(CBS News) – Another reason to cut sugary drinks from your diet. New research shows the drinks can cause a lot more damage than just weight gain.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are filled with calories and lack nutrients, yet sodas, sports drinks, and fruit-flavored drinks are the largest source of added sugars in the American diet. New research in the journal of the American Heart Association finds drinking more than 12 ounces of sugary drinks a day is linked to lower levels of so-called good cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol, and higher levels of triglycerides in middle-aged and older adults. Dr. Luke Laffin, a preventive cardiologist with the Cleveland Clinic says, “This is important because both of those findings have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Previous studies have shown the negative health effects of added sugars. Dr. Laffin says most of that data was related to weight gain. “This study shows that there is a more clear link, or association, between changes in cholesterol patterns,” he says. “So lends to the theory that it’s not just the weight gain that contributes. It actually changes physiology with respect to blood cholesterol.”
The American Heart Association recommends eliminating sugary drinks for better heart health and lower risk of heart attacks and stroke. Water is the preferred and healthiest drink. According to Dr. Laffin, “Really getting rid of those sugary drinks at all, starting with our kids, it’s going to be helpful setting those examples because the effect can be cumulative over one’s life time as well.”
Low-calorie sweetened drinks did not negatively impact blood lipids in the study, but researchers say that doesn’t mean those drinks don’t have other health consequences.