Health Facts About Diet Drinks

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Diet drinks create a lot of controversy due to their use of artificial sweeteners. Find out why diet drinks can be used as a healthy addition to a diet with help from a registered and licensed dietitian in this free video on health and nutrition.

Part of the Video Series: Health & Nutrition
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Video Transcript

My name is Christine Marquette, and I'm a registered and licensed dietitian with Marquette Nutrition and Fitness, and I've been asked about the health effects of diet drinks. There's a lot of controversy with diet drinks, whether it's diet soda or any other sugar-free beverage, regarding what the artificial sweetener is that is being used to substitute for sugar. In the past -- in the recent past -- aspartame was usually the most common choice of sugar substitute for various diet drinks, and there's been a lot of controversy with aspartame -- a lot of Internet hoaxes, if you will, claiming that aspartame can cause cancer and a variety of other health conditions. There's also been some controversy with some of the newer sugar substitutes -- things like Splenda. What we can say is that so far all of the research studies that have been done on these artificial sweeteners have shown that, in general, they don't cause any particular health condition, any health risk, when it comes to aspartame or Splenda. Saccharine, on the other hand, that is an older sugar substitute that is not found nearly as often these days as in actual diet drinks. That particular artificial sweetener was associated with an increase risk of cancer, but again, aspartame and Splenda have not been found to have an increase in cancer. There is a newer artificial sweetener on the market. It's actually made from a natural herb called stevia. There's two brands. There's PureVia and there's Truvia. Now, these are actually more marketed as a natural sugar substitute because, again, they were isolated from the stevia plant. However, when you think of isolating a particular extract from a plant, it loses the sense of it being natural because it has actually been formulated into a consistent product. It doesn't vary product to product, so from that perspective, it's a little bit different than the actual herb stevia. Those new diet drinks are slowly coming out on the market. They've, very recently, gotten approval to be marketed. There's a potential that more people will benefit from those particular drinks because they do seem to have an even lower risk, having come from a natural herb. But as far as in general, again, most of these diet drinks, they haven't shown any additional risk for different diseases, whether it's cancer or diabetes or anything like that. So from that perspective, if you're looking to control your sugar intake, they can be a healthy addition to your diet.

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