Diet soda is a popular choice for those who want to sip a fizzy drink without also slurping up a ton of sugar. Unfortunately, a new study claims the calorie-free options could be just as bad for our heart health as regular soda.
According to the American College of Cardiology, French researchers observed over 100,000 participants between 2009 and 2019. They were split into three groups: Those who don’t drink any type of soda at all, those who only drink either diet or regular soda every now and then, and those who drink them frequently. Their results showed that regardless of whether the soda used artificial sweeteners or sugar, drinking them often lead to a significantly higher risk of cardiac issues like strokes and heart attacks. For reference, the “high” level of each ranged from just two and a half to six ounces of the beverage on a daily basis.
“Our study suggests artificially sweetened beverages may not be a healthy substitute for sugar drinks,” Eloi Chazelas, a PhD student and co-author of the study explained. “The data provides additional arguments to fuel the current debate on taxes, labeling, and regulation of sugary drinks and artificially sweetened beverages.”
Basically, the study highlights how diet drinks can seem like the healthier choice, but are still linked to some serious issues. Those trying to boost their heart health by losing weight or managing their blood sugar levels might want to think twice before grabbing one of these beverages.
The researchers will continue to observe participants to get a clearer picture of the soda and heart health connection. However, this is just the latest in several recent studies showing some troubling side effects of chugging diet soda. CNN points out a 2019 study which showed drinking two or more cans of an artificially sweetened beverage increased the risk of clot-based strokes, heart attacks, and early death in women over 50 — even for those without any previous heart health issues.
The French study doesn’t currently place the blame directly on the artificial sweeteners themselves, only that there is a link between the consumption and cardiac issues. Dr. Andrew Freeman, a cardiologist at National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, begs to differ. He told US News & World Report that the diet sodas can trigger an insulin response, which then messes with our blood sugar balance and cause cardiac problems. “At the end of the day, the best calorie-free beverage is water,” Dr. Freeman advised.
We’ll definitely be keeping this in mind the next time we’re looking for something to wet our whistle.