24% Of People Thought This Unhealthy Drink Was Actually Healthy

If you're still sipping diet soda as an afternoon pick-me-up and congratulating yourself on making a healthy choice, you're not alone: Nearly a quarter of people surveyed by Health Digest believe that diet soda is a healthy alternative to regular soda. In some ways, they're correct — but most chemical-packed diet sodas are certainly not the best beverages to be sipping on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, most people switch to diet soda when they're hoping to lose weight, but diet soda actually tricks your brain and may even lead to weight gain. "Switching from regular to diet soda may offer a short term cut in calories, but your body won't be fooled for long," Kristin Kirkpatrick, R.D., told the Cleveland Clinic. Research has found that people who switch to diet soda tend to over-consume other calories as a result, and the sweet taste of diet soda may lead to cravings for more sweet foods in general.

Can you still drink diet soda?

If you are a diet soda drinker, don't panic: If you only have one drink per day, that isn't a big deal, especially if it's replacing your typical can of high-sugar soda, and you're paying attention to eating an overall healthy diet. But if you're drinking a lot of it, it might be time to swap a few of your cans of diet soda for water, seltzer, or unsweetened tea or coffee instead (via the Mayo Clinic).

Another common beverage that gets mistaken for a health food is a smoothie. Nearly 29 percent of the 527 people surveyed by Health Digest said that they consider smoothies to be staples of a healthy diet. And yes, some smoothies can be great additions to a daily diet, providing easy servings of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and protein. But many premixed smoothies available at convenience stores or fast food restaurants are packed with refined sugar and other less-than-nutrient-dense ingredients. (Similarly, flavored instant oatmeal was another top pick by surveyors, but while oatmeal itself is certainly a healthy choice, the instant oatmeal that comes in single serve packets tends to contain a huge amount of refined sugars.)