Sugary drinks linked to high blood pressure

Washington: In one more reason why one should avoid or reduce taking sugary drinks, a new study has claimed that soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages such as fruit drinks may lead to increased blood pressure levels in adults.

The international research, published in the journal Hypertension, found that every extra sugary beverages per day increases higher systolic blood pressure by 1.6 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 0.8 mmHg (millimetres of mercury).

The researchers, who looked at 2,696 participants in the US and Britain for their study, found higher blood pressure levels in individuals who consumed more glucose and fructose, the most common sugar sweetener used by the beverage industry.

Higher blood pressure was also found more pronounced in people who consumed high levels of both sugar and sodium.

Study author Paul Elliott of the Imperial College London said: "These findings lend support for recommendations to reduce the intake of sugar sweetened beverages, as well as added sugars and sodium in an effort to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.

"This points to another possible intervention to lower blood pressure," he suggested.

For the study, the researchers analysed consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, sugars and diet beverages of the participants, aged between 40 and 59 years, in eight areas of the US and two areas in the UK.

Participants reported what they ate and drank for four days via in depth interviews by trained observers. They also underwent two 24-hour urine collections, eight blood pressure readings and responded a detailed questionnaire on lifestyle, medical and social factors.

The researchers found that sugar intake in the form of glucose, fructose and sucrose was highest in those consuming more than one sugar-sweetened beverage daily.

They also found that individuals consuming more than one serving per day of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed more calories than those who didn`t, with average energy intake of more than 397 calories per day.

Those who did not consume sugar-sweetened beverages had lower average body mass index (BMI) than those who consumed more than one of these drinks daily.

"People who drink a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages appear to have less healthy diets," said Ian Brown, research associate at Imperial College London.

"They are consuming empty calories without the nutritional benefits of real food. They consume less potassium, magnesium and calcium.

"One possible mechanism for sugar-sweetened beverages and fructose increasing blood pressure levels is a resultant increase in the level of uric acid in the blood that may in turn lower the nitric oxide required to keep the blood vessels dilated.

"Sugar consumption also has been linked to enhanced sympathetic nervous system activity and sodium retention."

However, the researchers said more research is needed as their study was cross-sectional and diet was self-reported.