What is the Healthiest Soda to Drink?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: December 1, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.

A “healthy soda” is an oxymoron, or does one exist? We’ve been told there’s no such thing as a healthy carbonated beverage, so what does this mean?

Don’t take it the wrong way! The vast majority of sodas are bad for you, thanks to the excessive calories, sugar, and chemicals. Yes, we’re looking at you, Coke and Pepsi! 

But contrary to popular belief, there are a handful of healthier soda options. They might not be on the same level as a good ol’ bottle of H2O, but that doesn’t mean they’re downright awful. At the very least, they’re probably not as bad as their competitors. 

Drinking a can of soda doesn’t always have to come with guilt, you know. If you’re wondering which sodas you should buy, read this blog for the 411 on healthy soft drinks! 

Is There a Healthy Soda?

Though sodas aren’t healthy and generally lack nutritional value, some soft drinks are better than others. Of course, these options aren’t nearly as healthy as water, but it doesn’t hurt to consume them now and then. 

Okay, let’s be real: fizzy drinks should not be your best friend if you’re trying to maintain good health. There are plenty of healthier alternatives out there with essential vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, soda isn’t one of them!

We’re sure you’ve heard about the negative effects of soda consumption, but let’s quickly go over them again. For starters, let’s discuss the root of the issue: sugar. This should come as no shocker, but carbonated beverages are loaded with excessive sugar.

Sadly, liquid sugar doesn’t make you feel full, no matter how hard you try. It’s like a scam! You’ll naturally end up drinking more sugar-sweetened beverages to stimulate fullness, which means you’ll end up consuming more calories in the process. We all know what that means: weight gain!

It’s not even the added pounds that are the biggest problem here. Unfortunately, excessive sugar can have a lot of other disastrous effects. For example, studies indicate that a high sugar intake is directly linked to type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Ouch.

Healthy Sodas: Are they a myth?

None of these beverages exactly scream healthy. So do “healthy sodas” even exist?

Well, yes and no. Okay, sodas will never actually have any good health benefits, and that’s just a fact we’ll have to accept. However, a lot of brands in the beverage industry have recently started launching options that are healthier compared to the likes of regular Coke and Pepsi. 

As we discussed, the worst thing about sodas is their ridiculous amount of sugar. On top of that, they’re also full of artificial sweeteners that have terrible effects on the human body. So it’s no wonder all experts shun these beverages. 

However, soda lovers will be happy to know that some fizzy drinks cut down on both. That’s right! That means no sugar and no artificial sweeteners.

Instead, they add natural ingredients for sweetness. On top of that, they bid goodbye to artificial flavors and dyes, including the common carcinogenic chemicals found in popular soft drinks. 

Do these beverages have any nutritional value to their name? No, unfortunately. But are they better than their counterparts? Yes, absolutely! 

Continue reading to find out which sodas we’re talking about. 

Which Soda Has the Least Sugar?

It’s a great question. To be honest, all of the popular sodas in the market today have almost the same amount of sugar, give or take a few grams. However, there are several zero-sugar beverages out there for you to consume.

To start, let’s take a look at the most popular sodas in the United States. According to Newsweek, here are the top 10 best-selling soft drinks in the U.S. in 2021:

  1. Coca-Cola 
  2. Diet Coke
  3. Pepsi
  4. Dr Pepper
  5. Mountain Dew
  6. Sprite 
  7. Fanta 
  8. Sierra Mist and Sunkist

     10.  7-Up

To put things into perspective, here’s the amount of sugar in a 12-ounce can of each of these drinks:

  • Coca-Cola – 39 grams 
  • Diet Coke – 0 grams 
  • Pepsi – 41 grams 
  • Dr Pepper – 39 grams 
  • Mountain Dew – 46 grams 
  • Sprite – 38 grams 
  • Fanta – 43 grams 
  • Sierra Mist – 37 grams
  • Sunkist – 44 grams 
  • 7-Up – 38 grams 

One look at these stats is enough to confirm that America’s top sodas aren’t the poster child for good health. Mountain Dew tops the list with a whopping 46 grams of sugar, but the rest aren’t so far behind, either. Sierra Mist has the least sugar out of the bunch, which we suppose counts for something, but even 37 grams isn’t brag-worthy.

The only exception here is Diet Coke. And you want to know why? The answer’s in the name: diet. In today’s day and age, brands are big on diet and sugar-free sodas. Just like the name suggests, these beverages have zero sugar!

But wait, there’s a catch. Though these drinks don’t contain any sugar, they remain unhealthy because of one evil little component. Continue reading here to learn more about it in the next section. 

Is There a Soda With No Sugar?

You’re in luck! Yes, there are lots of sodas with no sugar. Companies today sell these under the label of “diet or zero sugar.” But unfortunately, these drinks still contain harmful sugar substitutes. 

Diet sodas displayed

If you’re wondering which sugar-free sodas are available for you to consume, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at some of the most popular options:

These are just some of the many options in the market. Since they don’t contain sugar or calories, diet or zero-sugar drinks can seem like a quick and easy way to lose weight and stay healthy. Well, not quite. 

Companies must still figure out how to make these beverages sweet and appealing. So to do that, they throw artificial sweeteners into the mix. And well, let’s just say that nothing about these additives will benefit you. 

It doesn’t hurt to indulge in a little guilty pleasure now and then, so you can try one if you’re just dying of curiosity. Occasional consumption won’t do much harm, and the short-term outcomes aren’t that bad. 

