Reading List: Sugar and High Blood Pressure, Relaxation Drinks & Test Your Calorie Knowledge!

In this week’s nutrition news: Sleepless nights linked to weight gain, USDA is pro-soda tax and the new buzz about relaxation drinks.

In this week’s nutrition news: Sleepless nights linked to weight gain, USDA is pro-soda tax and the new buzz about relaxation drinks.

New Fad: Relaxation Drinks

If energy drinks like Red Bull and Jolt get you too amped up, there's now a drink that has the opposite effect.  "Relaxation" drinks, with soothing names like Unwind, Dream Water and mouthful Koma Unwind Chillaxation, are made to help you chill out.  The more than 350 varieties of these calming beverages are expected to bring in a whopping %500 million in revenue this year.  So, are they safe?  Well, they’re not regulated by the FDA, so what’s put in them could potentially be dangerous, especially if you’re taking medications. Some have ingredients like melatonin which can alter sperm count and shouldn’t be used if you’re trying to get pregnant. As we’ve said before, save your money and be careful -- these drinks could be more dangerous than you think.

TELL US: Have you tried "relaxation" drinks?
Lack of Sleep Leads to Weight Gain

Here’s just another good reason why it’s important to get a good night’s rest: A new study concluded that women who don’t get enough sleep gain weight. About one-third of women who had trouble sleeping gained at least 11 pounds, verses about one-fifth of women who had a good night’s sleep. One theory is that lack of sleep messes with your appetite-regulating hormones, causing you to overeat.

USDA Pro-Soda Tax

There’s been much debate as to whether taxing soda will help fight obesity. In response, the USDA conducted their own study and concluded that a 20 percent soda tax could have the potential to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obese folks by 62.4 percent and 30.4 percent, respectively. They figured that an average of 37 calories per day would be saved, which would equal to 3.8 pounds over a year for adults.

TELL US: Do you think the soda tax can help fight the obesity epidemic?
Sugar Can Raise Blood Pressure, Too

It’s pretty well known that too much salt is linked to high blood pressure. But a new study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology concluded that folks consuming too much high fructose corn syrup may also be at risk. Drinking at least 2.5 cans of non-diet soda per day (or equal amounts of fructose from other foods) was found to increase the risk of high blood pressure by at least 30 percent. Foods tested included punch, soda, cookies, candy and chocolate. This is just another reason to eat these junk foods in moderation.

Take the Calorie Quiz!

Are you aware of how many calories are in the foods you’re eating? Studies show that most people have no clue. Test your knowledge by taking this quiz. Tell us how many questions you got correct and which foods surprised you the most!

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

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