Study leader Dr. Liwei Chen says the link between less consumption of surgery drinks and lowered blood pressure remained even after known high-blood-pressure risk factors were controlled for and an added adjustment was made for possible weight loss due to consuming less calories.
"We found no association for diet beverage consumption or caffeine intake and blood pressure, suggesting that sugar may actually be the nutrient that is associated with blood pressure and not caffeine which many people would suspect," Chen says in a statement.
The study, involving 810 adults, published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, finds one serving reduction in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption per day associated with a drop of 1.8 millimeters of mercury in systolic pressure and 1.1 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure over 18 months.
Normal blood pressure is usually defined as systolic or top number less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic or bottom number less than 80 mm Hg, Chen says.
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