The Link Between Soft Drinks and Heart Disease
For some time now, doctors have warned the public about the health consequences of drinking sugary sodas. While diabetes might be in the forefront of the soda conversation, cardiovascular health is actually directly related as well. Many people looking to shed some weight or lower their blood pressure focus on the sugar found in their solid diet. It’s usually easy to identify where you’re going wrong: candy, sweet snacks and desserts are straightforward. But to so many people, drinking just a single coke with lunch doesn’t feel like such a splurge.
Sugary sodas sometimes hide behind flavors that might seem “lighter,” like lemon or lime. For example, one twelve ounce can of Sierra Mist includes 24 grams of sugar, which by some health standards is your entire daily recommended dose of sugar. For comparison, a 12 ounce coke has 39 grams of sugar. Even worse, fruit drinks and juices market their products as “healthy” but still contain enormous amounts of sugar. Considering that most people consume larger servings of soda than 12 ounces per sitting, it’s easy to see how so many people consume much more sugar daily than they need. When you compound the sugar content in sodas with the sugar already in the food we eat, the high rate of diabetes in the United States seems inevitable.
So how do sodas affect your heart health? Many studies have been performed examining not just the effect of sugar on heart disease, but the effect of soft drinks themselves on the body. The studies are largely conclusive. People who consumed soda on a daily basis (one or two 12 ounce cans a day) were 20 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or heart attack fatality. This study included 40,000 men only, but a similar study specific to women indicated very similar results. Soda consumption also puts you at a significantly higher risk of gout and diabetes, as well.
The Nurses’ Health Study performed over 20 years (between 1980 and 2004) on 90,000 women correlated a 40 percent increased risk of heart attack with soda consumption above two sugary sodas per day. However, the study addresses that people who consume soda regularly are also more likely to make other lifestyle and diet choices that could adversely affect their cardiovascular health. Researchers took this information into account and found that those who consumed soda daily but maintained an otherwise healthy diet were still at a significant cardiac risk down the line.
So, what about diet soda? If the problem with soft drinks is their sugar content, shouldn’t diet soda be a safe alternative? The jury is still out, but some studies indicate that diet soft drinks are still a cardiovascular threat. Even when the researchers accounted for diet, smoking, high cholesterol and other factors, the diet soda drinkers were still more likely to suffer a stroke. While the study suggested that diet soda drinkers were at risk, researchers were unable to determine the cause and effect. Overall, scientists suggest that there is no benefit to drinking diet soda and it could even be bad for you—so why take the risk?
Cutting soft drinks out of your diet is one of the best ways to immediately eliminate excess sugar from your routine. If you have questions about your cardiovascular risk and the steps you can take to boost heart health, visit www.cvgcares.com to schedule an appointment.