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Is Coke Zero Bad For You?

While Coke Zero contains zero calories and sugar, as the name implies, is Coke Zero healthy? Or is Coke Zero bad for you? Let’s dive in.

Key Takeaways

  • Coke Zero is a sugar-free and calorie-free version of Coca-Cola, sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium.
  • While Coke Zero may be a better choice than sugary drinks for weight management and blood sugar control, it contains no nutrients and may negatively impact gut health and increase the risk of osteoporosis.
  • In moderation, Coke Zero can be part of a healthy diet, but those with certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, may want to avoid it.

Coca-Cola has been a staple beverage for generations of Americans. Despite the villainization of sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages, Coca-Cola prevails by releasing its widely popular Coke Zero, a diet version that tastes remarkably similar to regular Coke.

What Is Coke Zero? 

Coca-Cola is an American beverage Icon that’s graced our taste buds for the past 138 years. Originally invented in 1886 by Dr. John Pemberton has since created a multinational beverage corporation that is said to offer over 3,500 beverages from over 500 brands in over 200 countries across the globe. (Source)(Source)

Coca-Cola Zero (Coke Zero) is a diet version of the beloved Coca-Cola. Because the original product contains high amounts of added sugars and calories per serving, market demands required a pivot in a new direction by the consumers.

This led to the creation of Diet Coke which was formulated with the artificial sweetener aspartame to cut out calories and added sugars. However, Diet Coke didn’t have the same flavor as regular Coca-Cola.

Coke Zero was released in 2005 as a new product that contains zero sugar and zero calories but with the same great taste as regular Coke. Coca-Cola uses a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) to sweeten without sugar or calories but many consumers agree the taste is a lot better than Diet Coke.

However, some feel this product could cause health concerns among the population but is there actually research to support this? The danger of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar might be lurking in it’s ingredients list. Let’s take a deeper look.

Pros And Cons Of Coke Zero

Coke Zero Can

As with many highly processed food and beverage products, Coke Zero has pros and cons that should be weighed, especially if you find yourself wondering “How bad is Coke Zero for you?” Let’s get into it.

Pros

Below are some of the pros of choosing Coke Zero over other beverages:

  • Zero-calorie beverages like Coke Zero, can help avoid weight gain due to increased calorie intake
  • Coke Zero contains zero added sugar which can help support blood sugar management in those with type 2 diabetes
  • The taste of Coke Zero is comparatively better than other similar diet sodas and provides a level of nostalgia for older adults without guilt

Cons

Below are some of the cons of choosing Coke Zero over other beverages:

  • Coke Zero may not contain calories or added sugars but it also holds no nutritional value.
  • Coke Zero utilizes artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, which the research on potential health benefits and implications are conflicting, particularly regarding weight
  • The ingredients in Coke Zero and other diet soda products can cause tooth erosion over time (Source)(Source)
  • Artificial sweeteners, such as those used in Coke Zero, may cause negative health impacts on our gut microbiome (Source)(Source)
  • Coke Zero and other diet cola beverages may also increase the risk for osteoporosis (Source)

Despite the pros and cons mentioned above, Coke Zero, and other diet or non-diet sodas can be enjoyed in moderation as a part of a healthy diet.

Coke Zero Nutrition Facts

To further understand what you are getting the next time you grab a Coke Zero, below are the nutrition facts and ingredients for this popular beverage. (Source)

Serving size: 1 can (12 ounces)

Coke Zero Calories: 0

Total fat: 0g

Sodium: 40mg

Total carbohydrates: 0g

Total sugar: 0g

Added sugar: 0g

Protein: 0g

Potassium: 60mg 

Coke Zero Ingredients

Below are the ingredients in Coke Zero listed from most to least and their function. (Source)

