Coca Cola’s variant Coke Life hit our supermarket shelves in 2015 and I’m sure you’ve seen it! Packaged in bright spring-green cans and bottles with a distinctive label that was a real contrast to the well-known red label, Coke Life brags how it contains 35 per cent less sugar and kilojoules than regular Coke but claims to preserve the classic Coke taste. Not being a Coke drinker myself, I asked a student dietitian and her cola-drinking friends to do a taste-test for me. Read on for their surprising findings.
NOTE: COKE LIFE WAS WITHDRAWN FROM THE MARKET IN 2017 WITH THE LAUNCH OF COKE NO SUGAR.
Guest post by student dietitian Daisy Coyle
Coke Life was another Coke-branded product from the soft drink giant, the first since the launch of Coke Zero in 2006. It was released in 2015 in response to consumer demand for a soft drink that is lower in sugar/kilojoules but derived from a ‘natural’ sweetener. The reduction in sugar in Coke Life is made possible thanks to the addition of stevia, a kilojoule-free sweetener extracted from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant.
To test whether Coke Life really does taste identical to the original, I recruited four sceptical friends (who enjoy the taste of Coke) to participate in a blind taste test. In their day-to-day lives, all of the taste testers choose to drink regular Coke over the two artificially sweetened varieties Coke Zero and Diet Coke.
Each tester was given two cups, labelled A and B. Cup A contained Classic Coke and Cup B contained Coke Life. I explained the composition of the new Coke Life formula and asked them to try and pick out which cup contained the stevia-sweetened beverage.
Coke Life contains all the same ingredients (sugar, stevia, caffeine) and additives (colour, flavour, acid) as regular Coke which have attracted criticism.
Ingredients in Coke Life
Carbonated water, sugar, colour (150d), flavour, food acid (338), caffeine, sweetener (960)
colour (150d) = Caramel IV which is not considered harmful in the way tartrazine or erythrosine are but still has some concerns
Food acid (338) = Phosphoric acid
Sweetener (960) = Stevia
| Ingredients in regular Coke:
Carbonated purified water, cane sugar, colour (caramel 150d), food acid (338), flavour, caffeine.
Ingredients on a label are listed in order of "ingoing weight", largest first. Interestingly there is more flavour in Coke Life where it's listed 4th as opposed to 5th in ordinary Coke. Maybe to mask the aftertaste of stevia? We'll probably never know.
Serve size: 250 mL (which is one large glass)
No of serves: 5
||Per serve - 250 mL||Per 100 mL|
|Dietary Fibre, g||0||0|
Whilst Coke Life is a healthier alternative to regular Coke due to its reduction of sugar and kilojoules, it is a still a high sugar beverage. It contains a moderate amount of sugar and kilojoules and therefore cannot be drunk as freely as Coke Zero and Diet Coke. Whilst it may be presented as the ‘healthy’ version, it is still a fundamentally unhealthy product and should be consumed in moderation. Be wary of it.
* This is based on a suggested intake of 90 grams of sugars a day as specified by the Food Standards Code which includes BOTH added sugar as well as natural sugars from fruit and dairy. Most nutritionists suggest limiting added sugar to 50 grams a day which is 12 teaspoons. So 10 teaspoons from a 600 mL Coke Life Buddy means you’re almost at your day’s total for sugar.
Thank you to the taste testers: McCawley, Johnny, Robbie and Hayden
Thanks to Daisy Coyle, student dietitian, for writing this Review.