Why that mid-afternoon soda feels so good

810 adults diagnosed with hypertension or pre-hypertension cut their daily intake of sodas from about one modern Coke to the old 6 1/2 ounce size and saw a real drop in resting blood pressure.

When my body starts to drag and my mind starts to flag, long about mid-afternoon, especially if I worked out that morning, I don't go for a cup of coffee.

I drink a Coke instead. And I feel better.

Now Liwei Chen (right) of the LSU Health Science Center in New Orleans has figured out why.

It's raising my blood pressure.

The Shaanxi-educated epidemiologist (that's Deepintheheartof China, y'all) studied 810 adults diagnosed with hypertension or pre-hypertension, cut their daily intake of sodas by half (from about one modern Coke to the old 6 1/2 ounce size) and saw a real drop in resting blood pressure.

(No, caffeine was not implicated. The effect was isolated to sugar.)

The results, published in the journal Circulation, are being spun to get people to kick sodas and other sweet drinks and reduce the need for medication. Your blood pressure will benefit, even if you don't lose weight, if you just cut back on the sugar, especially fructose, the main sugar used in America.

What's the matter with fructose? George Bakaris, who heads the American Society of Hypertension, has suggested that fructose causes the body to produce uric acid, which can increase blood pressure.

The American Beverage Association, which is already fighting hard against local and state government moves to tax soft drinks (successfully for now), is not going to be amused by the Chen study.

But as a long-term hypertension patient myself, I have learned that the condition isn't just about high blood pressure, but can also be about blood pressure that fluctuates wildly through the day and night.

Mine rises when I do, then declines toward the afternoon. In my case hypotension can put my lights out by mid-afternoon.

Now there's a simple cure. Bring back those classic 6 1/2 ounce bottles. For medicinal purposes. And if you can make it the Mexican way, with cane sugar instead of corn syrup, I'll buy it by the case. (And real vanilla, please. Not that phony stuff you put in New Coke.)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com


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