Decaf Coffee is Better than Soda

Soda consumption tied to stroke risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Drinking too much sugar-sweetened soda may increase your risk of having a stroke -- even if it's a diet soft drink. Coffee, on the other hand, was associated with a lower risk of stroke.

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks and beverages have previously been tied to diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, high cholesterol, gout and coronary artery disease.

Women appeared to be at a higher stroke risk as compared to men.

"Consume more fruits and vegetables to lower stroke risk."

Adam Bernstein, MD, ScD, study author and research director at Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute, said that soda is the largest source of added sugar in diets. He said that researchers have begun to understand that regularly drinking sodas can set off a chain reaction within the body that can lead to many diseases, including stroke.

During the study investigators reviewed the soda consumption of 43,371 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study between 1986 and 2008, and 84,085 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study between 1980 and 2008. Participants filled out questionnaires that documented daily beverage consumption. They documented, 2,938 strokes in women and 1,416 strokes in men during that period.

In comparison to a person's average stroke risk, consuming one regular or diet soda daily was associated with a 16 percent increased risk of stroke. They found that those who consumed higher amounts of regular or diet soda were at an increased risk. 

Researchers discovered that individuals who consumed more sugar-sweetened soda had higher rates of hypertension and high cholesterol, and were less likely to exercise regularly. They also were more likely to eat red meat and whole-fat dairy products. Those who drank low-calorie soda were more likely to have a higher body mass index or suffer from a chronic disease.

Interestingly, researchers found that substituting a cup of decaf coffee for a sugar-sweetened soda each day lowered stroke risk by 10 percent. Those who instead opted for regular coffee saw a 9 percent decrease in stroke risk. The decrease was tied to magnesium, lignans and chlorogenic acid, which act as antioxidants.

Investigators suggest that the increased stroke risk in sugar-sweetened soda may stem from rapid increases in blood glucose and insulin, which over time may lead to glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and inflammation. These changes may influence the build up of plaque in arteries or blood clots, which are risk factors for ischemic stroke.

"According to research from the USDA, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption has increased dramatically in the United States over the past three decades, and it's affecting our health," said Dr. Bernstein.

"These findings reiterate the importance of encouraging individuals to substitute alternate beverages for soda."

The study was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 25, 2012
Last Updated:
May 7, 2012