Recently, a study was performed at the School of Public Health at Imperial College London researching the correlation between sugary substances and high blood pressure.
The study was conducted on 2,696 Americans and Britons, ages 40 to 59, who all answered a survey concerning their lifestyles. They were also interviewed by researchers concerning their diets. Lastly, urine samples were collected and tested, and the blood pressure of the participants was measured on four separate occasions.
The results, while not terribly surprising, are significant; soda and other sugary soft drinks possess the ability increase blood pressure considerably.
Researchers determined that systolic blood pressure was increased by 1.6 millimeters of mercury and diastolic pressure rose by 0.6 mm Hg for each sugary beverage consumed on a given day.
According to the study, the participants with the more elevated blood pressure measurements consumed greater amounts of glucose and fructose; both are components in high-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient used commonly in sugary soft drinks.
The most significant increase in blood pressure levels were observed in participants who not only drank the most sugary beverages, but also who had the highest level of salt intake. Study co-author, Ian J. Brown, Ph D., noted that while it has been common knowledge for some time that salt has a detrimental affect on blood pressure, the study findings suggest that “sugar and salt together may be worse than salt alone.”
Brown stated that study participants who consumed multiple sugary drinks a day were adding an extra 400 empty calories to their diets, which have no nutritional value and can lead to excess weight and complications.
According to the American Heart Association, less than half of the daily discretionary calorie allowance should stem from added sugars, as high blood pressure increases the chances of stroke and heart disease in individuals. “Heart healthy alternatives including water and unsweetened teas,” he said, would help them not only improve their blood pressure, but also “may have other benefits for their heart health, including improvements in weight and reduced risk of diabetes.”
In the diet of Americans, it was discovered that these sugary beverages are the primary source of added sugars.
The study was reported in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.