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Diet vs. Regular Soda

Sure, it's lower in calories . . . but is it unhealthy?

By Alyssa Laws
On March 24, 2009

A few years back it seemed that diet sodas started to take over. There was Diet Coke, Diet Rootbeer, and Diet Mountain Dew. Then every time I went out to eat, it appeared that half the people around me were ordering diet. The idea of diet soda makes sense, why not cut out a little over 100 calories every time you had a drink? Diet soda is much better for you in terms of counting calories, but what about the artificial sweetener that is used? A lot of suspicions have arisen regarding the use of aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener that contains zero calories. Some have claimed that it can give you cancer, and it has also been stated that it can cause blindness. So is this sweetener, aspartame, really that bad for human health? According to Cancer.org, aspartame was approved by the FDA in 1981, and was first used in breakfast cereals, gum, coffee, puddings, and many other foods. Then in 1983 it was approved for the use in carbonated beverages. However, many of us only hear about its use as a sweetener in our diet sodas. When comparing Coke and Diet Coke, Diet coke has fewer calories, carbs, sodium, and phosphorus. When comparing aspartame, regular Coke contains 0mg, while Diet Coke contains 125mg. This amount may seem high, but to go over the daily-recommended amount of aspartame, the average adult would need to consume over 19 cans of soda. Also, according to cancer.org, there have been no studies to prove that aspartame causes cancer. However, there are some people that are not able to have aspartame in their diets. According to FDA consumer, those with the genetic disease phenylketonuria are not able to effectively metabolize phenylalanine, which is an amino acid that is part of aspartame. When there are too many amino acids in body fluids, the result can be brain damage. Also, it is recommended that pregnant women with hyperphenylalanine, high levels of phenylalanine in the blood, should not consume aspartame. Other than those rare cases, small amounts of aspartame do not adversely affect human health. So when going down the grocery aisle you have the choice of diet or regular. The tastes are different for both, and it all comes down to preference. Research so far has not proven that diet will give you cancer, or any of the other myths. So calorie wise? Diet is healthier. Taste wise? That's up to you.


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