In a new study, researchers found that drinking soda -- diet or sugar-sweetened -- can boost your risk of stroke, especially if you're a woman. Conversely, drinking either decaffeinated or regular coffee decreased stroke risk.
While numerous studies have linked soda consumption with weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, researchers from Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute and Harvard University in the US report that their study is the first to examine soda’s affect on stroke risk.
The study was published in the May issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
"Soda remains the largest source of added sugar in the diet," said study author Dr. Adam Bernstein. "What we're beginning to understand is that regular intake of these beverages sets off a chain reaction in the body that can potentially lead to many diseases -- including stroke."
The research analyzed soda consumption among 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. During that time, almost 3,000 strokes were reported in women while more than 1,400 strokes were reported in men.
In comparison, coffee contains chlorogenic acids, lignans and magnesium, all of which act as antioxidants and may reduce stroke risk, noted Science Daily on the new study. “When compared with one serving of sugar-sweetened soda, one serving of decaffeinated coffee was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of stroke.”
While the study controlled for other lifestyle factors on stroke risk, the research also found that men and women who regularly drank sugary sodas had higher rates of high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol and lower physical activity rates. Plus they were more likely to eat red meat and whole-fat dairy products.
"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."
Other healthy ways to reduce your stroke risk? Besides putting down the soda can, a recent study also found that women who regularly eat citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit reduced their risk of blood clot-related stroke.
"Studies have shown higher fruit, vegetable and specifically vitamin C intake is associated with reduced stroke risk," said Aedin Cassidy, lead author of the study in the Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
Men’s Health magazine also recommends reducing your salt intake to no more than 6g per day for adults. Also eat oily fish, such as mackerel, which is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of clogged arteries, strokes, and heart attacks. And don’t forget broccoli: it’s packed with folic acid, a B vitamin that is found to play a role in protecting your heart health.