The Match-up: Diet vs. Regular Soda

Which is better – diet or regular soda?

When colas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were first introduced in the late nineteenth which soda is better to drink? Regular soda or diet soda?century, their companies touted their health benefits. Advertisements claimed that these drinks could aid digestion, cure headaches, relieve exhaustion, and bring refreshment to the day.

Over a century later, no one drinks soda for the health benefits. In fact, most medical experts agree that soda—both diet and regular—is expressly bad for your health. But if you’re desperate for a cola, is your best choice diet or regular? Read on for what the experts say.

Regular Soda:


  • Regular soda contains sugar, a naturally occurring substance. Regular soda fans cite the taste of sugar (as opposed to artificial sweeteners) as well as the potential health hazards of the chemicals in artificial sweeteners to support their preference for regular soda.
  • The 140 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar in an average 12-ounce soda may seem like a lot, but these numbers are actually low compared to some other sugary drinks; bottles of Snapple and Starbuck’s Mocha Frappuccino, for instance, both contain around 200 calories and plenty of sugar.


  • Regular soda’s 140 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce serving can add up quickly. Many Americans drink more than a serving a day, a habit that can correspond to over 10 additional pounds of body weight a year.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to this country’s obesity crisis and to a rise in metabolic syndrome (the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke).


Diet Soda:


  • Most diet sodas are zero-calorie drinks, so in theory, they don’t contribute to weight gain (see below for more on this). One recent study funded by the American Beverage Association found that diet soda can actually help people who are trying to lose weight.
  • Since diet sodas do not contain sugar, they are not as bad for your teeth as regular soda.


  • The artificial sweeteners in diet soda can fool the body into craving more sugar—leading to greater weight gain.
  • A long-term study found that people who drank diet soda were 48% more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke later in life than those who did not.

The Conclusion?

Regular and diet sodas both have positives and negatives. When in doubt, go for a nice drink of water!


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