Soda, as well as it may quench and as good as it tastes, sucks–not to mince words or anything. Studies by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health found that children and adults who drink soft drinks regularly are heavier on average, in addition to being much more likely to develop diabetes later in life. One study showed that women who drank a minimum of one soda a day could increase their chance of developing type-2 diabetes by a staggering 85 percent!
Ones that rely on artificial sweeteners pose concern as well. Sucralose, known as Splenda, is marketed as a “natural” sweetener since it is derived from sugar (what a spin) but is rendered unrecognizable as a natural ingredient after the intensive processing it receives in the lab. Long term studies have not been conducted on Splenda, and many believe it will eventually prove harmful to our health. Other artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, are suspect as well.
Besides the sugar content which adds to tooth decay, most soft drinks are also acidic—frequent sipping of these low-pH drinks can have adverse effects on tooth enamel, namely in the form of erosion.
And wait, there’s more! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other agencies have found that some sodas commonly sold in the States have concentrations of benzene above the legal limit set for drinking water. Benzene is not added, but can occur as a reaction between phosphoric acid and preservatives used in some sodas. Benzene is classified as a known human carcinogen by the EPA, and is associated with leukemia, aplastic anemia and other blood diseases.
So what to do? Drinking plain water, springs to mind, of course, but sometimes…people just want a soda. Personally, the sparkling-water-with-a-splash-of-juice option leaves me cold. The sparkle is diluted by the juice and the juice is diluted by the sparkle, resulting in a neither-flavorful-nor-sparkly marriage.
I have found this simple concoction to be a very happy solution. No artificial ingredients, delicious, and only 35 calories per serving.
Maple Cream Soda
12 ounces sparkling water (club soda, seltzer, sparkling mineral water)
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or more, as you like)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mix, add ice, drink, say “mmm mmm.”