Guilt-free fizz: Are healthy sodas worth it?

Since 2010, Americans have reduced their soda intake every year, according to Statista. The average annual amount of soda a person consumed in 2018 was 38.78 gallons compared to 45.5 gallons in 2010.

Soda has no valuable nutrients, so it has no nutritional benefits, said Kelly Kennedy, nutritionist for Everyday Health. People continue to drink soda despite the negative health implications for several reasons.

Soda consumption has many impactful health risks. According to UCLA Health, sugary drinks like soda are linked to a long list of adverse health effects, starting with obesity, poor blood sugar control and diabetes. Recent studies have found associations with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

Emphasizing that, just one juice per day measurably increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Soda is heavily marketed and culturally ingrained as the common drink of choice for meals, celebrations and refreshments, making it an uncertain habit for many. The convenience factor also contributes to addiction, as soda is readily available and often cheaper than healthier drinks.

What are the healthiest sodas?

Getting rid of soda completely and sticking to water is obviously not a realistic solution, but switching to a healthier juice alternative can be. For those who find it difficult to completely eliminate soda from their diet, these sodas provide a healthier alternative while still curbing soda cravings:

1. Olipop

Although Olipop is a processed soda product, it contains prebiotics, fiber and botanical extracts designed to support gut health, according to Clean Eating Kitchen. Compared to some of the better known and larger brands of carbonated drinks, Olipop has less sugar and natural ingredients.

If you like the fizzy taste of soda, opting for Olipop is a wiser health decision. One can contains 2 to 5 grams of sugar and 45 calories.

According to the Olipop website, the only Olipop flavors that currently contain caffeine are Vintage Cola, Cherry Cola and Dr. Goodwin, they’ve run out of caffeine. The caffeine in these three flavors consists of 50 milligrams of caffeine derived from green tea extract.

Joanne Slavin, a professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota and a member of Ollipops’ scientific advisory board, told The Washington Post that the carbonated fiber content alone makes it drinkable.

I’ve been telling people to eat more fiber. And overall, fiber intake hasn’t budged at all in more than 40 years, Slavin said.

But Olipop drinker Adrianna McCoy added that because of the high fiber content she wouldn’t recommend more than one can a day, Olipop is just a much more fun way to consume fiber than taking fiber vitamins or drinking Metamucil. … (But) I wouldn’t want another Olipop. I feel like that’s a recipe for disaster.

2. Poppy

Another prebiotic soda that has become popular is Poppy. Only two of Poppis nine flavors, Classic Cola and Doc Pop, contain caffeine, with just 32 milligrams of caffeine in each can from green tea extract.

Amy Shapiro, registered dietitian and founder of Real Nutrition NIC, told Health that while alternative sodas are a healthier alternative to regular sodas, their benefits are still overstated.

Shapiro said that while one of Poppis’ main ingredients, apple cider vinegar, has no evidence to show that it improves gut health, it may help lower blood sugar levels, prevent heartburn and provide antioxidants.

Adding that drinking Poppy cannot replace a healthy diet, if our diet is generally full of sugar, oil, fat and processed foods and lacks fiber, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, protein and healthy fats, then just add one item it may not be a life-saving or rescue device.

The presence of additional health-oriented ingredients and reduced sugar make these sodas a better choice for those who want to reduce their sugar intake and avoid artificial additives while still enjoying a sweet, fizzy drink.

However, while they are a healthier choice than traditional sodas, health advocates say they should still be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

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