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Softer drinks: natural sodas without the sugar overdose.



Soft drinks can be found almost anywhere in the world, but nowhere are they as ubiquitous as the U.S., where 450 different types are sold and more than 2.5 million vending machines dispense sugar-sweetened beverages around the clock.

The American Beverage Association American Beverage Association is a trade organization that represents the beverage industry in the United States. Its members include producers and bottlers of soft drinks, bottled water, and other non-alcoholic beverages.  says that in 2004, 28 percent of all beverages consumed in the U.S. were carbonated soft drinks. Soda was first introduced to the public more than 200 years ago, and the bubbly drink was an instant hit.

The ability to store soft drinks for long periods of time began in earnest in 1892, with the invention of the crown cap. Home consumption then began to take off, and soda companies began to transport their products around the country.

Not Health Food

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA USDA,
n.pr See United States Department of Agriculture.
) generally advises a 2,000 calorie-a-day limit and no more than 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar a day. Despite this recommendation, between 1994 and 1996 Americans were averaging about 20.5 teaspoons a day, the equivalent of 68.5 pounds of sugar a year.

Over the past 16 years, the amount of sugar in American diets has increased by 28 percent, with about a third of it coming from soft drinks. A single 12-ounce can of soda contains around 13 teaspoons of sugar, usually in the form of high-fructose corn syrup High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is any of a group of corn syrups that have undergone enzymatic processing in order to increase their fructose content and are then mixed with pure corn syrup (100% glucose) to reach their final form.  (HFCS HFCs: see chlorofluorocarbons. ). HFCS is sweeter than refined sugar and costs less, which helped gain it 55 percent of the sweetener Sweetener

A special feature added to a debt obligation or preferred stock to promote marketability.

Notes:
Warrants and convertibles are two popular sweeteners.
See also: Convertible Bond, Kicker, Warrant



Sweetener
 market.

Some nutritionists feel that high-fructose corn syrup fails to suppress hunger feelings, leading to increased weight gain (see "Sugar or Sweetener?" Your Health, March/April 2006). Currently, 64.5 percent of adults over the age of 20 are overweight, 30.5 percent are obese and 4.7 percent are severely obese.

Dr. Sonia Caprio, a professor of pediatric endocrinology at Yale University, confirms that consumption of high-caloric beverages leads to higher rates of obesity. All sugars that rapidly metabolize me·tab·o·lize
v.
1. To subject to metabolism.

2. To produce by metabolism.

3. To undergo change by metabolism.



metabolize

to subject to or be transformed by metabolism.
 are considered the worst culprits, she says, including fructose fructose (frŭk`tōs), levulose (lĕv`yəlōs'), or fruit sugar, simple sugar found in honey and in the fruit and other parts of plants.  and glucose. "The reality is that there is epidemiological work done in children as well as adults that links obesity and Type 2 diabetes type 2 diabetes
n.
See diabetes mellitus.
 with the consumption of sodas," says Caprio.

Diet Alternatives

Diet sodas use artificial sweeteners because they add little or no calories to the beverage. The American Beverage Association says that diet soft drinks have grown from 25.9 percent of the market in 1998 to 28.6 percent in 2005. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA FDA
abbr.
Food and Drug Administration


FDA,
n.pr See Food and Drug Administration.

FDA,
n.pr the abbreviation for the Food and Drug Administration.
) has approved four sugar substitutes for use in foods and beverages, one of which is aspartame--embroiled in controversy for more than 20 years. Aspartame aspartame: see sweetener, artificial.
aspartame

Synthetic organic compound (a dipeptide) of phenylalanine and aspartic acid. It is 150–200 times as sweet as cane sugar and is used as a nonnutritive tabletop sweetener and in low-calorie
 tastes 200 times sweeter than sucrose but has none of the calories.

For the past 15 years, benzene has been found in soft drinks at levels higher than the legal limit. The Environmental Working Group cites FDA data showing that 19 of 24 samples of diet soda showed contamination levels of the chemical. Some samples held as many as four times the tap-water limit. Benzene, formed by a reaction of two common soft drink additives, sodium benzoate sodium benzoate or benzoate of soda, chemical compound, C6H5CO2Na, colorless or white crystalline, aromatic compound; the sodium salt of benzoic acid.  (a preservative preservative

Any of numerous chemical additives used to prevent or slow food spoilage caused by chemical changes (e.g., oxidation, mold growth) and maintain a fresh appearance and consistency. Antimycotics (e.g.
) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C vitamin C
 or ascorbic acid

Water-soluble organic compound important in animal metabolism. Most animals produce it in their bodies, but humans, other primates, and guinea pigs need it in the diet to prevent scurvy.
), is considered a carcinogen carcinogen: see cancer.
carcinogen

Agent that can cause cancer. Exposure to one or more carcinogens, including certain chemicals, radiation, and certain viruses, can initiate cancer under conditions not completely understood.
 and has been directly linked to leukemia and other cancers. This combination remains in several soft drinks, especially those featuring fruit juice or drinks fortified fortified (fôrt´fīd),
adj containing additives more potent than the principal ingredient.
 with vitamin C.

