Sweetened drinks may damage heart, review finds

Sweetened drinks may damage heart, review findsThe added sugar in sodas, fruit drinks, sweet teas and energy drinks affects the body in ways that increase risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke, said Vasanti Malik, a nutrition research scientist at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, author of the report, published Sept. 28 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Consuming one or two servings a day of sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to a 35 percent greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, a 16 percent increased risk of stroke and as much as a 26 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the report concluded.

One can of regular soda contains about 35 grams of sugar, which is equal to nearly nine teaspoons.

Manufacturers most often use either table sugar or high-fructose corn syrup to sweeten beverages, researchers said. Both sugar sources contain roughly equal parts of two simple sugars, fructose and glucose.

Researchers believe both fructose and glucose damage the heart. Glucose spikes blood glucose and causes insulin levels to rise, which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, Malik said. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease.

Fructose also causes heart health issues, but in more insidious ways. Its presence can prompt the liver to release triglycerides and "bad" LDL cholesterol into the bloodstream, Malik said. Too much fructose can lead to fatty liver disease.

Overconsumption of fructose can also lead to too much uric acid in the blood, which is associated with a greater risk of gout, a painful inflammatory arthritis. Inflammation also has been linked to heart disease.

Finally, fructose has been shown to promote the accumulation of belly fat, another risk factor for heart disease, she said.

Researchers are also concerned that the liquid sugars in sweetened beverages might have a stronger impact on the body, Malik said.

"The fact it's in liquid form is something that's really of concern, because the sugars are absorbed really rapidly," she said. "They enter the bloodstream very quickly."

For now, the researchers urge consumers to reduce the amount of added sugar in their diet.

Limiting or eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages is a solid first step, Malik said, noting many foods also contain added sugar.

Via: Web MD
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