An analysis of 36 previous studies of the relationship between sugar sweetened beverage consumption and risk factors for heart disease – diabetes and high blood pressure -  published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society this week, revealed that one sugary beverage a day increases the risk of high blood pressure, and as few as two a week increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.                                    

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Sugary drinks in the study above included any beverage that contained sucrose, glucose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. They are just bad for our health, no matter how much or little of the stuff we drink.

In addition, many if not most, are calorically dense and nutrient void. For example, a 12 oz can of soda on average, has about 9.5 teaspoons of sugar (about 150 calories) - cola has 10.5 teaspoons of sugar, ginger ale has 8.5 teaspoons. Think about that for a moment. Would you put that much sugar in a glass of water and drink it? Would you do this two or three times a day? To put this in perspective, there are 12 teaspoons is a ¼ cup. Drinking three cans of soda a day is the same as eating more than a ½ cup of sugar.

So, what can you do instead?

The healthiest alternative is water – plain old water. If you want the fizz, try sparkling water or seltzer. Want something with fizz and flavor? Try flavored seltzer or put a little fruit juice in plain seltzer.

Unsweetened ice tea is another good choice. Make it from herbal teas for some zing.

Here’s how to make homebrewed ice tea from the Foodnetwork:


Bring 8 cups water to a simmer; remove from the heat and add 6 tea bags.
Let steep about 4 minutes, until it's the strength you like.
Remove the tea bags.
 Let cool, then transfer to a pitcher, cover and refrigerate.


Combine 8 cups cold water and 10 tea bags in a pitcher.
Cover and refrigerate 15 to 36 hours (overnight works well) until it's the strength you like.
Remove the tea bags.

For flavor – add:

  • Orange strips zest
  • Sliced orange
  • Blackberries  - 1 cup
  • Cinnamon 2 sticks
  • Lavender - 3 tablespoons dried
  • Vanilla - 1 halved bean
  • Mint - 3 sprigs
  • Ginger - 1 cup sliced
  • Lemon strips zest
  • Sliced lemon
  • Nectarine - 1 cup chopped

For more information
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Sugar sweetened beverage consumption

Rethink your drink

Harvard School of Public Health

Sugary Dinks and Obesity Fact Sheet


©2017 Associates for Health Education and Behavior, LLC