For many people, healthy living includes monitoring their diet and taking care with what they eat.
This includes monitoring their sodium intake to be under the daily recommended allowance of 1500 milligrams.
But if you are watching your sodium intake, you’ve got to be careful of hidden sodium content; it can pop up in a lot of surprising places. So you may wonder why a 12 ounce can of regular Coke or Pepsi has 30 to 45 milligrams of sodium in it.
Why is there sodium in soda?
There are 2 main reasons Sodium is added to your soda and 3 actual sources of it ;
Sodium draws out flavor and makes your soda taste better
Sodium sulfite agents enables distinct and classic soda coloring
But how and why does sodium in soda make it do that?
Let’s start at the beginning and i’ll cover these additives and sources in a bit more detail:
Starting with the ingredient list.
Table of Contents
What’s in That Coca-Cola (Or Pepsi)?
If you look at the ingredient list for Coca-Cola Classic or regular Pepsi, you’ll find that they have pretty much the same ingredients.
When carbonated water started to be mass produced, manufacturers would add salt to it.
The salt helped to make the water less bitter, and give it a more pleasant taste. In fact some naturally occurring carbonated waters start off being carbonated by dissolved limestone (calcium carbonate) and then absorb dissolved minerals like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) found near the limestone deposits.
So it’s entirely possible that there is some sodium that comes with the carbonated water.
You might wonder why Coca-Cola or Pepsi doesn’t have to say that the sodium is in the carbonated water, but according to the FDA, this would be considered an “incidental additive” because it is “an ingredient of another ingredient.”
The next ingredient in these soft drinks is high fructose corn syrup, a corn-based sweetener that is used because it is really inexpensive to make.
Chemically, high fructose corn syrup is a blend of glucose and fructose.
Per the FDA, the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas is HFCS 55, or high fructose corn syrup that is 55 percent fructose.
And, surprisingly, according to the nutrient information label that the FDA has on record, 100 grams of high fructose corn syrup has 2 milligrams of sodium in it. So that’s one source of sodium in your soda, but not nearly enough to account for 30 milligrams in a 12 ounce container.
So by reviewing all of the ingredients that Coca-Cola and Pepsi have in common, we have found three sources of sodium.
First, the carbonated water may contain trace amounts of sodium bicarbonate which acts as a flavor and is an ingredient, so it doesn’t have to be listed.
Second, the caramel color in soda is often made with a sodium sulfite agent, which would add sodium as well.
Third, sodium may be found in the natural flavor, which enhances the flavor of Coke or Pepsi that millions love and adore.
So it looks like sodium is there to make your soda taste good and make it taste like you expect it to. And don’t think that either company is going to change their formula anytime soon; you may not remember the disaster that was New Coke, but trust us, they do.
We can definitively tell you why sodium is not excluded from soda, and that’s to act as a preservative.
“A food to which a chemical preservative(s) is added shall, except when exempt pursuant to 501.100, bear a label declaration stating both the common or usual name of the ingredient(s) and a separate description of its function, e.g., preservative, to retard spoilage, a mold inhibitor, to help protect flavor or to promote color retention.”
So while Phosphoric Acid may help to preserve the food, that isn’t its primary goal, it’s just a perk.
Additionally, Coca-Cola is specifically labeled to say that it has no preservatives.
I'm Chris Watson, the chap that brings you Soda Pop Craft.
Like many, I'm a HUGE soda drinks fan and have an obsession with making, testing, and trying the myriad of flavors and brands from across the world. As well as brewing my own homemade soda concoctions.
This blog aims to bring you everything soda-related - so whether that’s burning questions, tips, recipes, and even in-depth tutorials for making your own healthy soft drinks at home. Pop a bottle and have a browse…
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