blood pressure -- 0.7 for systolic, and 0.4 for diastolic. There was no relationship seen between a change in drinking diet beverages and differences in blood pressure.

Researchers tried to determine if the culprit in the sugar-sweetened beverages was the sugar, or the caffeine. A link was seen between lower blood pressure and consuming less sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose, and combined forms of sugar), but not between caffeine consumption and a change in blood pressure.

Those who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages also tended to eat more calories, but less protein, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and dietary fiber.

"Our findings suggest that reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and sugar consumption may be an important dietary strategy to lower blood pressure and further reduce other blood pressure-related diseases," said Dr. Liwei Chen, lead author of the study, in a news release. Chen is an assistant professor at Louisiana State University Health Science Center-School of Public Health in New Orleans.

The study was released today in the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Assn.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press