Let's face it: There's nothing "diet" about diet soda. It won't make you healthier and it won't even help you to lose weight -- and that's been proven.

But the bad news doesn't end there. In fact, that's just the beginning.

Diet soda has been linked to a host of frightening health risks, and a new study confirms two of the worst: People who load up on these supposedly healthy sugar-free drinks have a dramatically higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.

Researchers tracked 2,564 New York City seniors for a decade and found that 31 percent of those who drank diet soda every day suffered a heart attack or stroke versus 22 percent of those drank little to no diet soda.

That's an increase in risk of 49 percent, according to the data published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The study doesn't directly prove that diet soda is responsible -- and, in some cases, it could simply be that diet soda drinkers have worse habits.

We all know people who eat tons of junk and then always wash it down with a Diet Coke, right?

But there's more going on here. Diet sodas contain an ingredient that's been linked to more side effects than just about any other food additive: the artificial sweetener aspartame.

Aspartame has been linked to high blood pressure, heart palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, sleep disorders and more. Stroke and heart attack would just be the icing on the (sugar-free) cake.

Of course, that's not a license to drink regular soda, either, and that goes for drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup as well as the ones that scream "MADE WITH REAL SUGAR!" (as if that's somehow a badge of honor).

All that sugar in any form is a ticket to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

Sweeteners aren't the only lousy ingredients hidden in a can of soda either. The coloring agents in many have been linked to cancer, the preservatives can cause cell damage and many even have phosphates, which can deprive your bones of calcium and put you at risk for osteoporosis.

And to top it off -- as if all that's not enough -- soda is generally served in containers lined with BPA, the hormone-like chemical linked to obesity, diabetes, early menopause, sexual dysfunction, heart disease, and more.

Forget soda in all its forms. If you have to have some fizz, switch to plain old seltzer.