New study reveals the drink that is even worse for you than soda

Now more than ever, Americans are taking a closer look at the dietary habits that contribute to chronic illness. 

Pandemic aside, heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the US; with a person dying from cardiovascular incidents every 37 seconds and roughly 647,000 dying every year from the very same. What exactly makes Americans so susceptible to the illness?

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association elects soda as a compelling candidate. According to the data, just one daily serving of a sugary soft drink significantly increases one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. 

“Sugar‐sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption has been associated with cardiometabolic risk. However, the association between total and type of SSB intake and incident cardiovascular diseases (CVD) endpoints such as myocardial infarction, stroke, and revascularization is limited,” the researchers wrote in the pioneering report.” Consuming ≥1 serving per day of SSB was associated with CVD, revascularization, and stroke. SSB intake might be a modifiable dietary target to reduce the risk of CVD among women.”

Sugar‐Sweetened Beverage Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Risk 

To test their hypothesis, the researchers reviewed responses from the 106,178 participants involved in a cohort study of female teachers and administrators that began all the way back in 1995. Initially, the objective was to establish a list of correlates that resulted in various forms of cancer, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular illness.  

The average age of the study pool was 52 and none had been previously diagnosed with heart disease, stroke, or diabetes when they entered the study.

Cardiovascular disease denoted heart attacks, revascularization procedures, and both fatal and nonfatal strokes in the context of this new report.

Each participant was asked to complete a food questionnaire to gauge their dietary habits. More specifically, the questionnaire included questions about how often they drank sweetened beverages, including sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened bottled waters.

The study defined “fruit drinks” as flavored fruity drinks in which sugar was added as opposed to processed commercial fruit juices. 

A follow-up conducted more than 20 years later concluded that drinking one or more sugary beverages per day was associated with a 20% increase in developing cardiovascular disease, compared to the women who either didn’t drink or rarely drank sugary beverages. 

It should be noted that not all beverages were equal in this respect. 

Participants who habitually consumed fruit drinks evidenced a 42% greater likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those who didn’t drink sugary beverages at all. On balance, those who consumed soda on a daily basis exhibited less risk for adverse outcomes, with a 23% greater likelihood of cardiovascular disease compared to the control.

“We hypothesize that sugar may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in several ways,” explained lead author Cheryl Anderson, a professor of family and public health at the University of California San Diego.

“It raises glucose levels and insulin concentrations in the blood, which may increase appetite and lead to obesity, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

According to The American Heart Association recommends, women should limit their added sugar intake to no more than 100 calories per day, which is equivalent to  25 grams, while men should consume no more than 150 calories or 38 grams.

More research needs to be done to apply sugary beverage consumption risks to other demographics and communities. 

CW Headley is a reporter for the Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com