There are few drinks more popular than diet soda. Your fridge probably holds a few cans of it right now! It’s so tasty and refreshing, it’s hard not to love. However, sooner or later, even the biggest cola fans ask: is Diet Coke healthy?
Knowing the answer to this question is especially important if your diet soda consumption is on the high side. What’s more, you’ve probably heard a lot about the supposed health benefits, as well as adverse health outcomes, of the daily intake of this beverage.
But, how much of this information is true, and how much is made up? Keep reading to find the answer to all these questions and more!
Diet Coke Vs. Regular Coke – What’s the Difference?
Diet Coke, also known as Coca-Cola Diet and Coca-Cola Light, is a beverage that’s made and distributed by the Coca-Cola Company. It’s a low-calorie soft drink that uses artificial sweeteners instead of sugar.
The primary difference between regular soda and diet soda is a mixture of carbonated water and caloric sweetener. These sweeteners can be anything from sucrose to phosphoric acid.
In the case of dark cola, “natural sweeteners and flavors,” as well as caffeine, are used.
Diet cola, on the other hand, contains similar ingredients with one key distinction: they replace the sugars found in regular soda with substitutes. These substitutes range from the artificial sweetener aspartame to stevia and sucralose.
It’s important to highlight that the intake of sugar substitutes offers zero nutritive value.
Is Diet Coke Healthy?
Answering the big question, “Is Diet Coke healthy?” can be tough. This is because the consumption of diet drinks has been shown to have both merits and demerits.
We’ll be exploring some of the positive and negative health implications of the consumption of diet soda now.
Potential Positive Health Impacts and Effects of Diet Soda
There may be some health benefits to consuming this particular type of soft drink. At the top of that list include:
Diet Coke May Help with Calorie Reduction
Certain experimental studies suggest that controlled consumption of this fizzy drink can help with average weight loss efforts. As it doesn’t add extra calories to your diet, it may help some people see the result of weight management faster.
Diet Coke May Help Reduce Sugar Intake in Diet
The average diet soda drinker will typically consume less sugar than those who take regular sugary drinks.
This is because it’s been confirmed that a regular 12-oz can of coke can contain as much as 10 teaspoons of table sugar. Many different types of diet soda don’t contain nearly as many grams of sugar.
Diet soft drinks can help more efficiently manage sugar cravings while also limiting the amount of sugar that goes into the body.
Diet Coke Can Help Enhance Blood Sugar Control
Just like regular soda contains copious amounts of sugar, it also boasts a large dose of carbohydrates. In a 12-oz soda can, more than 35 grams of carbohydrates could be added to your diet. This is roughly the same amount of carbs that you’re supposed to get from a 1,800-calorie diet.
Diet soda doesn’t flood your body with as many carbs. This in turn means you get more regular blood sugar levels and reduced chances of a blood sugar spike, not accounting for other lifestyle factors.
Having said the above, it’s vital to stress that most physicians typically wouldn’t recommend you add diet soda to your diet to get any nutritional benefit.
We’ll soon see why.
Potential Health Consequences of Diet Soda Intake
There is a multitude of potential adverse health effects and health detriments that can be expected from drinking cans of Diet Coke, many of which are backed by human studies.
Some of the short and long-term health risks associated with consuming large amounts of diet soda include:
Coronary Heart Disease and Diabetes
Some of the biggest health issues to be expected from the constant intake of diet soda per day are heart disease and diabetes.
Even though these beverages don’t classify as high-calorie foods and don’t contain fat or sugar, they’ve still been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
In addition to this, a recent observational study confirmed that consumption of these drinks could also lead to incidents of high blood pressure. Beyond this, these soft drinks also increased the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Regular consumption of these carbonated beverages has been suggested to increase the risk of kidney disease. In an observational study, it was discovered that the risk of development of kidney disease increased with the glasses of diet soda that were consumed.
It’s suggested that the high phosphorus content in the cans of Diet Coke is responsible for the development of kidney disease observed in drinkers of this beverage.
It’s worth mentioning that research in this area has been somewhat conflicting. As an example, another scientific report concluded that the malate and citrate content contained in diet soda can prove useful in treating kidney stones.
Risk During Pregnancy
The negative effects of ingesting glasses of diet soda on pregnant women have also been well-established.
An observational study conducted on more than 60,000 pregnant women in Norway showed that subjects who consumed these products from beverage companies had a higher chance of experiencing preterm delivery. Other scientific reports have also confirmed these findings.
In addition, there also appears to be an association between diet soda intake in pregnant women and an increased risk of childhood obesity.
Another study yielded conclusive evidence that subjects who drank diet soda during pregnancy were more likely to show a higher chance of giving birth to babies who would be overweight at 1 year of age.
More research still has to be conducted to further ascertain the validity of these claims.
Is Diet Coke healthy to drink?
The truth remains that there’s too much conflicting evidence to answer that question conclusively. One possible reason for so much contrasting scientific data is that the research in this area is mostly observational.
So, while you might hear one astonishing health warning after the other about ingesting these drinks, the fact remains that scientists are still a long way from drawing concrete conclusions on the health impacts of diet soda consumption.
Having said that, please remember that healthier options for sugary drinks are always worth exploring. From milk to fruit-infused water, sparkling water, and even regular water, there’s a long list of great substitutes for diet soda.
See here for more tips on healthy eating.