Soft drinks – how bad are they really?

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We all know soft drinks aren’t great for us, but how bad are they really? It may not be as sweet of a deal as you first thought.

What is actually in a soft drink?

Soft drinks are energy dense and nutrient poor, meaning it has very little (if any) nutritional value to the body, however is extremely high in energy. It contains a mixture of carbonated water, flavourings, and sugars or sweeteners, or a mixture of both.

What is it doing to your body?

The regular consumption of soft drinks is linked with tooth erosion, cardiovascular disease, high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and overweight and obesity. A 10-week randomised control trial found an average 1.6 kg increase in body fat of those consuming 1L of soft drink daily, compared to those who consumed water.

How much is too much?

Soft drinks are classified as a discretionary or junk food, meaning that it is not a necessary part of a healthy diet. It is categorised as such due to its high added sugar content, far exceeding the amount of sugar we need in a day. One average 375 mL can of soft drink counts as one discretionary serve and contains 10 teaspoons of added sugar. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends having less that 2 serves of discretionary foods for women and less than 3 serves for men each day, whilst the World Health Organisation recommends limiting added sugars to 5-10 teaspoons per day. So it’s important to be mindful of how much soft drink you’re consuming, as it’s easy to exceed what your body really needs.

Alternatives

The good news is there are some great alternatives available to satisfy your taste buds. Try soda water with some fresh fruit (lemon, berries, orange, kiwifruit) or frozen berries in water and if you simply can’t do without that soft drink, swapping to a diet (sugar free) variety is a better choice.