Cutting down on sugary drinks helps ease BP (Lead)

May 25th, 2010 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

London, May 25 (IANS) You can lower blood pressure levels by simply cutting down on your daily intake of sugary drinks, according to a new research.
Research led by Liwei Chen, assistant professor of public health at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Centre (LSUHSC), has found that sugary drinks and blood pressure (BP) levels are linked.

“We found no association for diet beverage consumption or caffeine intake and blood pressure,” notes Chen, “suggesting that sugar may actually be the nutrient that is associated with blood pressure and not caffeine which many people would suspect”.

High BP is an established risk factor for stroke, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and shortened life expectancy.

The research, analysed dietary intake and BP of 810 adults measured at baseline, six and 18 months.

After known risk factors of high BP were controlled for, a reduction in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption of one serving per day was associated with a drop in BP levels over 18 months.

After additional adjustment for weight change over the same period, a reduction in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was still significantly associated with BP reduction.

“By reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, you are also reducing the number of calories you consume and may lose weight,” adds Chen.

“But even among those whose weight was stable, we still found that people who drank fewer sugary sodas lowered their blood pressure.”

Elevated BP continues to be one of the most common and important health problems in the US. About 74.5 million people in the US, or one in three people, age 20 and older have high blood pressure, says American Heart Association.

High BP is estimated to have killed 56,561 Americans in 2006. From 1996 to 2006, the death rate from high blood pressure increased 19.5 percent, and the actual number of deaths rose 48.1 percent.

Normal BP, measured in millimeters of mercury, is defined as systolic (top number) less than 120 and diastolic (bottom number) less than 80, said a LSUHSC release.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a systolic pressure of 140 or higher and a diastolic pressure of 90 or higher. Pressures falling in the range between are considered to be prehypertension.

The research was published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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