Sugar Free Soda AlternativeApril 2, 2010 Written by JP [Font too small?]
I was listening recently to an interview with Dr. Richard Bernstein that was conducted by David Edelman of Diabetes Today. During the course of the interview David posed a few specific questions that I genuinely wanted to know the answers to: “What did you have for breakfast and for lunch?”. These aren’t exactly hard hitting inquiries or the kind of material that is likely to convert anyone to Dr. Bernstein’s philosophy for controlling blood sugar. But it does offer an intriguing glimpse into how a seasoned expert applies his own recommendations to his daily life. After all, isn’t that what we’d all like to know? How do we take the concepts and guidelines presented in books, magazines and websites, and incorporate them into our regular routines? One way to accomplish this is to replace damaging diet elements with healthier options.
Sodas are among the most insidious components of the modern day diet. This is largely because once you’re hooked on soda, you tend to stay that way. The most recent investigations involving beverage consumption suggest that regular soda use goes hand in hand with poor overall diet quality. In practical terms this means a lower intake of calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, protein and not surprisingly a higher intake of added sugars. The result of this un-natural shift in dietary composition appears to result in a wide variety of ills including cardiovascular, kidney, liver disease and obesity. (1,2,3,4,5)
This is where my pragmatic side comes into play. I could just advise you all to avoid anything that remotely resembles soda. But I could only do that if I actually followed that same advice. Lately I’ve found a few natural options to soda that provide a little added fun to my diet while at the same time contributing something of value. Perhaps most importantly, I can drink these natural soda alternatives with a clear conscience because I know they’re not contributing to my demise.
A case in point is a new sparkling green tea drink by Steaz. At this very moment there’s a bottle of Steaz Zero Calorie Orange Sparkling Green Tea in my refrigerator just waiting for me get thirsty. Here’s a look at the ingredient list:
- Steaz Zero Calorie Orange Sparkling Green Tea – Sparkling filtered water, organic erythritol (natural sweetener), beta carotene (pro-Vitamin A), organic flavor (brewed organic Fair Trade Certified Ceylon green tea, water, organic flavor), citric acid, sodium citrate, Rebiana (stevia extract – natural sweetener), Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin).
This about as pure an ingredient list as you can hope to find in a commercial product. The label claims that each 12 ounce glass bottle also boasts an impressive 120 mg of green tea derived antioxidants. But it’s not just what this beverage contains that caught my eye. What’s equally important is what it omits. A prime example is what they use to give this “orange soda” it’s distinctive color. Most conventional soda pops would opt for artificial colorants. The makers of Steaz, The Healthy Beverage Company, use the antioxidant beta carotene instead – the same substance that gives carrots their distinctive hue. This simple swap of ingredients may promote improved cardiovascular health by protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and, thereby, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). (6)
The scientific literature provides a seemingly consistent flow of promising information about the health benefits of green tea. The fact that green tea is the base of this bubbly elixir bodes well for anyone who drinks it. The latest research about green tea and its chemical components suggest that it may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, lower arthritis inflammation and protect against liver damage caused by oxidative stress. (7,8,9)
Even the relatively small dosages of B-vitamins contained in Steaz Zero Calorie may tip the scale in favor of improved wellness. A recent meta-analysis of 13 studies determined that men and women with higher levels of Vitamin B6 demonstrated a significantly lower incidence (-20%) of colorectal cancer. The Swedish authors of the review note that these findings may be because of the “nearly 100 enzymatic reactions” associated with Vitamin B6 that “may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer”. (10)
It’s also important to note that even small (physiological) doses of B12, such as those contained in Steaz Zero Calorie, seem to provoke substantive changes in the body. This is evidenced in a current study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition which found that dosages as low as 2 mcg of Vitamin B12 can effectively lower homocysteine levels – a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease and beyond. The same goes with folic acid. It’s an essential nutrient that’s only required in small quantities. However new reports indicate that as few as 24% of women of childbearing age get enough of this vital nutrient which can protect against neural tube defects. (11,12)
I’m not suggesting that you necessarily use products such as Steaz Zero Calorie as a nutritional supplement. My position is that you stick with the basics: get the preponderance of your nutrients from whole foods and fortify any additional requirements with the judicious use of nutritional supplements. But if you’d enjoy having a mildly sweet, sparkling drink every now and again, I think you’d do well choosing something like the beverage I’ve highlighted today. Remember that a holistic approach to health doesn’t have to be dogmatic or devoid of pleasure. It’s important to find ways to nourish both your body and mind. In my experience, experimenting with new products such as this can accomplish this joint objective. In closing I want to pass along a near perfect description that my wife used in reference to this drink. She mentioned that it wasn’t cloyingly sweet like many other “diet” sodas, but rather tastes more like “a soda for adults”. That pretty much says it all. The only thing I would add is that it’s perfectly fine for children too.
Tags: B Vitamins, Dental Health, Green Tea
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Product Reviews