Coca-Cola recently unveiled a new soda with an ingredient that’s sure to go down smoothly with its customers: dietary fiber.
The beverage company introduced the product, which is called Coca-Cola Plus, in February. The soda is only sold in Japan and contains five grams of indigestible dextrin (which is a form of dietary fiber).
According to an announcement from Coke back in February, the product is a part of Coca-Cola Japan’s Food of Specified Health Use (FOSHU) drinks. FOSHU drinks are meant to appeal to Japan’s health conscious consumers who are 40 and older. Coke, which has had a popular FOSHU tea drink in the market since 2014, said it took over a decade to research and develop Coke Plus, which was recently approved by the Japanese government. However, people aren’t too sure if its “healthy” claims will actually do that much to help consumers.
“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,” the company claimed in a press release.
Companies adding dietary fiber to its drinks is nothing new. Pepsi added dietary fiber to drinks in its Japanese market a few years ago and made similar claims about fat absorption and triglycerides that Coke did in the statement above.
“Unless Pepsi can provide data from controlled studies in humans to the contrary, their claim should be regarded as bogus and deceptive,” Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, told Time in 2012.
HuffPost reached out to Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D, one of the country’s leading nutritionists and director of the Sustainability Institute at the University of New Hampshire, to talk about the addition of dietary fiber to soda.
“There is no evidence that providing fiber, sprinkling it in here or there, that that fiber has an overall health benefit, so that’s an important distinction,” Nelson told HuffPost. “The evidence for dietary fiber having a health-promoting impact is with eating a pattern of foods (like fruits and vegetables and whole grains) that provide that fiber.”
Nelson said that adding the fiber won’t do anything harmful to the consumer, but just adding the fiber by itself won’t have any of the health attributes a fiber-rich diet would offer. But she did find one part “disturbing” about the fiber claims.
“The companies are trying to add or create a positive halo or health attribute within a product that doesn’t have any health benefits,” Nelson said. “If it’s a sugar-sweetened beverage then it actually has a lot of negative health benefits, so it’s trying to counterbalance that. That’s the disturbing part, because I think they’re trying to connect with the consumer and create a health attribute where there isn’t one.”
So if you want to add more fiber to your diet, it’s best to do it with fruits, veggies and whole grains.
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