People are drinking more sugar-sweetened beverages than ever before—and it’s slowly killing us. After analyzing three decades of dietary information for more than 600,000 adults in 51 countries worldwide, researchers at Tufts University in Boston believe all those sodas, energy drinks, fruit drinks, and teas add up to about 184,000 deaths every year.
Sugary drinks are among the biggest offenders in a high-sugar diet. A single can of soda may contain up to ten teaspoons of sugar, which is nearly twice the amount recommended by the World Health Organization for an entire day. And the more sugar we eat, the higher our risk of obesity and obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and even premature death—which is exactly what this new data confirms.
Among the 20 most heavily populated countries, the United States ranked second only to Mexico in the number of annual deaths attributable to high-sugar beverages (125 per 1 million adults). In addition, researchers determined that younger adults were at a greater risk than their older counterparts, possibly due to more exposure to sugary drinks as children.
“This is not complicated,” said senior author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian in a university press release. “There are no health benefits from sugar-sweetened beverages, and the potential impact of reducing consumption is saving tens of thousands of deaths each year.”
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States, accountable for 1 in 4 deaths every year. The good news is that we can support heart health by making smarter choices about what we eat and how we live—and one of those choices may be adding more Omega-3 to our diet, say scientists from Pennsylvania State University.
In a small study involving a dozen seniors between 60 and 80 years of age, researchers found that daily supplementation with Omega-3 EPA and DHA may improve cardiovascular function in healthy older adults. Specifically, the increased Omega-3 consumption had a positive effect on arterial stiffness.
As we get older, heart health begins to decline as part of the normal aging process. That decline may result in a hardening or stiffening of the arteries over time, even in people who adhere to a healthy lifestyle. When arteries stiffen, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through them, which can lead to bigger problems later on.
After just three months of taking two Omega-3 supplements twice daily (a total of 4,000 mg each day), participants in the study experienced a notable reduction in arterial stiffness, suggesting that consuming more Omega-3 may promote healthy cardiovascular function as we age.
“These findings provide support for the concept that increased Omega-3 intake may be an efficacious therapy in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in aging humans through effects on central arterial stiffness,” the study authors wrote, pointing out that the effects occurred in a relatively short period of time.