However, in the long run, these beverages can be just as disastrous as the regular ones. So be sure to tone down your consumption just to be safe! The less, the better.

But wait, what’s the difference between diet and zero-sugar drinks? Well, let’s find out. 

Are Zero-Sugar Drinks Better Than Diet Drinks?

Surprise, surprise! “Zero sugar” is just another way of saying “diet.” That’s right! These drinks contain no sugar or calories, but they’re loaded with artificial sweeteners. The sweetener may vary from brand to brand or beverage to beverage, but overall, they’re pretty bad for you. 

I’m betting you didn’t see that one coming, did you? This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the soda world. If they’re marketed and sold as two separate things, you’d think there’d be a major difference. Nope!

As of late, there’s been a shift toward anti-diet culture. Younger generations (we’re looking at you, millennials and Gen Z kids) aren’t fans of diets or the societal standards that encourage them. Companies are beginning to pick up on these trends, which is why they’re replacing “diet” with “zero sugar” instead. Smart.

Let’s take a look at Diet Coke and Coke Zero Sugar. These beverages contain almost the same ingredients and have no nutritional value. The only difference is that Diet Coke uses aspartame as its official sweetener, whereas Coke Zero Sugar uses both aspartame and acesulfame potassium. 

zero coke vs diet

To put it simply, they’re both awful. Studies show that aspartame is linked to negative side effects like headaches and migraines or even more serious health concerns like seizures and cardiovascular disease. Acesulfame potassium isn’t any better, either. Research indicates that this chemical is linked to hormone disruption and cancer. 

Like Coke, other popular brands have their own versions of diet and zero-sugar drinks. And well, they’re also pretty much the same, except for an artificial sweetener or two. The only other difference is the taste, but that’s more of a subjective matter. 

The bottom line is that diet and zero-sugar drinks are bad for you! The chemicals in these additives and artificial ingredients make you crave more calorie-filled foods, which naturally means you’ll gain extra weight. The truth is, you’re being set up for failure. 

And you might think you’re not in grave danger due to the lack of sugar in these drinks, but that is not the case. Instead, these artificial sweeteners can increase your chances of developing diabetes tremendously

On top of that, diet soda can even cause troubling heart problems. According to the American Heart Association, it can increase your chances of having a stroke by a shocking 48%. 

It only gets worse. Excessive consumption of this soda is even associated with decreased bone density, tooth decay, and gut health problems. So the thing you’ve heard your whole life about diet soda being way better than regular soda is nothing but a sugar-coated lie (pun intended).

So which sodas, if any, are even worth purchasing then?

Which Diet Soda is the Healthiest?

As you know, diet sodas aren’t on the healthy side. All of the widely available carbonated beverages are pretty much the same. However, there are some better options out there. The small list includes diet sodas such as Zevia, Virgil’s, and Reed’s!

Okay, we sound like a broken record at this rate, but hey, you need to know about the dangers of consuming artificially sweetened beverages. No matter how many pretty labels Coke, Pepsi, and other popular brands put on their diet sodas, they’re still not going to become healthier magically.

But wait! There’s good news. You’ll be happy to know that some fizzy drinks don’t include artificial sweeteners. So by default, they’re already much better than their counterparts.

First up, we have the Zevia Zero Calorie Soda. What makes this drink special is its use of stevia, a natural sweetener from a plant named Stevia rebaudiana. Studies suggest that this plant exhibits antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Isn’t that amazing?

zevia can

Next in line is Virgil’s Zero Sugar Root Beer. This soda has a lot more to offer than just zero sugar and zero calories. The company combines 15 roots and spices to create a delicious treat with zero artificial sweeteners. Instead, they blend stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit. 

virgils rootbeer soda can

There’s also Reed’s Zero Sugar Real Ginger Ale. It really is real. Reed’s stands out from its competitors by using real ginger juice in the drink. The brand incorporates erythritol, monk fruit, and stevia to add some sweetness. And did we mention it’s also keto-friendly? 

Reeds ginger ale

These drinks still don’t have nutritional value due to the lack of vitamins and minerals. So if you’re looking for serious health benefits, you’re better off finding an alternate beverage.

However, the absence of artificial sweeteners makes these options healthier than commercial sodas like Coca-Cola and Pepsi. So yes, these substitutes may not be perfect, but there’s way worse stuff out there.

Hop over to your nearest grocery store to try them!

Conclusion 

Let’s do a quick recap. Unsurprisingly, most sodas are terrible for you, thanks to excessive calories, sugar, and chemicals. And believe it or not, diet and zero-sugar sodas are also pretty darn bad. We know this isn’t what you’ve been told your whole life, but hey, you learn something new daily! 

The two are loaded with artificial sweeteners that do a lot of damage to your body. And zero-sugar soda is just diet soda but rebranded. 

Are there a couple of natural soft drink options out there? Yes! Do they have any major health benefits? No. Are they worth a try? Sure! Why not?

Soda brands like Zevia, Virgil’s, and Reed’s aren’t exactly Hallmark cards for good health, but they’re better than all artificially sweetened ones. So if you find yourself craving fizzy drinks a little too much and being unable to go cold turkey, these are the best options out there. 

And if you want us to be super honest, there’s still no better hydration option than H2O. At the end of the day, soda is still soda. And water? Water is an undefeated, timeless classic with countless benefits. The ball’s in your court.