People who drink sugar-sweetened beverages have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and some cancers, study says.
“No matter what drink you take, excessive consumption [of sugar] is a problem. High overall sugar intake from any drink like coffee with sugar or juices can lead to problems,” Dr. Sanjiv Patel, a cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in California, has said.
He said higher consumption of sugar leads to increased incidence of weight gain and diabetes, which in turn leads to increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.
This study joins previous research that points to the relationship between a high-sugar diet and negative heart health outcomes.
However, in this one, the authors controlled for other dietary factors, physical activity, and body mass index, items that could be independently linked with sugar-sweetened beverages.
The results still pointed to the damaging effects sugary beverages may have, regardless of other possible cardiovascular risk factors.
Sugar replacements are risky, too
A secondary finding of the Circulation study suggests people who replace one sugary drink per day with an artificially-sweetened drink (such as a diet soda) have a slightly lower risk of death.
However, if a woman drinks four or more artificially-sweetened drinks per day, she has a higher risk of death.
“Low-calorie drinks, while containing less sugar, also carry an increased risk,” Dr. Anton Bilchik, professor of surgery at John Wayne Cancer Institute and chief of general surgery at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California, has said.
What beverages are not OK?
Soda is the poster star of sugar problems, but Americans are actually drinking fewer sugary drinks like soda today than any time in the past decade.
Yet, 1 in 10 people still get more than a quarter of their daily calories from sugar.
That’s not all coming from soda.
A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola Classic has 39 grams of sugar. You may be unlikely to reach for the syrupy soda after a workout, but the Gatorade you down on your way out the door has 34 grams.
Feeling a little sluggish in the afternoon? Instead of a 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi (69 grams), you may take a quick jaunt down to Starbucks for a Grande Mocha Frappuccino (skim milk and no whip, please), which has —are you ready? —59 grams of sugar. Even the extra 500 steps won’t burn off that sugar crush.
Are you stocking sugary “smoothies” in your fridge, sipping them on your commute to the office, as a way to get more fruit into your diet? A 15.2-ounce bottle promises apples, bananas, blueberries, and blackberries — all while delivering 55 grams of sugar.
Does fruit provide a bit of a health halo for that much sugar? No, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, a licensed, registered dietitian who is manager of wellness nutrition at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
“Any liquid source of sugar, even if it is a naturally occurring form that is in a concentrate, will have the same impact,” she said.
She added that blood sugar and insulin levels still spike and fall with all of these options. You can dress up a drink with over 10 grams of sugar any way you like, but in the end, it’s still just sugar.
More than 60 different names for sugar could be listed on an ingredient label.
Fruit juice concentrate seems natural, but it’s a form of sugar. Brown rice syrup? That’s sugar. Beets are healthy, so what about beet sugar? Still sugar.
If, however, you’re not keen to memorize five dozen random words, keep this rule in mind: water is best.