Healthy Soft Drinks an Oxymoron? (cont.)

"If we treated a can of regular soda like a dessert, it would help keep extra calories under control," she says.

The Bottom Line

The experts agree that there is no harm in enjoying a low- or no-calorie soft drink. But they point out that the additives in some of the new sodas -- no matter how healthy sounding -- are either unnecessary or are added in such small quantities that they don't do anything for your health.

Nestle would rather see people choose beverages with nothing artificial added, such as a glass of sparkling water sweetened with real fruit juice.

Her advice: Consume the most natural foods and beverages, and always read the label. Check calories first, followed by sugar calories. Equipped with the facts, you can select the drink that's right for you.

And keep in mind, Johnson says, that soft drinks have no place in the diets of children 11 and under.

"Soft drinks do not belong in young children's diets," says Johnson. "Because they need so many nutrients for growth and development, there is little room for soft drinks unless they are extremely active -- and even then it should only be an occasional treat."

Published May 9, 2007.

SOURCES: Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, New York University; and author, What to Eat. Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition, University of Vermont. Douglass, J., et al, FASEB Journal, 2007: A833.5. Vartanian, L.R., American Journal of Public Health, April 2007; vol 97: pp 667-675. Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD, director of research and school programs, Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. WebMD Medical News: "Soft Drinks Up Calorie Counts."

©2007 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

Last Editorial Review: 5/15/2007