A new study has shown a surprising link between sugar in drinks and blood pressure.

The research, led by Liwei Chen, Assistant Professor of Public Health at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has found that by cutting daily consumption of sugary drinks by just one serving a day, people can lower their blood pressure.

“We found no association for diet beverage consumption or caffeine intake and blood pressure, suggesting that sugar may actually be the nutrient that is associated with blood pressure and not caffeine which many people would suspect,” Dr. Chen said.

The research analyzed dietary intake and blood pressure of 810 adults measured at baseline, 6 and 18 months. After known risk factors of high blood pressure were controlled for, a reduction in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption of one serving per day was associated with a drop of 1.8 mm Hg in systolic pressure and 1.1 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure over 18 months.

After additional adjustment for weight change over the same period, a reduction in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was still significantly associated with blood pressure reduction.

“By reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, you are also reducing the number of calories you consume and may lose weight. But even among those whose weight was stable, we still found that people who drank fewer sugary sodas lowered their blood pressure,” Dr. Chen said.

The research is published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.