You might think that eating or drinking something with the word "diet" in the name would be healthier for you, but when it comes to diet soda like Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, or other diet colas, that's just not the case. It's not particularly nutritious, for starters, and drinking Diet Pepsi or other diet sodas might even lead to other health issues. Diet Pepsi isn't really healthier than regular Pepsi, and there are a few reasons why.
What Makes Soda Like Diet Pepsi a "Diet" Soda?
Diet sodas are generally made with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamates, saccharin, acesulfame-k, or sucralose, instead of sugar, according to Healthline. But just because these sodas have low or no sugar or calories, that doesn't make them technically healthier than regular soft drinks.
What Are Some Examples of Diet Soda?
There are lots of "light" or "diet" versions of sodas made by Pepsico and other companies -- Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi Max, Sprite Zero, and more. You've probably seen some of your favorite sodas like Mountain Dew offering versions with zero calories or zero sugar.
Why Isn't Diet Pepsi and Other Soda Healthier?
"Diet soda is essentially a mixture of carbonated water, artificial or natural sweetener, colors, flavors, and other food additives," Healthline explains. And while it might seem like drinking soda with no calories would aid in things like weight loss, there are other risks to drinking it that negate some of the possible benefits.
"Several observational studies have found that using artificial sweeteners and drinking high amounts of diet soda is associated with an increased risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome," Healthline notes.
"Regular soda is generally a mixture of carbonated water and sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup or sucrose; phosphoric acid, if it's a dark cola; 'natural flavors;' and caffeine," The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center reports. "Most sugar substitutes are considered 'non-nutritive,' meaning they offer little to no energy when consumed." In other words, they're not very nutritious, and you might not be happy if you check the nutrition facts on the bottle.
Common ingredients in diet sodas like Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Zero Sugar, and Coca-Cola Light include citric acid, malic acid, and phosphoric acid -- which are linked to the erosion of tooth enamel -- as well as caramel color and preservatives like potassium benzoate that help the sodas last longer and preserves freshness. If you're trying to avoid those things, Diet Pepsi is certainly not healthier than regular soda.
Ultimately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows companies like Pepsi and the Coca-Cola company to use the term "diet" or "light" for these drinks and don't consider the labeling to be misleading. But that doesn't mean sodas or energy drinks that are labeled "diet" should be automatically considered healthier than their usual counterparts.
As always, check the label and make a determination on what's best for you and your diet.