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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Pumped Up Soft Drinks


Americans are getting the most calories from soft drinks than from any other source. An article by the Center for Science in the Public Interest says Americans drink more than 50 gallons of soft drinks per year. For the first time in decades, soft drink consumption was down in the United States in 2004. Soft drink companies are encouraging their research and development teams to come up with new and innovative products to try to turn this trend around.

The Coca Cola company has just launched a new product, Diet Coke Plus. Basically it is Diet Coke with added vitamins and minerals. It has added niacin, B6, B12, zinc, and magnesium. PepsiCo has announced that it will have a similar product, Tava, ready to launch in the fall of 2007. It is said to have added niacin, B6, Vitamin E, and chromium. Dr. Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. came out with their 7 Up Plus product back in 2004. It has 5% fruit juice and calcium.

Are these beverages good for you? All of the beverages listed above are diet, so they are not contributing a significant amount of calories to the diet. I do not have a problem with drinking diet soft drinks in moderation. If you have one or two per day, it is not a big deal. If you start drinking 10 cans of diet soda per day, that is a lot. However, no medical evidence to date shows that it is harmful to your body to drink diet soft drinks. Non-nutritive sweeteners have been highly studied and approved for consumption.

These new drinks are being touted as “healthy” soft drinks because of the added vitamins and minerals. The American diet as a whole is not deficient in niacin, Vitamins B6, B12, or E. Zinc, magnesium, and chromium are also abundant in our food supply and in our diets. Calcium intake is low for many people, and if you are going to drink a diet soft drink anyway, drinking one with added calcium may not be a bad idea. That brings me to another point. It is a myth that soft drinks leach calcium from your bones. The plain and simple truth is that in the past 30 years milk consumption has gone down and soft drink consumption has gone up. People are getting less calcium and replacing it with soft drinks. You can easily get your calcium from 2-4 servings of milk, yogurt, cheese, or calcium fortified food products each day.

Chromium
has been touted in some arenas as being a weight loss supplement, claiming to burn fat and increase metabolism. The studies to this point have been inconclusive and have not shown this effect.

Bottom line
If you are going to drink an occasional diet soft drink anyway, these soft drinks with added vitamins and minerals will not hurt you. There are not enough nutrients added to be harmful. However, if you are eating a well-balanced diet, you do not need the extra vitamins and minerals they are adding. Eat whole grains, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy for a well balanced diet. Drink water for hydration.

Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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