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Sugar Sweetened Beverages Raise Women’s Risk of Heart Disease

Posted Apr 01 2009 1:28pm
Drinking two or more glasses of sugar sweetened beverages daily can raise a woman’s heart disease risk as much as 35%, according to new research.

Sugar sweetened beverages, such as colas (with and without caffeine), other carbonated sodas and non-carbonated presweetened drinks appear to increase the risk of heart disease by 35% in women, according to new findings from the Nurse’s Health Study.

You Can Drink Those Calories, or Make Healthier Beverages Choices

You Can Drink Those Calories, or Make Healthier Beverages Choices

All the fuss about high fructose corn syrup has now been bumped up a notch. Yet, this data is much more clear. Excess sugar, especially when it is found in processed foods that are also high in fat, pose a threat to good health.  We shouldn’t  need another reason to consider drinking highly caloric beverages. After all, there is already enough data linking a highly processed, sugar laden diet to chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and dental cavities.

The new concerns linking high intakes of sugar to heart disease in women simply points to the need for everyone to become  more selective in your food choices. If you knew that a 12-ounce can of soda contains 7-10 teaspoons of  sugar and 150 calories, would you think twice before drinking it?   

Sugar offers no nutritional value other than to contribute empty calories.  Choosing sugar containing foods instead of whole foods, or in this case beverages, means that you are missing out on essential nutrients and fiber  that must be consumed to achieve overall health and assure a healthy body weight. Might you reconsider and save the empty calories for something more tasty to eat,  or banked toward controlling your weight?  Before reaching for a can of soda or a sweetened iced tea, remember the consequences. By skipping 23 sweet drinks, you’ll be spared adding on a full pound of body fat. Hopefully the appeal to quench your thirst can just as easily be achieved with water, milk or a glass of 100% fruit juice.

To improve the overall nutrient density of your diet and to help reduce your intake of excess and empty calories, women should aim for foods and beverages that undergo minimal or no processing so that their essential nutrients remain intact and provide nutrient dense calories, or calories with the maximum nutritional benefit. It’s simply good practice to eat your calories rather than gulping them down. Besides, chewing is a more satisfying may to enjoy foods, reserving the drink to wash down the meal. Your focus should be on boosting your calories from fruits, vegetables and whole grains, all of which will reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and most importantly, promote a healthy weight.

Fortunately, artificially sweetened beverages do not have the same effect on the heart, according Teresa Fung, ScD, RD, one of the study co-authors and an adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Harvard University School of Public Health. However, getting enough milk (or calcium containing foods) to give you a bone-building boost, and drinking water to stay hydrated should remain top choices when making drink selections.

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