Soda Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Soda

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Back in the late 1800s and early-to-mid 1900s, soda was the almighty beverage. Millions of people enjoyed soda every day, and as the famed Coca-Cola grew in popularity, more and more brands of soda began appearing on store shelves. 

However, when research started surfacing about the negative health effects of these sugar-sweetened, carbonated beverages, soda went from being praised to being condemned within a matter of months. While soda can certainly be tasty and refreshing, it’s definitely worth knowing what exactly is in a can of soda and how those ingredients affect your health. 

Because there are so many brands and types of soda on the market, we chose one of the most popular and well-known types of soda to break down in this article. The following information about soda nutrition facts is for Coca-Cola, but following the nutrition facts, you’ll learn about varieties of soda and the health effects of soda in general. 

Soda Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information for one 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Soda Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 140
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 43.2g
  • Carbohydrates: 39g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 39g 
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs

One 12-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola contains 39 grams of carbohydrates, all of which come from added sugar. The US Dietary Guidelines for Americans stipulate that people should limit their daily sugar intake to just 10 percent of their total calorie intake. For someone who eats 2,000 calories per day, that equals 50 grams of sugar—just one can of Coca-Cola leaves you with only 11 grams of sugar to spare on a 2,000 calorie diet.

The American Heart Association suggests that men eat no more than 36 grams and that women eat no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day. By the AHA’s account, a single can of Coca-Cola puts both men and women over the daily sugar intake limit. 

These sugar intake suggestions are in place for a reason: Excess sugar consumption is linked to various health risks. 

Fats

Coca-Cola contains no fat. This can be perceived as a good thing or a bad thing—the beverage is free from harmful trans fats, but it’s also void of healthy dietary fats, such as omega-3s and omega-6s. 

Protein

Coca-Cola also contains no protein, so it doesn’t offer any of the benefits that dietary protein offers, such as muscle growth, appetite control, tissue repair, bone health, and healthy aging.

Vitamins and Minerals

Soda is typically void of vitamins and minerals, including Coca-Cola. According to the USDA food database, a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola contains no essential nutrients, such as potassium, calcium, or iron. It also does not contain any vitamin A, C, E, D, K, or B.  

Coca-Cola does contain some sodium (43.2 grams in a 12-ounce serving). 

Health Benefits

It’s common knowledge these days that soda isn’t good for your health. Drinking soda, especially the conventional kind with tons of sugar, has been linked to several health complications, including chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

If soda could be given one credit, it’s that soda is a fluid, and fluids help with hydration. However, most sodas contain ample caffeine, which is a diuretic that can contribute to dehydration if you’re not used to drinking caffeine or if you drink too much at once. If you drink soda regularly, you likely won’t experience an issue with dehydration. 

Some sodas, such as ginger ale, can ease nausea. Ginger itself is known to ease stomach aches, and carbonated water has a soothing effect on some people, as well. 

Adverse Effects

It’s common knowledge these days that soda isn’t good for your health. Drinking soda, especially the conventional kind with tons of sugar, has been linked to several health complications, including chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. Below, learn about some of the negative effects of soda on your health. 

Type 2 Diabetes

Sugary drinks like soda have been linked to type 2 diabetes. Researchers believe soda contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes because of the high sugar content, which can lead to insulin resistance. Soda may also cause spikes in blood sugar, which can be harmful over time when they happen repeatedly. 

You may remember a controversial study from 2016 that stated there was no link between sugary drinks and diabetes. However, the study authors presented many conflicts of interest (they had ties to manufacturers of sugary beverages, including The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo), which makes the reliability of this evidence questionable. 

Weight Gain

Numerous research studies have suggested a link between sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain. For example, one meta-analysis found a strong connection between sugary drinks and weight gain in children and adolescents, although the study authors note that the link remains controversial due to differences among research studies. 

Other research points to weight gain and high fructose corn syrup, which is the most common form of sugar found in sodas. Sugary drinks don’t typically make people feel full or satiated, so people tend to consume sodas on top of their other calorie intake, which may lead to a caloric surplus on days they drink soda.

Sugary drinks have also been linked to an increase in belly fat and waist circumference, indicating an increased risk for excess visceral fat. Visceral fat surrounds your abdominal organs and has been linked to numerous health complications. 

Heart Disease

Sugar intake has been linked to heart disease since the mid-1900s. This hasn’t changed—more recent research confirms the link between excess sugar consumption and various forms of heart disease and heart disease risk factors, including coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides.

