Perspective: Cardiovascular Responses to Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in Humans: A Narrative Review with Potential Hemodynamic Mechanisms

Adv Nutr. 2018 Mar 1;9(2):70-77. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmx023.


Cardiovascular diseases are still the primary cause of mortality worldwide, with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes as major promoters. Over the past 3 decades, almost in parallel with the rise in cardiovascular disease incidence, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) has increased. In this context, SSBs are potential contributors to weight gain and increase the risk for elevations in blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying the cardiovascular and metabolic responses to SSBs, in particular on blood pressure, are poorly understood. We discuss and propose potential mechanisms underlying differential effects of sugars on postprandial blood pressure regulation; provide evidence for additional molecular contributors, i.e., fibroblast growth factor 21, towards sugar-induced cardiovascular responses; and discuss potential cardiovascular neutral sugars. Furthermore, we explore whether pre-existing glucose intolerance in humans exacerbates the cardiovascular responses to SSBs, thus potentially aggravating the cardiovascular risk in already-susceptible individuals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Beverages*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Sugars / pharmacology*
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / blood
  • Glucose Intolerance / blood
  • Glucose Intolerance / complications
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Postprandial Period*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweetening Agents / pharmacology*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Sugars
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors