Generally speaking, most types of soda are considered unhealthy because of their high sugar content. However, many big beverage corporations are developing lower-calorie options that offer a healthier alternative to traditional sodas. Are these new drinks that much better keep reading to find out.
Though healthier than traditional Coke in the sense that it has no sugar, there are some health concerns associated with Coke Zero.
Coke Zero contains artificial sweeteners, which may pose some health risks, including an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, or death.
The ingredients in Coke Zero have been linked to a potentially increased risk of bone density loss, kidney problems, diabetes, and tooth decay.
Coke Zero contains caffeine which has addictive properties, making it hard to stop drinking it when consumed regularly.
What is Coke Zero?
Coke Zero is the lighter version of traditional Coca-Cola, boasting zero sugar content. However, it claims to taste the same as traditional Coke — but with fewer calories because of the decreased amount of sugar.
For example, Coke Zero contains zero calories and zero sugar, whereas a can of traditional Coke has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. Coke Zero is available in several different flavors and options, including caffeine-free, cherry, vanilla, and cherry-vanilla.
Is Coke Zero a good alternative to regular Coke?
According to the American Heart Association, daily sugar intake should not exceed 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women — one can of traditional Coke far exceeds these recommendations. Based on these findings, it is fair to conclude that Coke Zero is an acceptable substitute for traditional Coke. However, just because it offers a lower-calorie option, it does not necessarily make it healthy.
Is Coke Zero healthy?
Though healthier than traditional Coke in the sense that it has no sugar, Coke Zero is associated with some health concerns.
Artificial sweeteners are added to Coke Zero, including aspartame and acesulfame potassium, to get that same Coke taste without sugar. Historically, there has been some concern that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners increase the risk of developing cancer, but that has since been proven false. However, these sweeteners can pose other health risks, such as stroke, heart disease, and death, if consumed on a daily long-term basis.
Phosphoric acid is an FDA-approved ingredient in Coke Zero and can also be found in other processed foods and drinks. It increases shelf life and adds flavor to sodas. Though a common ingredient in many beverages, some older studies have shown an increased risk of bone density loss and kidney problems.
In theory, the zero-sugar content seems like a good option for individuals with (or at risk for) diabetes, but that may not be the case. Though research is limited and, at times, conflicting, a few studies have linked the consumption of artificially sweetened beverages with the development of diabetes. Those with the condition or those at risk for developing diabetes should consider other beverages that contain no sugar or artificial sweeteners, just in case.
The acidity of Coke Zero (and most other sodas as well) negatively affects teeth over time. For example, the acids wear down the enamel, making consumers more prone to cavities and other dental issues. Additionally, teeth stain easier when the enamel wears down, resulting in undesired cosmetic effects and a higher risk of cavities. Furthermore, because Coke Zero is artificially colored a dark brown, it is safe to assume that over time, teeth may acquire a similar hue, especially if consuming soda regularly.
As with any caffeinated beverage, there is a risk of addiction associated with drinking Coke Zero regularly. Caffeine acts as a stimulant, speeding up metabolism and boosting energy. The higher one's caffeine consumption, the more they feel they need it daily — or more often. Though some caffeine in moderation can be healthy, the more that is consumed regularly, the higher the risk of addiction and potential withdrawal symptoms if or when quitting caffeine. Withdrawal symptoms are very unpleasant and include headaches, irritability, and fatigue.
Ultimately, Coke Zero offers no dietary nutritional benefits. However, Coke Zero is a healthier option for someone switching from regular soda. Consuming healthier beverages, especially water, regularly in place of soda is ideal, but indulging occasionally is typically acceptable.