Nutritional Value of Soft Drinks

Nutritional Value of Soft Drinks
The nutrition value of soft drinks is sometimes exaggerated by manufacturers who want consumers to perceive their products to be of special benefit. That said, the value of soft drinks must not be understated, because they are an essential vehicle for hydration. Soft drinks are usually absorbed more readily than water (because of their osmolality), can replace lost salts and energy quickly and are rapidly thirst quenching. Their balance of sweetness and acidity, coupled with pleasant flavors, makes them attractive to all ages of consumers. Products are socially formulated to meet the tastes, nutritionally needs and physiologically constraints of the whole population, from babies to geriatrics.

The claims that are legally permitted for soft drinks vary from country to country but for the most part are limited to nutritional claims concerning energy, proteins, vitamins and/or minerals. Any form of medicinal claim (i.e. curative or symptomatic relief) will almost always be excluded by corresponding medicines legislation. There is, nevertheless, a growing trend to include natural extracts in many soft drinks and then rely on the general understanding and folklore that surrounds such ingredients to impart the special values that have been attributed to them.

There are three main areas of particular nutritional significance for soft drinks. The first is energy. Some soft drinks are formulated to deliver a rapidly assimilated energy boosts to the consumer. All carbohydrates are important sources of energy but soft drinks generally contain soluble sugars, which are easy to administer. However, because high levels of sugars are often intensely sweet and even sickly, with a cloying sensation in the mouth, energy drinks are formulated around glucose syrup.

The second area of nutritional significance is that of the so-called isotonic drinks, which are of equivalent osmolality to body fluids. They promote extremely rapid uptake of body salts and water, and are very important products for sports people and other requiring almost instant dehydration.

Third, soft drinks have been widely formulated to low calories forms and for those who wish to enjoy such beverage and yet minimize their caloric intake. Other nutritional benefits that are claimed by some producers include the delivery of essential vitamins and minerals, especially to children.
Nutritional Value of Soft Drinks

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