Food Fight: Regular Soda vs. Diet Soda

by in Healthy Tips, April 23, 2013

Should you go for the sugar-filled soda or the one made with artificial stuff? Find out which is better to sip on when you’re in the mood for soda.

Regular Soda
It’s filled with sugar and a ton of empty calories, but soda can be part of a healthy eating plan if it’s consumed rarely and as a special treat. However, studies have found that soda is one of the top sources of sugar in our diets. New York City has even tried to ban the sale of sugary beverages that are larger than 16 fluid ounces to help keep soda portions in check.

In addition to leading to weight gain, studies have found that folks who guzzle large amounts of soda tend to drink less milk and take in fewer nutrients like calcium. Furthermore, drinking large amounts of soda can be detrimental to your bones. Soda contains high amounts of phosphates, which can deplete the body’s calcium stores.

Diet Soda
Although you may save on calories, diet soda has a whole other set of issues. First, the drink provides zero nutritional value. Food you choose to ingest should add good-for-you vitamins, minerals or phytonutrients. Second, the phosphates found in diet or regular soda can deplete calcium stores (as mentioned above).

Lastly and most controversial are the artificial sweeteners diet soda possesses. Although artificial sweeteners are on the government’s Generally Recognized As Safe List (GRAS) there has been much debate as to whether consuming them regularly is good for you. Given that artificial sweeteners can now be found in a wide variety of foods (like yogurt, ice cream, cookies, salad dressings and iced teas other beverages) you may be taking in more than you think.

Some diet sodas also use Stevia, but that’s also processed and controversy looms about its long-term safety.

Healthy Eats Winner: Although both beverages have a long list of cons, diet soda wins this fight by the smallest of margins. Drinking large amounts of regular soda has been shown to lead to weight gain and a variety of long health conditions and switching to diet can help cut calories and shed pounds. However, whether you decide to drink diet or regular soda, neither should be consumed in large amounts. The healthiest beverage out there is still or sparkling water, so making water your beverage of choice is the best option.

TELL US: Who gets your vote: regular or diet soda?

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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Comments (60)

  1. Mar says:

    Diet soda is just plain nasty. I cannot see how anyone enjoys it. It actually made me nauseous. I drink the regular soda (12 oz) about 6 times a year. I feel that it is the lessor of the two evils…and the artificial products are definitely not good for growing children. I just do not keep it in my house. It is a treat like you said. Sometimes I want something sweet to satisfy my craving, so I have a regular soda pop. It does the job! It is a lot less calories than a piece of cheese cake or ice cream. So, I cannot see cutting it out of your diet completely…anything in moderation…that is the key.

  2. teresa says:

    diet soda does have its negative stuff but im diabetic and once in a while i will have a diet coke and caffeine free,just once in awhile, like maybe 2-3 times a week a 12 oz can.but basically water is best and god knows i drink plenty of it..

  3. Judith says:

    I'm not a youngster and drink diet soda perhaps 2 or3 times per week. Otherwise mostly water and 1% low fat milk.
    As a kid we never had any type of soda at home, but it was not as ubiquitous as now.
    My granddaughter likes to combine clear soda and some real fruit juice. That seem great as an occasional alternative to water or milk.

  4. Suzie says:

    Why are you people still drink soda's period ? Dr. Oz says they are no good for you at all….what is wrong with just drinking WATER ????? This won't hurt your kidneys……and I don't see how anyone could even drink the diet kind….it is just plain nasty…….

  5. Laura says:

    I wouldn't drink an soda. The "real" thing is loaded with sugar and the diet is loaded with scary ingredients. Choose water and flavor it with lemon, fruit, min, cucumber… anything!

    I also enjoy brewing my own kombucha. It's great for recovery and digestion!

  6. beyoungyou says:

    Most diet sodas contain aspartame which has been shown to cause cancerous tumors, particularly in the brain. Regular soda isn't much better. Solution is to quit soft drinks. They are not addictive (unless they contain caffeine) and after a day or two, you don't even notice the absence of soda in your life.

    • J. Condos says:

      I am no young woman anumore, I am also a typeII diabetic, I do not drink any kind of soda! If I find myself in a situation or in a group who want you to drink an alcoholic beverage,I ask for a seltzer water with a cherry in it,theynever know the difference. As for at home,I drink water exclusively,even over some fruit juices high in sugar. Freash sliced fruit or an orange, and not much of that. Thanks, I'm no Saint,but I try to manage my sugars as best I can.

    • says:

      There is zero evidence that aspartame causes even a slight increase in cancer risk, let alone "cancerous tumors." Also, yes, sugar can be addictive even in the absence of caffeine.

  7. Wendy says:

    Moderation in ALL things, including soda and diet soda. I prefer diet soda and drink it rarely. My mind probably wouldn't let me even like regular soda because of the sugar content. So on the rare occasion that I indulge my craving, diet it will be.

  8. Rene says:

    I prefer regular soda, but a 12 pack lasts me close to a year unless I have guests who help drink it. I prefer naturally fizzy water with a squeeze of lime or lemon or grapefruit.

  9. ChefRobert says:

    Do not drink either as they are total poison. The best thing one can do if they have them is pour them down the drain. Personally I have not purchased or drank any of the poison drinks in over 50 years. I have seen people that are hooked on the poison drinks and when trying to stop have withdrawals just Heroin. I would never feed this poison to my children and for a fact did not and they are in their 50's now. I would rather they have a small glass of good beer or wine which is more healthy than any of the sugar filled sodas or the poison diet sodas. I teach free cooking classes, named HOW TO COOK HEALTHY AT HOME AND OUTSIDE THE GOVERNMENT POISON BOX, for our own government is allowing thousands of poison toxins to be laced in the processed food supplies and all for profits, so the profits can grease the palms of your Politician. enough said for I have found that all politicians from the top down are void of honor or morals and would sell their own into slavery for 30 pieces of blood stained silver.

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