Think you’re doing your heart a favor by drinking diet instead of regular soda? That may be wishful thinking, according to a research letter published Nov. 3, 2020, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers studied nearly 105,000 people who filled out three 24-hour dietary recall surveys every six months. During a 10-year follow-up, researchers tracked the participants’ cardiovascular health.

Compared with people who drank neither sugary drinks nor artificially sweetened beverages, those who drank higher amounts of either type of beverage had a higher risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular problem.

“High” intake wasn’t even that high: for both sugared and artificially sweetened drinks, the median intake per day was around 6 ounces, or about half a can of soda.

Although researchers accounted for many confounding factors (such as smoking, diabetes, and a family history of heart disease), the findings can’t prove a causal link between either beverage type and heart disease. But they cast doubt on the notion that sugar substitutes are safer for the heart than regular sugar.