One of the hardest things for me to give up when I began rejecting additives in my food was Coke. I have yet to find anything which perks up a hangover quite as well as a bottle of Coke and I do like the Coke taste.
Recently I came out of a movie badly in need of a refreshment and headed down the road to the dairy for my usual, saintly, bottle of water.
Instead I found this product which on quick inspection looked like an ideal replacement for sugar laden, caffeined up Coke.
I did buy it with some caution, however, as some attempts to imitate Coke and keep it natural have left me disappointed.
• Carbonated water - This tells us that most of this drink is made up of carbonated (bubbly) water.
• Organic cane sugar - Nice to know the sugar used in here is organic which basically means it is produced without synthetic pesticides and herbicides. So you are not consuming the residues from these chemicals and you are also reducing the pesticide load on the environment by choosing organic.
The label says this cola has 40% less sugar than a standard Phoenix cola which has 36.2g (8.6 teaspoons) of sugar per 330ml. Coke has 39g (9.2 teaspoons) of sugar per 330ml. This product has 21.1g (5 teaspoons) of sugar per 330ml.
• Organic lemon juice concentrate - This will be lemon juice obtained from organically grown lemons which then has the water taken out of it to become a concentrate.
• Natural cola flavouring - Getting that cola flavour isn't easy, especially as Coke has kept it a trade secret for years but attempts to deconstruct it have found that it is mainly made up of vanilla and cinnamon with other tastes such as lime, orange and lemon with spices such as nutmeg and coriander.
So we can reasonably expect these to be in the natural flavour used here.
• Colour Caramel 150d - I'm not very happy that this colouring is used in what is otherwise shaping up to be a very natural drink.
This is a controversial colouring which has nothing to do with caramel but is made out of reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulphites under high pressures and high temperatures.
Some claim that the chemicals caused by this process are carcinogenic.
Others say that you'd have to drink 1000 cans of soft drink containing this colour a day to have any problems. I try to avoid it but it is in a lot of foodstuffs, even malt vinegar.
• Natural sugar cane flavour - I'm not sure why this is in here and if we're using organic sugar cane, should it not be organic as well? I can only think that by reducing the amount of sugar, you need to still believe you are tasting it.
• Natural sweetener (stevia) - This is the star of this drink. Stevia seems too good to be true. A herb native to South America, Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar.
It has been used as a sweetener for centuries in South America, and in Japan it makes up 41 per cent of the sweetener market.
Stevia has no calories and no glycaemic impact, making it suitable for diabetics as well as weight watchers. It is most likely because of this that this drink can be so low in sugar.
You will reduce your sugar intake by drinking this compared to Coke, and you will reduce your calories from 139 calories for 300ml of Coke to 86 calories for 330ml of this drink.
I think that is okay for a sweet, bubbly drink which has a nice cola taste. It's not something you would want to drink a lot of as I would much prefer to see another natural colouring used instead of 150d.
It is also free of phosphoric acid which is in Coke, and that's a good thing as some studies have shown high consumption leads to low bone density.
If, like me, you really love the taste of cola then this might be just the treat drink you need.
• Organic cane sugar and lemon.
• Uses natural sweetener stevia.
• Five teaspoons of sugar compared to 9.2 teaspoons for Coke.
• Uses controversial caramel 150d colouring.