Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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Can Diet Soda Cause a Heart Attack?
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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It is midday and you are craving that caffeine boost to get you through the rest of the day so you decide to reach for what most believe to be a non-offensive option, diet soda.  Diet sodas often contain sugar substitutes such as sucralose, aspartame or acesulfame potassium to give it its sweet taste, but because the body cannot metabolize or process these sugars they are not used or stored by the body and are calorie free.

Although calorie free, diet soda may come at a cost to your health according to a recent study conducted by NOMAS, a collaborative group of investigators from Columbia University New York and Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.  The study in question involved 3,298 people over 40 years of age, 69 being the average age, of which 63% of participants were women, 21 % Caucasian, 24% African American and 53 % Hispanic.  At the conclusion of the nine+ year study, researchers discovered that those participants who consumed soda daily had a 61 % higher risk of vascular events such as strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, aneurysms, etc. than those who reported drinking no soda at all.

It is imperative to note some major flaws to this particular study.  The first issue is that the participants only reported their soda consumption at the beginning of the study via a questionnaire which does not account for any changes in consumption over the nine year period that reported occurrence of vascular events.  Something else to consider is that over 75% of the participants were African American or Hispanic and both of these ethnicities tend to have an increased risk for vascular disease regardless of soda consumption.  Finally, family history of vascular disease among participants was not accounted for and even though caloric intake was assessed, it was not reported what kinds of foods were consumed.

Now with that said, during an average follow up of 9.3 years, when participants age, sex, race or ethnicity, smoking status, exercise, alcohol consumption, daily caloric intake, metabolic syndrome which consists of obesity and type II diabetes, heart disease history and peripheral vascular disease was accounted for, the increased risk still persisted at a rate of 48% higher than those who drank no soda.  So where do you go from here?  Even though there are some substantial flaws to this study, growing research is indicating that regular soda consumption of any kind may not be beneficial to your health.  If you love soda, consider making it an every now and then beverage rather than an everyday beverage or consider these three more natural options that can help you curb your soda cravings.

  1. Drink water! Add a lemon or other fresh fruit.
  2. Drink some tea and you can sweeten with a little pure honey.
  3. Try carbonated water mixed with a splash of 100% juice for a bit more flavor.

Research Assistance Provided by Sarah Volling


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