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Diet Pepsi’s New Sweetener is Still No Reason to Drink Diet Soda

There’s a new Diet Pepsi in several cities around the U.S., which now lists a new ingredient on the cans and bottles. It’s called acesulfame potassium, also known as Acesulfame K or Ace K.

This quiet change is apparently not going to change the taste of the soda, but is meant to add shelf life by allowing the “fresh” taste and flavor to last longer. The project’s goal is to give the old/current base sweetener (aspartame) a jump kick because of its sensitivity to heat and susceptibility to breaking down. Ace K has proven to be less sensitive to heat.

So what exactly is Ace K? Acesulfame potassium is another form of an artificial sweetener that is calorie free and about 200 times as sweet as everyday table sugar. Due to its slightly bitter aftertaste, it is often mixed with other artificial sweeteners (in this case it was mixed with Diet Pepsi’s aspartame). It’s often found in many baked goods, processed foods and other soft drinks similar to Diet Pepsi.

“Aspartame breaks down during storage especially when the temperature is high (that’s why you can’t bake with it) and so this is a good move on Pepsi’s part,” said our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD. “The move has nothing to do with the safety of aspartame, which has been found to be safe in scientific studies time and again.”

That might be one positive factor, but is it enough to make it OK to be consuming the other harmful ingredients listed on the back?
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Soda Vending Machines To List Calorie Counts in 2013

As if the soda industry hasn’t gained enough negative attention from the New York City soda ban, another wave of criticism has caused a serious change that will roll out as early as next year. 

What will likely become a new national standard will begin taking place in 2013: Vending machines in Chicago and San Antonio municipal buildings will begin showing calorie counts on the front of all machines.

As reported by Associated Press, Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper are introducing new vending machines that will show the calorie count of each beverage before you select it. Mock-ups of the new machines by Coca-Cola show 20-ounce bottles of Coke and Sprite in vending machines with labels on the glass that state “240 calories.” We can only assume that this is another initiative – much like the soda ban – to try and make people more conscious of their diet choices.

This move comes as part of the Supreme Court decision this summer to uphold President Obama’s health care law, requiring vending machines and restaurant chains larger than 20 locations to clearly post their calorie information on the menu. McDonald’s complied last month when it began posting nutrition information on its menus nationwide.

Mike Jacobson, the executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told AP that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed an amendment that would require nutrition information to be posted on the side of vending machines via a poster. His organization advocates for food safety and nutrition and is pleased about these upcoming changes, believing they will help people make more conscious decisions regarding their health.

“This would be an important step forward. Currently, people don’t think about calories when they go up to a vending machine,” he said. “Having the calories right on the button will hep them make choices.” 
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Pepsi Next: Fewer Calories but Creates More Concern

Pepsi just officially released its newest beverage: Pepsi Next.

Pepsi says the new beverage has 60 percent less sugar and 60 percent fewer calories than regular Pepsi. But, in order to keep the sweetness but reduce the amount of sugar and calories, Pepsi Next features all of the sugar substitutes it has into one beverage. It combined high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, Sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

This is quite the sweetener combo and if you are like most, seeing this list may make you wonder what you’re going to be chugging. Even though Pepsi Next does contain a lot of artificial sweeteners, the fact that it is only half the calories of regular Pepsi could be a plus for those who want to reduce their sugar intake and cut calories to lose weight or maintain their weight.

Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips said in an email, ”If someone were to replace one full calorie soda for a Pepsi Next each day, he or she would save 60 calories—that’s 420 calories a week. They may not lose weight, but they’ll certainly save nutrient-poor sugar calories and perhaps leave more room in the diet for more healthful foods like a small piece of fruit.”

Here is some quick info on these artificial sweeteners included in the Pepsi Next that you may want to know about:

Aspartame, also found in Diet Pepsi, is one of the more controversial artificial sweeteners out there. The FDA has claimed its research has not shown any adverse health complications from aspartame. But according to MedicineNet.com, there is some evidence suggesting headaches, depression, increased hunger, and even cancer can be related to consuming aspartame.

Sucralose, also found in Pepsi One, is most well known for its claim to be made from sugar. It is usually  found in Splenda and is 600 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). It is claimed to have no calories by itself. According to Sucralose.org, it is not a natural product. The website claims it is made from a chemically modified sugar molecule. The FDA reviewed studies in human beings and animals. It determined there was no evidence of it causing cancer and posed no risk to human health. According to MedicineNet, the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for sucralose is set at 5 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. So if you weighed 200 pounds, your ADI would be 455 mg. According to Pepsi’s product information for every 12 ounces, there is approximately 14 mg of sucralose.
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Pepsi Next Splits the Difference as a “Mid-Calorie” Soda

Pepsi will introduce a new “mid-calorie” soda at the end of this month. The 60 calorie Pepsi Next will contain half the calories of a regular Pepsi yet, more Pepsi flavor than Diet Pepsi.

This isn’t the first time Pepsi, or Coke for that matter, have attempted this. In 2001 both companies introduced mid-calorie colas. Coke brought C2 to the shelves, while Pepsi distributed Pepsi Edge. Both products were taken off the market within five years due to low sales.

Currently, all soda sales are low. Soft drink sales in 2005 were at 10 billion cases. In 2010, sales dropped to 9.4 billion. While soda sales are going down overall, diet soda sales capture the largest percentage of the market.

This may be the right time for a mid-calorie soda in comparison to 2001. Michael Jacobson is the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The Center has criticized high-calorie soft drinks in the past, yet they are liking what they see with the Pepsi Next product.


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Casual Pot Smoking Presents No Harm to Lungs

The proof is in the pudding, or doobie, as it were. Despite all our preconceived thoughts about the lasting dangers of marijuana, it turns out it’s not that bad for you after all.

New research has concluded that casual pot smoking does not affect the functioning of the lungs. Casual is defined as smoking up to one joint per day.

These statistics were gathered from a two decade-long study of 5115 men and women. The study was conducted by the University of California, San Fransisco and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The results were published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
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