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Saturday 18 August 2018

The truth about fizzy drinks

Most fizzy cola drinks make you fat. The only solution is to drink water or drink diet versions of your (other) favourite sticky black stuff.

The first diet colas were popularised in the 1960s and '70s with brands such as Tab (created by Coca-Cola) and, of course, Diet Pepsi, which was introduced in 1963. Diet Coke was introduced in 1982 and it soon overtook Tab in sales.

The history of diet drinks is rather murky, although it is now generally accepted that the artificial sweeteners are harmless. Diet drinks will, of course, not make you thin and inconclusive evidence suggests that they may increase appetite.

All the brands tested contained similar ingredients and calorie content (less than 2 calories per 100ml). Only the Tesco Premium Cola used sucralose (known as Splenda) with all the others using aspartame (NutraSweet).

All colas were tasted blind by myself and a female taster.

Coke Zero 2ltr, €2.09

This is aimed squarely at the male market given that few men are willing to be seen drinking Diet Coke. This had classic cola aromas with a hint of nutmeg.

Reasonable fizz and a good refreshing cola taste with a mild cinnamon flavour and a dry finish with only a slight aspartame taste. 8/10

Tesco American Cola 2ltr, €1.09 Labelled as "American Style," this cola claims to be a more traditional cola and it tastes considerably spicier, with noticeable vanilla, ginger and allspice aromas. Good fizz and spicy flavours make this quite a dry cola with only a small amount of artificial sweetener taste on the finish. May not appeal to all. 7.5/10

Lidl Freeway Cola, 2ltr, €0.55 Light vanilla and classic cola aromas combined with a touch of spice.

Perhaps a little light in fizz but also low in bitter aspartame flavours.

Mild and fairly dry tasting.

Fairly classic cola taste and very good value -- clearly the best of the discount brands. 7/10

Pepsi Max 2ltr, €2.09 The first of the mass-market diet colas aimed specifically at males. Rich fruity cola aroma that seems to smell sweet.

Distinctly sweeter taste, good cola flavour and better fizz than many samples.

Quite noticeable aspartame on the finish but recommended if you like sweet cola. 6/10

Tesco SunSip Cola, 2ltr, €0.55 Available in Tesco as an alternative to their Value brand and aimed at shoppers who might occasionally stray to Aldi or Lidl.

Classic cola smell and good fizz but with a noticeable bitter aspartame taste.

Not too sweet and good value but a little artificial in taste. 5.5/10

Aldi Vive, 2ltr, €0.55

Unusual aroma of cola mixed with a scent of gingerbread.

Light in fizz with a pleasant sweet cola taste initially, but unfortunately followed by a noticeable aspartame taste.

Not terrible, but one of the weakest tasting of all the colas in the test, not improved by a slight watery edge. 4.5/10

Diet Pepsi, 2ltr, €2.09

Pepsi don't seem to market this as much as its other brands and on this tasting it is just as well.

Good fruity aromas with a touch of vanilla followed by a mildly spicy cola flavour initially but with a rather cloying sweetness. Strong artificial aspartame bitterness on the finish. Not as bad as Diet Coke but not far from it. 3/10

Diet Coke, 2ltr, €2.09

Marketed directly at women but you do see a few brave males drinking it occasionally. Less fizzy than any other cola tested and with a very mild cola flavour but very strong aspartame taste that left a coating of bitterness on the roof of my mouth. Truly vile to my taste but also disliked by my female taster. Avoid. 2/10

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