British media wouldn’t be British media without endless stories of possible health risks in food and drink. The news cycle turns and we land on whether butter is good or bad, or whether having a glass of red wine in the evening is toxic or therapeutic.
Another long-running, oft-studied and frequently-discussed topic of debate is aspartame, the artificial sweetener found in the likes of Diet Coke and Coke Zero. The latter is a favourite drink of mine.
Aspartame has suffered its fair share of derision in the past, but it is now being officially declared a ‘possible’ cancer risk by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a World Health Organisation body. The agency has reclassified the product as a class 2B carcinogen, one of four categories where 1 means it causes cancer; 2A it probably causes cancer; 2B it possibly causes cancer; and 3 means too little evidence.
I won’t be stopping my cans of Coke Zero. There’s plenty of information around that suggests the risk – if indeed there is any risk – is marginal. But if you do want to mix things up, there are cola alternatives to the big brands that give aspartame a miss – and here are my pick of the bunch.
The first thing to know about Karma Cola is that through its charity, the Karma Foundation, 1 per cent of revenue from every drink sold goes to cola nut growers and their communities in Sierra Leone. The brand builds schools, hospitals, water pumps and more. Luckily enough for those in the market for global change, the drinks taste good, and are excellent as mixers thanks to their simplicity. The sugar-free option is crisp and refreshing, blending the organic and ethically-sourced cola nuts with stevia, a sugar substitute made from the stevia plant, and containing no carbohydrates, calories or artificial ingredients.