It's well known that sugary beverages aren't healthy. But that hasn't held us back from drinking them.
The USA ranked second in soft drinks consumption in 2019 according to Statista, with Coca-Cola being the most had carbonated beverage. In fact, Americans drink 399 servings of Coke products every year, 63% of those being Coca-Cola Classic.
How is this luscious beverage affecting our health?
To understand that, we have to look into the ingredients of Coca-Cola Classic.
Ingredients in Coca-Cola Classic
As you can see in the image above, Coca-Cola has carbonated water, added sugar, caramel 150d, phosphorous acid, flavor, and caffeine. A few of these ingredients have been popularly associated with health degeneration. But for clarity, let's investigate the ingredients in detail.
Added sugar has the potential to harm our bodies severely. Its overconsumption can cause obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions no one likes having in life. In an attempt to guide people to stay healthy, the American Heart Association advised limits for its intake.
According to them:
- Men can have 37.5 grams or nine teaspoons of sugar.
- Women and children (between 2 and 18) can consume 25 grams or six teaspoons of sugar.
How much sugar does Coke have?
A can of Coca-Cola (355ml) has an alarming amount of added sugar - 37 grams!
This means that a man who is having anything more than a can of Coke in a day is having too much sugar. Whereas, a woman or child is already exceeding the limit when they consume a can.
Caramel is a compound made by subjecting food-grade carbohydrates to controlled heat treatment with or without food-grade reactants. These can be classified into four depending on the reactant used to make them. They are E150a, E150b, E150 c, and E150d.
Coke's constituent, the fourth type (E150d), is made using sulfite and ammonia reactants. These reactants were earlier proven to cause cancer in mice.
Therefore, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) has set an ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) of 300mg/ kg BW/ day for this class of caramel color.
Unfortunately, we don't know the amount of caramel in Coke because it isn't mentioned in the can.
Studies conducted so far haven't been able to prove that any of the caramel colors are carcinogenic in humans. However, there are claims that methyl imidazole, a carcinogen, is produced during its manufacturing.
Caffeine needs no introduction. We are familiar with caffeine through coffee, tea, and other refreshments.
Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, muscle breakdown, digestive issues, and addiction. So, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) cited that a healthy adult can have up to 400 mg of caffeine per day.
A 355 ml can of Coke has only 34 mg of caffeine - which is way below the recommended limit.
To exceed the caffeine limit, you will have to drink more than 10 cans of Coke a day - which is unlikely. Therefore, a normal person having no more than a couple of Coke cans shouldn't be worried about caffeine overdose.
Food acid (338) or Phosphoric Acid
Phosphoric acid gives Coke a tangy taste and prevents the growth of bacteria and molds. This compound breaks down to produce phosphorous once ingested and reacts with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth.
But having more phosphorus can lead to osteoporosis and heart disease. Phosphorus abundance can also decrease the calcium content in the body, negatively affecting bones.
The FDA reported that an adult who consumes more than 4000 mg of the compound daily is susceptible to the aforementioned issues. Adults with kidney issues should have between 800 to 1,000 mg of phosphorus a day.
A 355 ml Coke has between 178 to 249 mg of phosphoric acid.
The phosphorus acid intake will only exceed the maximum limit if you have more than 16 cans of Coke in a day. So, you don't have to worry about having too much phosphorus acid when you drink a can.
Healthy Substitutes for Coke
The main substitutes for Coke are iced tea, sparkling water, and juice. If you crave the caffeine of Coke, try iced tea; for the carbonated feel, you can have flavored or plain sparkling water. And fruit juice may suffice if you miss Coke's sweetness.
What Happens to Your Body When You Have Coke
1. You may gain weight due to the high sugar intake.
2. You may notice moderate to severe acne.
3. Coke may stain your teeth and cause dental erosion.
It's disheartening that Coke consumption could be harmful. Luckily, you can have Coke and stay healthy!
Try not to drink a lot of Coke or any other sugary soda. By controlling drinking Coke, you can limit the amount of dangerous chemicals you ingest and still savor its taste.
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