When choosing which type beverage to drink, you may be concerned about the health benefits of your choice. While plain water is hydrating and recommended by medical professionals as a preferable choice, diet soda or tea can give you a punch of flavor without adding calories. Before including either into your diet, learn some of the benefits and possible pitfalls of each type of drink.
All tea comes from the leaves, flowers or stems of plants. Black, white and green tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Herbal teas such as chamomile, raspberry, peach and peppermint all come from other plants and herbs. Diet soda, on the other hand, is a manufactured drink with ingredients that include water, artificial sweeteners, color enhancers and chemical and natural flavorings. The artificial sweetener in soda may be aspartame, sucralose or saccharin.
Diet Soda Considerations
Although diet sodas are zero-calorie drinks that help you avoid the calories in regularly sweetened sodas, the diet soda offers no nutritional value. Additionally, drinking diet soda may increase your risk of stroke, as evidenced in a February 2011 study unveiled at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference. Because diet soda is carbonated, you may experience gas or stomach upset. Diet cola also contains about 4 mg of sodium per 8 oz. and about 45 mg of caffeine per 12 oz.
Tea contains natural plant materials, which have polyphenols, a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants play a role in fending off free radicals that can cause damage to the cells of your body. If you drink your tea brewed and add no sugar, the tea is calorie free. Non-herbal teas such as green and black also contain caffeine. Although caffeine can cause an increase in your heart rate and resting metabolism, one 5-oz. cup of tea has between 40 and 80 mg of caffeine, depending on the type and the brew strength.
From a calorie standpoint, both tea and diet soda enable you to enjoy a flavored beverage with no calories, provided you drink the tea either plain or with a zero-calorie artificial sweetener. Adding 1/8 cup of 2 percent milk and 2 tsp. of sugar to 1 cup of tea adds 47 calories. If you are concerned about the potential health effects of diet sodas, follow your doctor’s recommendation on frequency of consumption. Drink water throughout the day and avoid using either tea or diet soda as your sole source of fluid intake.
- MayoClinic.com; Artificial Sweeteners: Understanding These and Other Sugar Substitutes; October 2010
- Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute; Tea; Jane Higdon; January 2005
- University of North Dakota: Diet Coke Nutrition Facts
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Green Tea; David Zieve; September 2010
- Food and Drug Administration; Medicines in My Home: Caffeine and Your Body; Fall 2007