Is diet soda safe?

Tufts University newsletter recently explored the issue of diet soda safety and why you might want to explore beverage alternatives. Diane McKay, PhD, an assistant professor at Tufts’ Friedman School weighed in on the latest research.

soft drink pour to glass with ice

“Some studies have linked diet soda consumption to negative health effects,” she says, “including obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart attack. But keep in mind that these studies are observational in nature, which means they can’t be used to show cause and effect.”

McKay notes that it does raise the possibility that something other than the diet soda could explain the increased health risks.

“We do know from food safety studies that the amount of artificial sweetener you get in diet soda has not been shown to be harmful,” she says.

McKay suspects that if you are also eating an overall healthy diet, one diet soda in a day should be safe. But, to be on the safe side, she urges folks to try healthier beverage alternatives. If you like the bubbles, drink more sparkling water. You can flavor your own with a little spritz of fruit juice, allowing you to control how much and what kind of sugar goes into it. You can also try unsweetened iced tea, coffee, tea or herbal tea.

“The bottom line is to minimize these sodas in general because they have little nutritional value,” she concludes.