People of all ages are familiar with the distinct red and white Coke logo. Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink that has endured for more than a century, despite having been given a run for its money by competitors such as Pepsi, another cola-flavored beverage. You might love the taste and fizziness of the "Real Thing." However, the benefits of drinking Coke aren't impressive from a nutritional standpoint.
The Coke Legacy
Chemist John Pemberton of Atlanta, Georgia, invented the formula of a dark fizzy concoction he named "Coca-Cola" in 1886. However, Coke didn't take off until almost 10 years later, when a Mississippi businessman found a way to bottle the drink, as well as secure a trademark and design for the famous Coke bottle. Coke launched overseas in the mid-1920s. The Coca-Cola company subsequently acquired Minute Maid and Sprite in the early 1960s. One of the more notable Coke commercials was released in 1971 and featured the Hilltop Singers singing "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." In May 2011, Coke celebrated its 125th anniversary.
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One of the benefits of drinking Coke is that it contains caffeine, a natural stimulant found in the kola nut, coffee beans and tea leaves. Caffeine makes you feel more alert when you're tired and might increase your performance when embarking on certain tasks. According to the International Food Council Information Foundation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has recognized caffeine as an additive that's Generally Recognized As Safe, or GRAS, since the late 1950s. Moderate consumption of caffeine -- around 300 mg -- is generally not harmful for healthy adults, although some people are more sensitive to caffeine. A 12 oz. can of Coke contains 34 mg of caffeine, far less than the average cup of coffee, which contains 85 mg of caffeine.
Furthermore, Coke is loaded with added sugar, which is not a benefit to your health. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, labels Coke and other soft drinks "liquid candy" and points to these beverages as a major contributor to weight gain in children and adults. When the Hilltop Singers earnestly sang they wanted to buy the world a Coke, they weren't kidding: CSPI reports that companies such as Coca-Cola manufacture enough soda pop to provide more than 500 12 oz. cans of pop to every person in America annually. Weight gain leads to more serious health complications such as type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and certain types of cancer. A 12 oz. can of Coke gives you 140 calories, almost all from an added sugar called high-fructose corn syrup. MayoClinic.com indicates that added sugars are simple carbohydrates that give you calories, but no essential nutrients.
Coke and Diet
The Coca-Cola Co. is actively involved in philanthropic endeavors, a compelling reason to make it your soft drink of choice. In June 2011, the company announced that it gave $200,000 to the World Islamic Economic Forum Foundation to help empower women economically. Weigh the health and nutritional benefits of drinking Coke before popping open the can, especially if you're watching your weight. The American Heart Association recommends that women get no more than 100 calories daily from added sugar. Men should limit added sugar calories to no more than 150 calories.