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Can Diet Drinks Be Part of Healthy Diet?

New research shows good results when diet drinks are part of overall healthy diet


Links between the consumption of diet drinks and health problems have been reported in the past, but no smoking gun has ever been found. Now researchers have uncovered the secret weapon. Eating a healthy diet, with or without diet beverages, lowers the risk for chronic disease.

Does this come as a surprise to you? It certainly doesn't to me. I have always professed that no single food or ingredient is responsible for obesity or the diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer that go with it.

Here's what the latest study found.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill looked at the dietary patterns of more than 4000 Americans who were between the ages of 18 and 30 when the study began in the mid-1980s. Subjects were classified as having a "Prudent" diet made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk, fish, nuts and seeds or a "Western" diet with higher intakes of fast food, processed food, meat, poultry, pizza, sugar, and snacks.

Over the course of 20 years, 827 participants in the study developed metabolic syndrome. After considering other risk factors, such as body weight and level of exercise, the researchers evaluated the relationship between the use of diet drinks (DD) and the two dietary patterns and the risk of metabolic syndrome. This is what they found.

Those who ate a:

  • Prudent diet with no DD had the lowest risk (19%) of metabolic syndrome
  • Prudent diet with DD had a slightly higher risk (20%) of metabolic syndrome
  • Western diet with DD had the highest risk (32%) of metabolic syndrome

The researchers concluded that their study was observational and does not prove diet beverages have a negative effect on health. But there's another way to look at the results. Since those eating a Prudent diet were more likely to consume diet drinks than those eating a Western diet, it suggests a strong link between diet drinks and healthier diets.