Does Diet Soda Increase Your Risk of a Stroke?:
The Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Cardiovascular Events
Back in the early 60s, as scientific evidence began to mount regarding the detrimental health effects of excessive sugar consumption, Coca-Cola and other major soda companies began to release diet soda alternatives. The first diet sodas were sweetened by artificial sweeteners known as cyclamates, which are now banned in the United States. Now the five “non-nutritive” artificial sweeteners used in diet soda production are saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose.
When you’re trying to cut down on sugar consumption or lose weight, doctors will often tell you that the best place to start is by cutting soda out of your diet. After all, one 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains a whopping 39 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent of about 3 and a half donuts. Yikes!
Although these synthetic substances were originally created to provide soda-drinkers with a healthier, more diet-friendly alternative, studies suggest that consumption of artificially sweetened diet soft drinks may be causing more harm than the regular versions.
Studies Linking Artificial Sweeteners to Negative Health Outcomes
Recent studies are investigating the effects of frequent consumption of artificially sweetened diet beverages with negative health outcomes like stroke, dementia and even type II diabetes. While diet sodas aren’t loaded with the same amounts of unhealthy sugars and corn syrup that are in regular pop, their artificial chemicals have a known effect on brain function and heart health. Multiple studies have been conducted to investigate the association between the consumption of artificially sweetened diet drinks like Diet Coke, and the results suggest staying away from regular sodas and diet sodas altogether.
A published paper from the Boston University School of Medicine suggests that people who consume a large quantity of artificially sweetened soft drinks may be up to three times more likely to suffer from a stroke or dementia.
As part of the population-based Women’s Health Initiative, a recent study examined the causes of illness and death in postmenopausal women for 12 years. The women were ages 50-79 years old with no history of diabetes or heart disease, who drank two or more artificially sweetened, 12-ounce beverages per day. The study found that those women had increased their risk of clot-based stroke and heart attack by as much as 31% compared to women who drank less than one artificially sweetened beverage per week.
Alternatives to Soda: Water, Water, Water!
So, what is worse for health, drinking regular sodas or diet alternatives? The simple solution is to simply cut out both sugary soda drinks and diet soda altogether, and just drink water or other low-sugar alternatives. While this may seem easier said than done, the countless benefits of drinking water regularly are quite motivating. Drinking water helps you lose weight, keeps you energized, fights stress, regulates body temperature, boosts skin health, and supports healthy digestion. The list of water’s benefits go on and on.
If you are trying to reduce your intake of sugary drinks, here are a few heart-healthy recommendations to make water a little more exciting. Your heart and your body will thank you!
- Try sparkling water with zero sugar or additives, like La Croix, which gives you that zingy soda feeling without the negative side effects.
- Infuse water with fresh fruits to give it a naturally sweetened flavor.
- Drink unsweetened iced teas and add lemon or mint for an extra kick.
To learn more about cardiovascular health and maintaining a heart-healthy diet, visit our team of experts at CVG today.