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National News

June 7, 2012

Regular soda, diet soda, zero-calorie soda: What's really safe?

(Continued)

Many of the zero calorie beverages not only contain the aspartame ingredient, but also have an additive called Acesulfame Potassium, which is another artificial sweetener that could create even more health risks.

In lab tests, scientists have found the sugary additive potentially increased  the risk of cancer as well as insulin production levels in test animals.

Experts say Acesulfame Potassium is less risky than aspartame, but more research still needs to be done on both additives. The problem with zero calorie sodas, experts say, is they typically contain both artificial sweeteners, and each comes with its own potential health risk, not to mention possible weight gain.

But not always...

But just as certain beverages can be the catalyst in weight gain and cause serious ailments, certain drinks can do the opposite, and thrust an individual into a healthier lifestyle.

"Some drinks have tremendous health benefits, from relieving minor ailments like indigestion to protecting against serious ones like osteoporosis," says Dan Nadeau, M.D., medical director of Exeter Hospital's HealthReach Diabetes, Endocrinology and Nutrition Center in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Besides water, here are some of the healthier drinks that experts say should be replacing your soda or sugary beverage intake:

Green Tea: Helps reduce risk of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and cavities. It also holds a natural antioxidant that can protect cells from receiving cancer-causing substances. Green tea can also lower the risk of heart disease, blood clots, and strokes.

Cranberry Juice: Prevents gum disease, urinary tract infection, and eliminates bacteria from the teeth and gums while eating. But doctors say to be mindful of your intake, as certain juices contain high levels of sugar. "Make sure the label says 100 percent juice, not 'juice drink' or 'cocktail,'" says Heidi Reichenberger, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

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