Food Fight: Regular Soda vs. Diet Soda

by in Healthy Tips, April 23, 2013

soda
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 (59)

  1. Vicky says:

    This article confuses me, I would think you would be much more anti soda, period!!! I used to drink a 6 pack a day. Luckily I kicked the can a few years ago when I learned the truth about what they put in them. And DIEt is even worse with man made synthetic sweeteners that kill. I also found a company that transformed my fat, cranky, tired but into a wellness warrior by offering me a healthy alternative sweetened with high grade stevia. That made it easy and now we have a four wonderful flavors, it helps me drink the amount of water I should with additional body alkalizing and health benefits.
    If you want to know more about it, let me know.

  2. Kathy says:

    The bottom line is this…I drink regular soda as a treat…in moderation…no soda is good for especially diet soda..there too many sweeteners and too many chemicals….if you are going to have a soda once in awhile, drink the regular, but I'm a believer of drinking mostly water….that is what I do..

  3. AuntJane says:

    Aspartame give me blurred vision and a 36 hour migraine! Regular soda is bad enough but aspartame is poison!

  4. Chef Art says:

    They are both crap! Sugar is the blame for all chronic illness.

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  6. Tracebooks says:

    @AuntJane, I get the same problem. And Splenda gives me 3 WEEK migraines that have less nausea, but more pain.

    I do herb teas (grow my own lemon balm, stevia, and several mints, plus there are store brands I like, plus hibiscus flowers), kombucha, cucumber slices or mint leaves or lemon juice in ice water. And a friend who drinks similar things uses a Soda Stream to turn her herb teas into deeply, complexly-flavored "pop" that is so much better than any store brand! The herb teas contain all kinds of helpful, healthy compounds: hibiscus, for example, has scientific studies showing it helps lower blood pressure, is a mild diuretic, and lowers body temperature more than other, similar teas, making it a great hot-weather drink.

  7. Scott Andrade says:

    Good basic information here; although no mention of Aspertame as the real "killer"? Makes me wonder how legit this information is in the big picture. I guess that even "healthy eats" information has to be careful when speaking on products offered by corporate giants who pay thier bills. I get it…just a thought.

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  9. Nadeen K. says:

    Love the Food Network's blog! Easy on the eyes and to follow. I'm finding all sorts of answers for myths about certain foods and their actual nutritional values, I find myself spending a long time on this blog as I am guilty of being a foodie hahaha. As per the post, still in the process of quitting soda altogether, as one can would say calorie-free, but would lack in so many nutrients it does nobody any good, not to mention those artificial sweeteners, definitely a death trap in the long run.

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