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What's in a Non-Sugar Beverage?

In swapping out alcoholic bevies for their non-alcoholic versions, you might find yourself choosing from the many unsweetened options available on the market these days. I'm gonna take a run at some of the common ingredients contained in most of them. Although the consensus is that they tend to be relatively harmless, some people can be sensitive to them and in general it's always better to keep consumption to a minimum. Plain H2O is always your best choice! But yes I know it gets "old" after a while so read to the end for a "sweet" compromise.


Malic acid is a type of organic acid that is naturally found in many fruits, including apples, grapes, and citrus fruits. It has a sour taste and is commonly used as a food additive to impart a tart flavor to foods and beverages, such as candies, soft drinks, and sourdough bread.

Malic acid has been studied for its potential health benefits, including its role in energy production and exercise performance. It is also sometimes used as a natural remedy for conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, although more research is needed to fully understand its effects on these conditions.


Aspartame is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose) on a weight-to-weight basis. This means that a much smaller amount of aspartame is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness as sugar.

For example, one teaspoon of sugar (about 4 grams) has approximately 16 calories and provides about 4 grams of carbohydrate. To achieve the same level of sweetness, only a small amount of aspartame (less than 1 gram) is needed, which contains virtually no calories or carbohydrates.

Because aspartame is so much sweeter than sugar, it is often used in combination with other sweeteners, such as acesulfame potassium or sucralose, to create a more balanced sweetness profile and to reduce the aftertaste that some people may experience when consuming high amounts of aspartame. While aspartame is approved by several regulatory agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some people may experience side effects from consuming it.

Some common reported side effects of aspartame consumption include:

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Changes in mood or behavior

  • Allergic reactions in some individuals

There have also been some studies that have suggested a potential link between aspartame consumption and certain health conditions, such as cancer, although the evidence is not conclusive.


Acesulfame potassium (also known as acesulfame K or Ace-K) is a calorie-free artificial sweetener used in many food and beverage products as a sugar substitute. It is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar and is often used in combination with other sweeteners to enhance sweetness and reduce the aftertaste.

Acesulfame potassium is approved for use by several regulatory agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and is generally considered safe for consumption at the approved levels.

Some people have raised concerns about potential health effects of consuming acesulfame potassium, including a possible link to cancer or other health conditions. However, these concerns have not been supported by scientific research and acesulfame potassium has been deemed safe for consumption by several regulatory agencies.

As with any food or beverage ingredient, some individuals may experience side effects from consuming acesulfame potassium, such as headaches, nausea, or allergic reactions in some people. However, the majority of people who consume acesulfame potassium do not experience any negative side effects.


Sodium citrate is a salt of citric acid that is commonly used as a food additive to enhance flavor and preserve freshness. It has a slightly salty, sour taste and is often used in the food industry as an acidity regulator, emulsifier, and preservative.

In the body, sodium citrate is broken down into citric acid and sodium ions, which can have several beneficial effects. For example, it can help to reduce the acidity of urine and may be used to treat certain medical conditions, such as kidney stones or urinary tract infections. Sodium citrate is also used as an anticoagulant in medical procedures, such as dialysis and blood transfusions.

In food products, sodium citrate is commonly used in processed cheese to improve its melting properties and prevent it from separating, as well as in carbonated beverages to enhance the tartness and improve the stability of the flavor. It is also used in some sports drinks and energy bars to help maintain the body's pH balance during exercise. Overall, sodium citrate is considered safe for consumption in food products when used in accordance with regulatory guidelines.


Potassium sorbate is a salt of sorbic acid that is commonly used as a food preservative to inhibit the growth of mold, yeast, and other microorganisms in food products. It is a white, crystalline powder that is soluble in water and is often used in combination with other preservatives to improve their effectiveness.

Potassium sorbate is generally recognized as safe by regulatory agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and is approved for use in a wide range of food products.

In addition to its use as a food preservative, potassium sorbate is also used in personal care products, such as cosmetics and skin care products, to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi.

While potassium sorbate is generally considered safe, some people may experience side effects from consuming it. These side effects can include gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting in some individuals. Additionally, some people may have an allergic reaction to potassium sorbate.

In summary, most people have no issues with the common ingredients listed above. If you're planning to drink unsweetened soft drinks regularly - because let's face it, plain water does get boring - consider adding a splash of it to a glass of soda water to keep the quantity down while keeping the fun flavour. Cheers! xo

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