Death in a Can

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Energy Drinks and Soda Bad For HealthSoft drinks and other sweetened beverages seriously damage the heart, increasing the risk for heart attack or fatal heart disease by at least 35% and diabetes by at least 26%, according to a review of studies from researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked with increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Both glucose and fructose appear to be major players in this damage, with putative underlying mechanisms including increased calorie consumption, adverse glycemic effects, increased liver metabolism of fructose leading to fat genesis, production of uric acid, and accumulation of belly, i.e., visceral, fat. Sugar-sweetened beverages account for one half of added sugars in the American diet. One can of regular soda contains about 35 grams, or nine teaspoons, of sugar. Being in liquid form means that sugar rapidly enters the bloodstream, warn the researchers.

Men who drink two or more servings of sweetened beverages a day have a 23% higher risk of suffering heart failure compared to men who avoid this junk juice, according to a study from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

After drinking a 16-ounce can of “Rockstar Punched” – a commercial energy drink containing caffeine, taurine, milk thistle extract, and other stimulants – healthy young adults had a 74% increase in blood levels of the “fight or flight” hormone, norepinephrine, and a rise in blood pressure, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic.

In Perspective: Limit or avoid altogether all sweetened beverages (can, bottle, bag, or carton). Currently, food labels do not separate natural from added sugars, so you must read the ingredient list and the nutritional panel. Keep in mind that four grams is equivalent to one teaspoon. Also, avoid any food or beverage that contains any form of sugar in the first three ingredients or that lists multiple sugars throughout the ingredient list.

Malik V, Hu F: Fructose and cardiometabolic health. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2015;66:1615-1624.

Rahman I, Wolk A, Larsson S: The relationship between sweetened beverage consumption and risk of heart failure in men. Heart 2015; November 2nd.

Svatikova A, Covassin M, Somers K, et al: A randomized trial of cardiovascular responses to energy drink consumption in healthy adults.  Journal of the American Medical Association 2015; November 8th.

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