If you drink diet soda—or any artificially sweetened beverage, for that matter—chances are you do so because you’re under the impression it’s a healthier option than its regular counterpart. After all, diet drinks typically don’t have any actual sugar, the substance known to cause obesity and a number of other health problems, including heart disease. But, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, artificially sweetened drinks like diet soda are just as likely to lead to heart disease as the sugar-filled regular versions.
For the study, researchers in France looked at data from over 100,000 participants in an ongoing online study that had individuals record their diet, activity level, and health status every six months. From this pool of participants, the research team divided the people into three groups based on their use of diet or sugary beverages: non-users, low-consumers, and high-consumers. Sugary beverages included soft drinks, fruit drinks, and syrups that contained at least five percent sugar, and 100 percent fruit juice. Diet drinks were those that contained artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, or natural sweeteners, such as stevia.
The team then compared each group with the others based on incidences of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiac conditions. Read on for the study’s fascinating and controversial findings regarding diet soda and heart disease. And for concerns about another one of your favorite drinks, know that If You Can Smell This, You’re Drinking Too Much Caffeine, Study Finds.