The Great Soda Debate: Regular or Diet - is one really healthier than the other?
You don’t have to be a health nut to know that soda isn’t good for you. But is it really all that bad?
Is it ok to just have it once in a while? And if you’re going to have it, is it better to have the regular ol’ sugar-filled version or the zero calorie “diet” kind?
Well, let’s weigh-in on the facts:
Regular soda - as bad as they say?
● It doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin) that have gotten a really bad rap lately
● The sugar! A 12-ounce can of cola has about 8 teaspoons; almost the daily limit as recommended by the American Heart Association
● Drinking 1-2 cans a day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%
● Regular sodas are filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which is linked to obesity, heart disease and fatty liver disease
Diet soda - is it actually better for you?
● It feeds the craving for something sweet without adding extra calories or carbs, if you’re concerned about this
● Since it’s sugar-free, diabetics can sip without worrying about the direct hit to their insulin and blood sugar levels
● While diet soda may be considered ‘safe’ for diabetics, they are far from nutritious as the artificial sweeteners in diet soda actually cause you to crave more sugar. When we drink it, our body is expecting sugar. Then when it doesn’t get it, it responds with even more cravings - for sugar!
● Diet soda drinkers tend to gain more weight particularly around their belly. One study said that frequent drinkers of diet soda gained up to three times more belly fat than their non-diet soda drinking counterparts.
● Diet soda is now being linked with cancer, heart attacks, strokes and neurological disorders.
The verdict on soda
Neither regular or diet soda are going to improve your health. They are literally devoid of any health benefits. In fact, both are linked to significant health issues.
So what should you choose?
The best bet would be to steer clear of both, if you can. However, if you do decide to have a soda from time to time, the choice is ultimately up to you.
If you’re sensitive to sugar, then perhaps the diet soda may be your best bet. But, if artificial sweeteners wreak havoc on your digestive system, you may want to go with the regular soda instead.
What to drink instead
The healthiest drink you can give your body is plain old water. And while water may not seem as exciting as soda, you can shake it up by adding lemon, lime or berries - or even cucumber and mint for a bit of flavour.
Sparkling waters (sugar free and artificial sweetener free) can also be a great alternative for a soda replacement since they still contain some bubbles and fizz.
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Wiley Online Library - Diet study & waist circumference study
Harvard School of Public Health - Soft Drinks & Disease
American Heart Association - Sugar 101
Healthline - Is Diet Soda Safe for Diabetes?