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March 14, 2012 | 2 minute read

Don't ♥ Sugary Beverages

With all the attention on red meat and mortality, you may have missed the research showing that men who drank just one 12-once sugar-sweetened beverage a day had higher risk of heart disease than those who didn’t drink any.

Sugary beverages are already associated with type 2 diabetes and weight gain (the AICR expert report and its updates link sugary drinks to weight gain, overweight and obesity). There’s less evidence on cardiovascular disease.

In this study of over 42,000 men, researchers looked at whether sugary beverages link to coronary heart disease (CHD). The men were followed for 22 years and they completed a food frequency questionnaire every four years.

The study authors found that for one serving per day increase in sugar-sweetened beverage intake, the men’s risk of CHD increased by 19% even when adjusting for a number of lifestyle-related factors including body mass index (BMI), smoking, physical activity, overall diet quality, weight change and dieting.

In 2009, results from the Nurses’ Health study linked a one serving per day increase in sugar sweetened beverages to a 15% increase in CHD risk.

The researchers in the men’s study did not find evidence that artificially sweetened beverages had an effect on CHD risk.

Sugar sweetened drinks also increased levels of triglycerides and inflammation markers. These inflammatory markers (CRP, IL-6) are also linked to higher cancer risk.

AICR recommends avoiding sugary drinks because overweight and obesity are a cause of over 100,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. every year. This study provides even more reason to pass up the sugary soda, lemonade and sweet tea and opt for non-sugary choices. Unsweetened black, green and herbal teas, sparkling or plain water with lime or try an iced skim milk latté.

For more great healthy beverage choices check out our New American Plate Challenge #6: Bye Soda, Hi Tea.


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