Men who drank a 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 20 percent higher risk of heart disease compared to men who didn't drink any sugar-sweetened drinks, according to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
The researchers say these findings add to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to heart health.
The researchers studied 42,883 healthy men for 22 years in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. They found that the increase in heart risk persisted even after accounting for other risk factors such as smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol use and family history of heart disease. Less frequent consumption of sugary drinks (twice weekly and twice monthly) didn't increase risk.
Researchers also measured different lipids (fats) and proteins in the blood, which are indicators for heart disease. These included the inflammation marker C-reactive protein (CRP), harmful blood fats called triglycerides and good cholesterol called high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Compared to non-drinkers, those who consumed sugary beverages daily had higher triglyceride and CRP and lower HDL levels.
Artificially sweetened beverages were not linked to increased risk or biomarkers for heart disease in this study.
Participants were primarily Caucasian men 40-75 years old. All were employed in a health-related profession.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than half of discretionary calories come from added sugars. For most men, that's no more than 150 calories per day and 100 for most women. Discretionary calories are those left in your "energy allowance" after consuming the recommended types and amounts of foods to meet all daily nutrient requirements.
Leslie's note: Sugary drinks don't just mean pop or soda. Included in the sugary "soft drinks" category are fruit punch, lemonade, iced tea, vitamin waters, sports drinks and energy drinks.
Source: Circulation, March 12 2012
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