Consuming sugar-filled drinks increases risk of cardiovascular disease

Each year 17.9 million people die of cardiovascular disease; which are conditions affecting the heart and vascular system. Contributing factors are diet, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and cholesterol.

To combat cardiovascular disease, doctors try to help at risk patients avoid a metabolic disorder called dyslipidemia, which is an abnormal level of lipids in the blood. To assist them doctors needed more information to better understand the factors that contribute to dyslipidemia.

A study completed by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, MA concluded daily consumption of sugary drinks may increase the risk of dyslipidemia which leads to elevated levels of triglycerides and lowered levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (HDL the “good” cholesterol).


“Our findings show that what we put in our glass may contribute to greater risk of cardiovascular disease via worsening of lipid levels.”

Nicola McKeown, Ph.D., nutritional epidemiologist

Researchers analyzed data from more than 6,000 participants, tracking their HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels over 23 years and found that those who drank just one sweetened drink per day (12 ounces) had a 98% higher incidence of low HDL cholesterol. They also had 53% higher incidence of high triglycerides.

The research team explained that the findings are bad. HDL is the “good” cholesterol because it’s main function is to remove Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol from the bloodstream before it can begin clogging arteries. Combining the reduction of HDL cholesterol with an increase in triglyceride levels significantly raises the risk of developing dyslipidemia, which over time, can cause damage to the heart and vascular system.

The list of beverages in the study included; sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, pre-sweetened coffee and tea, naturally and artificially sweetened “diet” sodas, and 100% fruit juices (orange, apple, and grapefruit – even with no added sugars).

How much sugar are in those drinks?

The amount of sugar in these drinks

“While our study didn’t find negative consequences on blood lipids from drinking low-calorie sweetened drinks, there may be health consequences of consuming these beverages on other risk factors. Water remains the preferred and healthiest beverage.”

Nicola McKeown, Ph.D., nutritional epidemiologist

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