Hang on a sec before you reach for that diet soda. For years the rumours around aspartame have swirled. Excitotoxin or energy booster? Blood sugar bungler or freedom from sugar? But a recent study, one of the largest of its kind, found a dangerous connection between aspartame and cardiovascular disease and stroke for healthy, postmenopausal women. Of 60,000 women participating in the study, women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day were 30 percent more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, and 50 percent more likely to die from a related disease. In addition, another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that aspartame is linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukaemia in men. Other studies in the Journal of Applied Nutrition and the U.S. National Library of Medicine have demonstrated deposits of methanol in the brain and antioxidant/pro-oxidant imbalances. Given these frightening stats, what are the alternatives to aspartame? 1. Water. It's what your body needs first and foremost. Drink more! Flavour it with cucumber, citrus, mint. Get creative. Foregoing chemical sodas altogether is the ideal. 2. Tea. Green tea, fruit tea, black tea. The health benefits and flavours available are endless. On a hot summer day, a cold bottle of jasmine tea is far more refreshing and certainly healthier than any soda. Bonus: Oolong tea! In a 2001 study by the US Agriculture Research Services' Diet and Human Laboratory, participants burned an average of 67 more calories per day when drinking full strength oolong tea and increased fat oxidation (fat burning) by 12% after consuming full strength oolong tea versus caffeinated water. How many of you are still addicted to diet drinks?