While we all know how toxic sugary drinks are, we nonetheless grab a cola every now and then. Well, other than a multiple other reasons why that cola is bad for you, sugary drinks increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide and their incidence is increasing especially in young adults owing to poor dietary habits and lack of physical exercise.
Here’s how colas and other sugar drinks impact your heart health
Among the main risk factors for cardiovascular disease are diet, high blood pressure, as well as elevated levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, notes Dr Udgeath Dhir, director & head, CTVS, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
High sugar beverages such as sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks are by far the biggest sources of added sugar. Other important sources include cookies, cakes, pastries, fruit drinks, ice cream, and ready-to-eat cereals.
It has been found that adults who drink at least one sugary beverage when compared with those who don’t, have a greater risk for developing dyslipidemia which can increase the risk of heart disease, Dr Dhir says. “According to a major study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a sugar-laden diet may raise the risk of dying of heart disease even if one isn’t overweight,” he adds
There are other ill effects of sugary beverages too
“Consumption of sugar in excess amount leads to an increase in weight gain by tricking the body into turning off its appetite-control system because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods,” says Dr Dhir.
One of the most important disadvantages of taking a high sugar diet is that sugar delivers “empty calories” (i.e. calories don’t have nutritonal value). Not to mention, a diet high in sugar content may also stimulate the liver to push more harmful fats into the bloodstream.
“It has been known since long that people who consume high sugar diets have abnormal blood sugar levels and have abnormal carbohydrate metabolism, with an elevated insulin level,” he states.
How do elevated insulin levels due to sugary drinks impact heart health?
Increased levels of insulin and insulin resistance are associated with multiple diseases including hypertension, coronary artery disease, obesity, peripheral vascular disease and those with hypertriglyceridemia.
“Insulin resistance can create an imbalance in the metabolism of glucose which produces chronic hyperglycemia, and in turn, triggers oxidative stress and causes an inflammatory response that leads to cell damage,” explains Dr Dhir.
Therefore, dietary factors that worsen glucose tolerance or promotes insulin resistance will also likely increase the risk of acute cardiovascular disease-related mortality, says the doctor.
Studies have shown that, compared with a diet that contains less than 10% of calories from added sugars, a diet containing 25% or more calories from added sugars nearly triples the risk for cardiovascular mortality.
New research finds that sugary drinks can not only increase cholesterol levels but also reduce the amount of HDL (good) cholesterol in our bodies.
It is obvious from the above discussion that sugary drinks at best should be avoided. So, it’s time to consciously exclude sugary drinks from our diet since they bring us nothing more than temporary pleasure of taste.
You can slowly switch to healthier alternatives such as flavoured water or sugarcane juice to curb your cravings while preserving your health.