Are you ready to drink Coca-Cola that’s been enriched with fiber? The beverage giant certainly thinks so, if their unveiling of the new Coca-Cola Plus is anything to go by. The brains operating behind Coca-Cola Japan spent over a decade in research and development before coming up with the recipe. Although interesting in theory, others are unconvinced of the Japan-exclusive soft drink’s reputed health benefits. Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist and registered dietitian, wrote in a Health.com article that “the added fiber is bundled with an artificial sweetener, and artificial sweeteners can wreak havoc in the body.”
The strawman fallacy
Certified dietitian-nutritionist Beth Warren expressed a similar opinion in a statement to WomensHealthMag.com, saying: “Adding fiber to a drink does not turn an unhealthy food into a healthy one. There’s something to say about a food or drink being a natural source of fiber versus an artificial one.” She then noted that obtaining fiber from a whole food source would allow the fiber to act with the other components of the food, which in turn would aid with digestion of the nutrients. Warren acknowledged that the idea of fiber-added products “sound[s] good”; however, she followed that up with a warning that people consuming these “health drinks” could increase their chances of developing stomach discomforts and becoming bloated.
The message behind the product has also garnered some criticism. “It’s making it sound like soda is a healthy beverage that can improve your health, when there are tons of other things about regular and diet soda that are not doing the body any favors. Trying to reposition soda as a health-promoting beverage is a slippery slope, and I don’t support that,” said dietitian Jessica Cording, who has also called the messaging “problematic.”
The official statements
“The no-calorie beverage contains five grams of indigestible dextrin—a source of dietary fiber—per 470-ml bottle,” the Coca-Cola stated in their official press release last February. “Drinking one Coca-Cola Plus per day with food will help suppress fat absorption and help moderate the levels of triglycerides in the blood after eating.”
Dr. David Machiels, Product Development Director of the Research and Development branch of Coca-Cola Asia Pacific, has also spoken positively of the newest product rolled out by the brand, stating: “Coca-Cola Plus is a sugar-free and calorie-free beverage with [Food of Specified Health Use] functions and great Coca-Cola taste, so we hope people will drink it with meals.” (Related: Coca-Cola jumps on green tea bandwagon, launches Enviga beverage with negative calorie claims)
The recommended daily amount of fiber for women is around 25 to 30 g; the average daily fiber intake for Americans has been recorded at 16 g, but Sass claims there are better ways to fill up the gap. Sass has named avocado, raspberries, and black beans as three foods that could easily meet that daily fiber requirement. Half an avocado has over 8 g of fiber, a cup of raspberries has over 8 g, and a good 15 g of fiber can be found in just a cup of black beans.
Coca-Cola Plus officially hit the shelves of groceries and convenience stores on March 27 and is being sold at 158 Yen or $1.40, according to En.RocketNews24.com. Currently, there are no plans to bring the drink over the United States or to other countries outside of Japan.
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