Q. Is it safe to drink one diet soda a day? My doctor says one should be fine, but I read a lot of bad things about diet beverages.
A Diane McKay, PhD, an assistant professor at Tufts’ Friedman School and a scientist in the HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory, answers: “Some studies have linked diet soda consumption to negative health effects. These include 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. That raises 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 one diet soda a day has not been shown to be harmful. So if you’re also eating an overall healthy diet, one diet soda in a day could be safe. This is consistent with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
“There are alternatives, of course. If you like the bubbles, drink more sparkling water (there are lots of options to choose from). 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 add a little sprig of mint. Or you can have unsweetened iced coffee, tea or even herbal tea. The bottom line is to minimize these sodas in general because they have little nutritional value.”