U.K. researchers have reportedly linked sugar-sweetened beverages to a risk of high blood pressure, speculating that “one possible mechanism” for the association “is a resultant increase in the level of uric acid in the blood that may in turn lower the nitric oxide required to keep the blood vessels dilated.” Ian Brown, et al., “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage, Sugar Intake of Individuals, and Their Blood Pressure: International Study of Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure,” Hypertension, February 2011. Researchers apparently analyzed food survey, urine and blood pressure data from 2,696 participants enrolled in INTERMAP, or the International Study of Macronutrients, Micronutrients and Blood Pressure.

According to a February 28, 2011, Imperial College of London press release, the results purportedly showed that “for every extra can of sugary drink consumed per day, participants on average had a higher systolic blood pressure by 1.6 mmHg and a higher diastolic blood pressure by 0.8 mmHg.” The study did not report a similar effect for diet soda drinkers, but found the association most pronounced in regular soda drinkers who also consumed the most sodium. “This points to another possible intervention to lower blood pressure,” one author was quoted as saying. “These findings lend support for recommendations to reduce the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, as well as added sugars and sodium in an effort to reduce blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.” See Food-Navigator-USA.com, March 1, 2011.