Why you shouldn't consider 'diet' or 'lite' cold drinks as the better option

Are diet cold drinks really the healthier option?
Are diet cold drinks really the healthier option?

The health risks of sugary drinks, from juice to cold drinks, are well known.

They can lead to overweight and diabetes, stroke and other problems in the brain, including poorer memory and smaller brain volume.

But cold drinks aren't the answer.

Increased risk of disease

A number of studies have found an association between artificially sweetened beverages and an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, heart attack and other heart-related deaths in women.

The most recent was published earlier this year in the journal Stroke, with researchers suggesting that, even without identifying a specific cause and effect, people should seriously consider the potentially harmful effects of artificially sweetened drinks.

And there's more.

Brain-altering substance

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine followed 4 000 people of both sexes over 10 years.

Using MRI tests, they linked just one artificially sweetened cold drink a day to brain changes that can lead to dementia, as well as the type of stroke caused by a blockage in a blood vessel.

These risks were triple those of people who don't drink cold drinks. It didn't seem to matter which common artificial sweetener – saccharin, aspartame or sucralose – was consumed.

While some people see diet cold drinks as a way of weaning off regular cold drinks, it may be healthier in the long run to skip this type of transition.

Healthier alternatives

If you like cold drink's carbonation more than the better option of water, flavor plain seltzer (carbonated water) with a squeeze of your favorite citrus fruit, a few crushed berries or both.

For variety, try freshly grated ginger, chopped mint or a teaspoon of vanilla. Also consider replacing soda with a glass of milk – you'll get important protein and a shot of calcium in the bargain.

Image credit: iStock

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