  • Carbonated water: The main ingredient in Coke Zero is carbonated water to give the product that bubbly and crisp consistency. There are no health concerns about consuming carbonated water in fact, some studies have found it may help boost satiety. (Source
  • Caramel color: Caramel color is a water-soluble food coloring to give Coke Zero its famous cola color. Some animal studies have found potential cancer-promoting properties of caramel coloring when produced with ammonia. This is because of the byproducts 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole however, in 2013 Coca-Cola announced they reduced the levels of these contaminants in their products. (Source)
  • Phosphoric acid: Phosphoric acid is a food product added commonly to soft drinks like Coke Zero to create a tart, acidic flavor and increase shelf life. Phosphoric acid contributes to your body’s total phosphorus levels. Although this is an essential mineral, many get more than enough through diet. Too much phosphorus may increase the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. (Source)(Source)
  • Aspartame: Aspartame is a calorie and sugar-free artificial sweetener developed to replace sucrose (table sugar) in food and beverage products. It is 180-200 times sweeter than regular sugar but its safety continues to be questioned. Aspartame has been linked to several health concerns including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer, and more. Current literature suggests aspartame is safe in small amounts however, further research is needed to better understand the potential health implications of long-term use of this product. (Source)
  • Potassium benzoate: Potassium benzoate is a food preservative that is considered safe by the FDA however, some potential side effects have been reported. Food and beverage products that contain this compound along with vitamin C (ascorbic acid) could form the chemical benzene if exposed to heat. Benzene can cause allergic reactions in some. A few small studies have linked children exposed to benzene to a higher risk of developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but more studies on this are needed. (Source)(Source)
  • Natural flavors: While this can seem vague on food and beverage labels, “natural flavors” are defined by the FDA as a product that is derived from a natural source. This could be a fruit, vegetable, or animal. These foods are not a concern for health risks however, reactions are possible as these ingredients will vary and are not openly labeled. (Source)
  • Potassium Citrate: Potassium citrate is a food preservative like potassium benzoate which regulates the acid content of food and beverages. While it is not known to have any negative health effects, it does raise potassium levels in the blood. Those with kidney disease or who have been told to limit their potassium intake should limit their consumption of foods and beverages that contain potassium citrate. It may also increase the risk of developing kidney stones. (Source).
  • Acesulfame potassium: Also known as Ace K, acesulfame potassium is a commonly used artificial sweetener in food and beverage products. Some animal research studies suggest this sweetener may alter the gut microbiome and increase the risk for obesity. Other studies suggest it could potentially increase the risk of cancer but there are not enough studies available to support these findings. (Source)(Source)
  • Caffeine: Coke Zero contains about 34 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce can which is roughly a third of the amount found in a standard cup of black coffee. Caffeine is not associated with adverse health effects unless consumed in excess (over 400mg per day). Those who are sensitive to caffeine or those who are pregnant may wish to limit or avoid caffeinated beverages such as Coke Zero. Caffeine can reduce appetite and high consumption can lead to a disruption in food intake in some individuals. (Source)

Does Coke Zero Have Aspartame?

As mentioned above, Coke Zero contains the artificial sweetener aspartame in its ingredients list. Aspartame along with Acesulfame potassium are used to create the unique flavor of Coke Zero that is more in line with their original Coca-Cola product without all the added sugar and calories.

Does Coke Zero Have Caffeine?

Coke Zero, as with many dark colas, contains a small portion of caffeine comparable to a cup of tea. One 12-ounce can of Coke Zero contains about 34mg, which is about a third of what you would get from a typical cup of Joe.

While caffeine is not considered an unhealthy ingredient, it can impact sleep if consumed late in the day and consumers should take note of this before enjoying it.

Is Coke Zero healthy?

So, is Coke Zero bad?

Whether or not Coke Zero is considered healthy is really dependent upon the level of consumption and the health of the person enjoying it. For example, for an otherwise healthy adult, an occasional Coke Zero can be included in a healthy diet however, those who have certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, may wish to limit or avoid this and similar types of beverages.

Coke Zero does not contain any nutrients and due to the caffeine and carbonation, it can affect satiety especially if consumed frequently throughout the day. It is not advisable to drink Coke Zero frequently but rather on occasion.

Coke Zero Alternatives

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If your main reason for enjoying Coke Zero is for the energy boost, it might be tempting to grab an energy drink or even an electrolyte beverage, such as Gatorade to boost your energy levels but these often contain a lot of added sugars or similar artificial sweeteners to Coke Zero without a lot of nutritional value. So, what’s a better option?

If you are someone who drinks Coke Zero often and you want to swap it out for a better alternative, consider a product that provides a good source of nutrients that also gives you the energy boost you are used to such as Human Tonik Red Tonik powder.

Red Tonik contains a blend of beets, superfoods, and berries to help boost blood flow and heart health for better energy and long-term cardiovascular health. You get all the pep with an extra nutrient boost. Bonus, Human Tonik offers third-party testing for the quality and purity of their products and full transparency of their ingredients.

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