Fatty Liver Disease

Some research shows that consumption of both regular and diet soda can increase the risk of fatty liver disease, which shows that something other than the traditional risk factors of sugar and calorie consumption is contributing to this scenario. However, other research found that only sugar-sweetened drinks, and not the diet version of them, contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Cravings

Studies in animals have shown that sugar can be physically addictive, and other research speculates as to whether sugar can be addictive in humans, too, referencing the same neurochemical pathways linked to drug addiction. If you just can’t seem to give up your daily Coca-Cola, this could be why. 

Gout

Gout probably isn’t high up on the average person’s “list of health risks to watch for,” but if you drink soda, it should be. People who drink soda have a much higher risk of developing gout, a disease characterized by sudden and severe pain in the joints. 

Research shows that soda consumption increases women’s risk of gout by up to 75 percent and increases men’s risk of gout by up to 50 percent. 

Gout occurs when you have too much uric acid in your body and it crystallizes in your joints, leading to inflammation and pain. The connection between soda consumption and gout is likely that excess fructose can lead to high levels of uric acid in the body, and soda contains large amounts of high fructose corn syrup. 

Tooth Decay

The combination of sugar and acids in soda makes soft drinks a train wreck for teeth. Bacteria in your mouth love to feed on sugar (of which there is plenty in soda), and the acid in soda leaves your teeth vulnerable to enamel erosion. Your enamel is the hard outer layer on your teeth that protects the softer interior. The combination of enamel erosion and feeding bacteria spells disaster for your dental health.

Varieties

As you’re probably aware, there are many different types of soda on the market. Walk into any convenience store and you’ll find several varieties—walk into any supermarket and you’ll probably find hundreds of varieties. 

Brands of Soda

You’re probably familiar with several types of soda already. Due to the popularity of soda in the 1900s and early 2000s, most adults today have had their fair share of soda—even if they make the conscious effort now to avoid drinking soda. 

Here are a few of the most popular brands of soda you can find in most stores:

  • Coca-Cola
  • Pepsi
  • Fanta
  • A&W 
  • Mug
  • Mountain Dew
  • Sprite
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Schweppes
  • 7UP
  • Crush
  • Mello Yellow
  • Sunkist
  • Stewart’s
  • RC Cola
  • Squirt
  • Barq’s
  • Pibb

The nutritional quality of soda varies depending on the brand you choose to drink, but most conventional sodas—including all of the brands above—list high fructose corn syrup as the second or third item on the ingredients list, which isn’t an indicator of a healthy beverage. 

Types of Soda

Sodas can also be categorized by type, which really means categorized by sugar content. Most soda brands today offer regular sodas, diet sodas, and zero-sugar sodas. Newer soda manufacturers have started catering to healthy-minded people with soda alternatives made from natural ingredients. 

Regular Soda

Regular or conventional soda is the unhealthiest type of soda. These sodas, like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Sprite, are laden with sugar. Sugar in soda typically comes in the form of high fructose corn syrup, which, like regular sugar, is linked to various health problems. Many regular sodas also contain artificial colorings.

Diet Soda

Diet soda was seen as a gift from the Heavens when it started popping up on store shelves. Consumers were in awe that they could enjoy their favorite beverages without all the sugar! However, people were too quick to give diet soda so much credit. Drinking diet soda can certainly help you curb your sugar consumption, but it doesn’t provide any direct health benefits. 

Research has shown us that artificial sweeteners don’t have a lasting effect on weight loss, probably because consuming artificial sweeteners still contributes to cravings for sweet-tasting foods and drinks, even in the absence of actual sugar. 

Some research even suggests that using artificial sweeteners in place of real sugar could lead to weight gain over time due to compensatory behaviors—in other words, people who drink diet soda regularly might eat more sugar in the form of processed food because they think they are “saving” calories with the diet soda. One study even linked diet soda consumption to a larger waist circumference later in life.

Healthier Soda 

Knowing that conventional soda isn’t exactly healthy—but also knowing that people still want their carbonated caffeine fix—several new manufacturers of healthier soda drinks have popped up on the market. 

Brands like Olipop, LaCroix, Spindrift, Zevia, Polar Seltzerade, Perrier, and Bubly make soda-like beverages with carbonated water, minerals, natural flavors, and artificial or novel sweeteners. Zevia, for instance, sweetens their zero-calorie soda with stevia.  

These beverages are great healthy alternatives to soda, especially for people who like to enjoy soda every day.

Carbonated Water

Carbonated water encompasses several different types of fizzy, bubbly water, and the term is interchangeable with both soda water and sparkling water. Carbonated water includes seltzer water, tonic water, club soda, and mineral water. 

All of these fizzy waters are slightly different, but as long as you avoid any varieties with excessive added sugar, they can all serve as good alternatives to conventional soda. 

When It’s Best

Soda can be found year-long in supermarkets across the world.

Storage and Food Safety

Soda can be stored either in your pantry or fridge, depending on how you prefer to drink it.

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