Sweetened fizzy drinks have been directly linked to high blood pressure in new research. A study of more than 2,500 people in the United States and UK showed drinking sugary drinks was linked to higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
The link between sweetened drinks and higher blood pressure was especially strong in people who also consumed a lot of salt.
"Individuals who drink a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages appear to have less healthy diets," said Dr Ian Brown, the study's first author, from Imperial College London. "They are consuming empty calories without the nutritional benefits of real food. They consume less potassium, magnesium and calcium."
Someone with a blood pressure level in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) of 135 over 85 is twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke as someone with a reading of 115 over 75. Heart disease remains the largest cause of death in the UK.
“This research doesn’t show us why there might be a link between sugary drinks and high blood pressure so there needs to be some more time spent answering that question," said Victoria Taylor, Senior Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation.
"We may know then how much is too much when it comes to these types of drinks."