Will diet sodas cause strokes? That’s what you might have heard from the media lately. Research has shown a 50% increase of chance for vascular related ills, such as strokes and heart attacks, by simply consuming one diet soda daily. So, you should pitch your recently-purchased six-pack of zero-calorie sweetened beverages, right? Not so quickly. The study set the daily intake of diet sodas at the beginning of the 9 year observation period, yet it is often very easy to lose track of what we have ingested or forget exactly what we have consumed. It is doubtful that these patterns were stable overtime.
In addition, this study controlled for the effects of age, exercise, calorie intake, smoking, and alcohol, all of which increase risk, but didn’t control for what the subjects ate, or their body mass index. We all know that diet soda drinkers don’t have less obesity or diabetes, probably because they chose to spend those calories-savings on other foods laden with sugar, fat, and salt, which is definitely not a heart-healthy habit. So I’m betting that diet sodas are just a marker for unhealthy diets. Now, I’m a big water guy, and I would rather you drink it, but don’t scold yourself over the occasional diet soda. Instead, focus on what is on the plate next to it!