Natural Sodas

Natural sodas are meeting the growing market for soft drinks with reduced refined sugar content, offering many people a transition from or alternative to the mainstream drinks many of us have grown up on. Many parents, in particular, find they can placate kids hollering for soda by giving them a healthier alternative.

Cane juice is often used as an alternative soda sweetener because it is relatively unprocessed and retains a larger number of the nutrients found in sugar cane. Fructose is naturally found in fruits, so added sweeteners aren't needed for some beverages that come from real fruit. Also, flavors are much more authentic than the soft drinks that most people are used to because real juices and natural ingredients are used.

Steaz Green Tea Soda is slightly less carbonated than traditional soft drinks but is very flavorful. The eight regular and three diet flavors are sweetened sweet·en  
v. sweet·ened, sweet·en·ing, sweet·ens

v.tr.
1. To make sweet or sweeter by adding sugar, honey, saccharin, or another sweet substance.

2. To make more pleasant or agreeable.
 using organic evaporated cane juice. All Steaz beverages are certified USDA organic and contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.

R.W. Knudsen fruit spritzer drinks contain only sparkling water and natural flavors and juices. Refreshingly tangy, these carbonated juice beverages are offered in 16 different flavors. Knudsen also offers five flavors five flavors,
n in the dietary component of Chinese medicine, the five basic tastes into which foods are divided, each of which has different physiologic actions.
 of light spritzers that contain "lo han" extract, a Chinese fruit that is a natural sweetener. All of Knudsen's products are free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and added sugars.

Izze offers beverages that are more heavily juice based and less carbonated. Every bottle of Izze is said to be equal to a serving of fruit, so they maybe an option for youngsters who turn up their noses at the genuine article. The beverages come in seven tasty flavors and contain 100 percent pure fruit juice and sparkling water. Izze is naturally sweet and has no refined sugar or caffeine.

Santa Cruz Organic sodas are all made with organic ingredients and are sweetened using organic evaporated cane juice. The sodas come in 10 flavors, which taste like fresh fruit juice with light carbonation. Santa Cruz Organic uses 100 percent renewable energy to run its processing and bottling facilities.

WaNu beverages (owned by Vermont Base Waters) start with the company's own purified water. The natural sodas come in seven flavors and are also sweetened using organic evaporated cane juice, with natural flavors and coloring. WaNu's drinks tend to taste just like mainstream sodas, only slightly less carbonated (except for the maple cream flavor, which is a New England original). The company also offers sparkling water drinks, which come in six flavors and contain many of the same ingredients as the sodas.

Reed's beverages are modeled after traditional homemade drinks that predate the bottling era. The sodas use as a guide Jamaican ginger beer, which is far less sweet with more "bite" than modern ginger ale. There are six flavors of Reed's Brew and all of them contain sparkling filtered water, fresh ginger root and juices and spices for flavor. Five of the company's offerings contain fructose.

Blue Sky Soda makes organic sodas and seltzer-style sparkling waters. The all-natural sodas come in 13 flavors and do contain some form of fructose or fructose corn sweetener. The sodas, in six different flavors, are sweetened with cane juice and are certified organic by Quality Assurance International. The natural seltzers contain only carbonated triple-filtered water and natural flavoring, in lemon or lime. CONTACT: American Beverage Association, (202) 463-6732, www.ameribev.org; Blue Sky, www.blueskysoda.com; Izze, www. izze.com; R.W. Knudsen, www.knudsenjuices.com; Reed's, www.reedsgingerbrew. com; Santa Cruz Organic, www.scojuice. com; Steaz Green Tea Soda, www.steaz. com; WaNu, www.vtsoda.com.

ERIN COUGHLIN is an E intern and natural soda fan.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Earth Action Network, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, American Beverage Association
Author:Coughlin, Erin
Publication:E
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:1173
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