Drinking one can of full-fat soda a day in middle age may increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to new research out of Tufts University in Massachusetts.

A 330ml sugar-laden drink can send cholesterol levels soaring, increasing the risk of clots that cut off blood supply to the heart or brain.

The new study, published last month, found that those who consumed one sugary drink per day had a 98% higher chance of developing low HDL (good) cholesterol and a 53% higher chance of developing high triglycerides (bad cholesterol) when compared to the group who infrequently consumed sugary drinks. The researchers looked at 6,000 over-40s for 12 years before drawing their conclusion.

Drinking sugary beverages was associated with HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels that, when measured at approximately four-year intervals, were moving in the wrong direction among daily drinkers. These findings were consistent when studying full fat beverages, but diet soda and 100% juice drinks did not adversely affect cholesterol. Researchers still encourage moderation.

There are some limitations to the study, however. Participants were asked to self-report data using soda frequency questionnaires, which can be unreliable. The findings are also only generalizable to middle-aged or older adults of European descent. Still, it’s not a totally surprising finding. Full fat sodas offer no nutritional benefits at all and are best avoided if possible.

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