Which kind of cola is best?

We have them all – light, diet, straight-up, and now Life (the one with the green label) is on its way subtitles for Monster's Eye! But which one is better for you?

Here’s the break-down:

  • Traditional cola contains sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours and colours made from chemicals, and gas to fizz it all up.
  • The diet and light versions contain all the same ingredients except for the sugar and some of the syrup. Instead, they use an artificial sweetener call aspartame for taste.
  • Now, green-labelled Life is about to hit our shelves. The claims are that it’s more natural, and so better for you. Instead of sugar, high fructose syrup or aspartame to sweeten the drink, Life uses less sugar, and adds a sugar substitute called stevia.

What is stevia?

The sweetener stevia comes from the plant Stevia rebaudiana. It has been used raw for more than a 1000 years by the Guaraní people of South America, but the stevia used as a sweetener is highly processed.

To get us to all the sweetness, the plant extract is refined using ethanol, methanol, crystallization and then separation processes. While it’s being marketed as a natural product, you can see that the stevia in your drink is a very different thing to the leaves on a plant!

Does this mean I shouldn’t drink it?

Well, we still say that you should stick to diluted fruit-juice, teas and water. All colas have problems: Either they contain sugar, or chemical sweeteners. Don’t let the green labels fool you. If you’re looking for a natural alternative to the normal sweet or diet fizzy drinks, just read what’s in it before you pop the tab. Like with most foods – even processed ones – the secret is not eating or drinking any given thing all the time.

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Artificial sweeteners, fake signals

Evidence shows that using sugar substitutes too often can put you at higher risk for the following:

  • weight gain
  • metabolic syndrome
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease

How can that be? To put it simply: while you can fool your taste-buds, your body just isn’t buying it. Eat something with artificial sweetener and your taste-buds think: “Sweet!” This signals the start of a process and now your digestive system gets ready to deal with actual nutrients. Instead, what arrives is a no-calorie chemical! You can imagine that having this happen over and over in any given day just isn’t good for you.

So, make a glass of water, juice with lots of ice, or a cup of lemon or herbal tea your first choice when you need to quench your thirst.