Results stemmed from the French NutriNet-Santé study with over 104,000 participants and their dietary records, completed every six months, according to a news release. Findings were published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology.
“Compared to non-consumers, both higher consumers of sugary drinks and of artificially sweetened beverages had higher risks of first incident cardiovascular disease, after taking into account a wide range of confounding factors,” study authors wrote.
These incidents were serious, including strokes and heart attacks. After dropping the first three years of a decades-worth of follow-up data to remove biases, researchers found that nearly 1,400 participants had their first case of heart disease.
Kate Patton, who was not involved in the study and is a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition, told Fox News she advises patients to opt for fruit-infused water, among other choices, as a healthy alternative.
“Whether patients prefer sugar sweetened drinks or sugar substitutes, I always caution patients to use either sparingly,” Patton wrote in an emailed statement. “This study confirms what we know from other research, which is that excess portions of both added/sugary drinks and sugar sweetened beverages have a negative impact on overall health and can increase risk of chronic disease.
“To help patients reduce intake of either, I recommend patients try flavoring water in alternative ways — adding a squeeze of lemon/lime/orange, fruit-infused water (make pitcher of water and add fruit or cucumber to it), try herbal teas (passion fruit is one of the most flavorful in my opinion), or seltzer waters.”
The lead study author said the findings may play a role in regulatory discussions.
“Our study suggests artificially sweetened beverages may not be a healthy substitute for sugar drinks, and these data provide additional arguments to fuel the current debate on taxes, labeling and regulation of sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages,” Chazelas said.
Study authors called for future investigations to confirm the connection between the drinks and heart disease.