ONE sugary soft drink a day increases a man's heart disease risk by 20pc, say researchers.
Levels of blood biomarkers linked to heart disease were also raised by regular consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, a study found.
Scientists analysed data on almost 43,000 men taking part in a major health and lifestyle investigation in the US.
They found the association with sugary drinks after controlling for other risk factors including smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and family history.
Men who drank a can of sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 20pc higher risk of heart disease than men who consumed no sugary drinks.
The scientists also measured fats and proteins in the blood which are indicators for heart disease.
Compared with non-drinkers, men who regularly drank sugary beverages had high levels of harmful triglyceride blood fats and the inflammation marker C-reactive protein.
They also had lower levels of high-density lipoprotein, a beneficial form of cholesterol which protects against heart disease.
"This study adds to the growing evidence that sugary beverages are detrimental to cardiovascular health," said study leader Professor Frank Hu, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, US.
"Certainly, it provides strong justification for reducing sugary beverage consumption among patients and, more importantly, in the general population."
Dietician Tracy Parker, from the British Heart Foundation, said: "We already know that too many sugar-sweetened drinks are bad for our teeth and the excess calories from them can make us put on weight -- a risk factor for heart disease.
"The study reminds us that they shouldn't be a daily part of our diet."
His advice: Drink water.