misc - Pepsi and Coke sodas

With the surgence of healthy beverages hitting the market — one of our faves being a new flavored water called Agua Con — soda giants Coke and Pepsi are in a race for a new drink with no calories, no artificial sweeteners and no funny aftertaste.

According to the Associated Press, the two companies — as well as other top soft drink companies — are on a hunt to find the right mix of ingredients in hopes the trifecta (no calories, no artificial sweeteners and noaftertaste) that will silence health concerns about sodas and reverse the decline in consumption of carbonated drinks.

However, some say that formula could be years away, because the ingredient that makes soda taste good is also what packs on the pounds: high-fructose corn syrup.

Artificial sweeteners used in diet drinks don’t have any calories, but are seen as processed and fake. Natural sweeteners that come from plants present the most promising alternative, but companies haven’t yet figured out how to mask their metallic aftertaste.

So, each company continues with their search before their competitors get there.

“I can’t say when it will be here, but it’s in the reasonable future,” Al Carey, who heads the beverage unit for the Americas at PepsiCo Inc., the world’s #2 soda maker, told the AP.

The reason behind the urgency in finding a healthy solution is because sodas are being blamed for America’s weight problems — two-thirds of the country’s adults are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, the growing variety of flavored waters and sports drinks has driven down soda consumption 17% to about 1.3 cans a day since its peak in 1998, according to data from Beverage Digest, an industry tracker.

“High-fructose corn syrup, the cheap sweetener that’s used in most sodas, has the same nutritional value and taste of sugar. A can of regular soda typically has about 40 grams of high-fructose corn syrup and 140 calories. By comparison, the same amount of apple juice has about 38 grams of sugar and 165 calories, but companies can tout the vitamins and other nutrients juice provides,” the AP’s Candice Choi writes.

One alternative, aspartame, is commonly used in diet sodes like Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. It doesn’t have any calories, but some drinkers worry about the fact that the sweeteners are not natural.