Just because it lacks sugar doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Nutrition science can be confusing, but there’s pretty much no doubt about soda. It’d be tough to find any nutritionist who’d would argue that soda has ample health benefits.
But what about diet soda? If the problem with soda is all those heaps of sugar, shouldn’t diet soda—which doesn’t have sugar and therefore fewer calories—be a healthier choice?
According to Sharon Richter, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City, diet sodas may be free of refined white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, but they’re still packed with other chemicals. Most diet sodas have some type of artificial color or flavor added. Phosphorus—found in diet soda as well as regular soda—is used to help flavor colas. This element is essential for the body, but the large amounts in soda can cause your body to leach calcium from the bones. For this reason, drinking cola regularly could affect your odds of developing problems like osteoporosis.
And the research on whether diet soda actually helps you lose weight is mixed. Some research suggests artificial sweeteners found in diet soda may affect your body’s ability to gauge how many calories you’ve consumed. “The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more,” according to the Harvard School of Public Health. “By providing a sweet taste without any calories, however, artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods and drinks, which can add up to excess calories.”
Instead of drinking diet soda, the healthiest thing you can do is switch to water—but you already know that. Bored with plain H20? For a flavorful and bubbly drink, try flavoring plain seltzer with a splash of fruit or fruit juice. You can keep things exciting with exotic juices like passion fruit or lychee, or you can venture beyond fruits and try seltzer with lime and fresh mint—kinda like a virgin mojito.
If you’re really having trouble giving up soda for good, Richter recommends choosing the regular soda (the one with real sugar), but sticking to a smaller serving size.
Sharon Richter is a registered dietitian with a private nutrition practice in New York City.
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Hi, I'm Dr. Preeti Parikh.
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We all grew up loving having
a soda once in a while.
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But nowadays, we've been hearing
a lot of bad things about soda.
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So we called Sharon Richter
to find out why.
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Why are sodas so unhealthy for us?
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So I find that sodas are unhealthy
because they have artificial colorings
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they have a lot of chemicals in them.
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All those that are cola,
whether it's actually regular or diet,
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have phosphorous in it, which is said
to also pull calcium out of your bones.
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So they don't have any vitamins or
any nutrients that the body needs,
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that they're not gonna
be anything beneficial.
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So as much as you can,
I tell people to avoid them.
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What are the differences between
diet soda versus regular soda versus
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low calorie sodas like Pepsi One and
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Sometimes, they're using less amount
of sugar and some alternative sweeteners.
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a traditional can of coke is 180 calories.
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And they have a new kind of Coke,
I think it's called Coke Life,
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which is 90 calories, and
then their diet is 0.
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So if you were craving a soda,
what would you recommend,
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a regular soda, a diet soda or
one of these low calorie sodas?
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So generally, I would actually say,
if you could have soda, but
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just have a small amount of it.
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That would probably be the best option,
so you're avoiding some of the chemicals.
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It's never gonna be chemical free.
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But what would be ideal is if you could
even switch to another carbonated
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beverage, such as just having seltzer.
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Even if you wanna put a little bit of
juice in it to get a different flavor,
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that would probably be
the ideal situation to do.
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Thanks so much, Sharon.
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