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Sugary soft drinks: How much is too much?

March 01, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Sugary soft drinks are in the news again, this time linked to raised blood pressure. Added sugars in sodas, for example, have no nutritional value and pack on the calories. And though Americans hear the refrain over and over to cut back, they may not know by how much.

The American Heart Assn. in 2009 issued guidelines for the maximum amount of sugar people could have in their daily diet. (Of course, it's OK to have none.)

RELATED: Sugary drinks and high blood pressure -- a link?

The association recommends this: "...Women should consume no more than 100 calories (about 25 grams) of added sugars per day. Most men should consume no more than 150 calories (about 37.5 grams) each day. That’s about six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women and nine for men." Contrast that with the average intake for Americans which, according to one study, was about 22.2 teaspoons or 355 calories per day.

That extra sugar mostly comes from soft drinks. Here's how some drinks stack up, according to

--Coca-Cola, 12-ounce can, 39 grams of sugar
--Red Bull Energy Drink, 8.3 ounces, 27 grams of sugar
--Sobe Mango Melon, 8 ounces, 29 grams of sugar
--Snapple Lemon Iced Tea, 9 ounces, 23 grams of sugar

Get the picture? Two cans will pretty much blow your entire "sugar budget" for the day, that is, if you want to maintain a healthy heart and keep your weight down.

And switching to diet soda might carry its own health warnings -- or not. Check out this recent Los Angeles Times story "Diet soda and heart, stroke risk: A link doesn't prove cause and effect."

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