Nowadays there are several types of soft drinks or cold drinks are available in the market. These are actually flavored, sweetened drinks, loaded with chemicals like artificial coloring substances, flavoring agents, stabilizers, and preservatives. Since they are an empty source of calories, their excess intake is harmful to the health.
A soft drink is a drink containing carbonated water and a sweetener with natural or artificial flavoring agents. The sweetener may be sugar, or high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, or some combination of these sweeteners. In the case of diet drinks, a sugar substitute is used in place of sugar.
Types of Soft drinks available in India
Soft drinks can be broadly classified into 2 basic types depending on their composition-
- Cola drinks / Caffeinated Soft drinks (Usually black in color)
These beverages usually contain caffeine.
2. Caffeine free Soft Drinks(Usually colorless or colored soft drinks)
These beverages do not contain any caffeine.
Table-1: Types of Commercially available Soft drinks in India
|Type of soft Drink||Soft drink|
|Sugar sweetened Caffeinated Soft drinks||Black Cola drink|
|Sugar free Caffeinated Soft drinks||Sugar free/ Zero Calorie Black drink|
|Sugar sweetened Caffeine free Soft drinks||White drink|
|Ash color drink|
What are healthy soft drinks in India?
Since soft drinks do not contain any nutrients, rather they are loaded with harmful chemicals and sugar, so they are not healthy drinks. It’s just certain soft drinks are more harmful than other soft drinks.
Which cola drink is healthy?
After reviewing the detailed composition of cola drinks, it can be stated that almost all cola drinks contain artificial chemical agents like artificial flavoring agents, coloring substances, preservatives, and acidity regulators. They are loaded with sugar. You will be surprised to know that intake of only 100ml (approximately half a cup of cola drinks) of cola drink cause intake of more than 2 teaspoons (10-12g) of sugar. For this reason, addiction to soft drinks causes weight gain and increases the risk of obesity.
If you are health conscious, then please avoid all types of soft drinks.
If are addicted to cola drinks but try to reduce body weight or restrict your daily calorie intake, then you may try sugar-free cola drinks, because they are free from any added sugar. But you must be aware that artificial sweeteners have also several adverse effects on our health. So, try to reduce the intake of even sugar-free drinks.
Which soft drink is good for weight loss?
Various types of sugar-free soft drinks are available in the market. You may go for these soft drinks if you are addicted to cola drinks.
If you are going through a weight-loss resume, you should strictly avoid the classical cola beverages as they are loaded with sugar. One cup (200ml) of any of these beverages supply 20 to 24 g (4-5 teaspoons) of sugar which means intake of around 80 to 100 Kcal of energy.
Like cola beverages, sugar-sweetened caffeine-free beverages are also loaded with sugars, more surprisingly, caffeine-free beverages contain higher amounts of sugars than cola drinks. One cup (200ml) of caffeine-free beverages contains around 22 to 28g of sugar which corresponds to 88 to 110 Kcal of energy. So, you should not consume such soft drinks.
What is the best-caffeinated drink in India?
Cola drinks are the most popular caffeinated drink in India. They are also commonly called black drinks. Among the most popular 3 black drinks have similar test, Thums up is the best because of the following reasons-
- They contain comparably less amount of sugar than Coca-cola and Pepsi. 100ml of Thumps up contains 9g of sugar whereas the same amount of Coca-cola and Pepsi contain 11g of sugar.
- Similarly, the calorie value of thumps up also slightly lower than the other 2 drinks. The calorie content of Thums up, Pepsi, and Coca-cola are 36 Kcal, 43 Kcal, and 44 Kcal respectively.
- All 3 above-mentioned drinks contain added flavoring and coloring substances, acidity regulators, and caffeine but do not contain any preservatives or stabilizers.
- They do not contain nutrients but Pepsi contains sodium (11mg per 100ml)
What are the worst caffeinated drinks in India?
The popular yellow soft drink is the worst caffeinated soft drink because –
- It contains higher amount of sugar (12.3 g/ 100ml) than cola drinks (9-11g/ 100ml).
- It has higher calorie value (49Kcal / 100ml) than other caffeinated cola drinks (36- 44Kcal / 100ml)
- It contains sodium (16 g/ 100ml) which is less or absent in other cola drinks (11 g/ 100ml).
- It contains stabilizers that are not added to other caffeinated soft drinks.
- It contains a preservative that is not added in other cola drinks.
What is the unhealthiest soft drink? Or, Which is the most harmful soft drink in India?
Detail reviewing of the composition and ingredient list of the nutrition label of several commercially available soft drinks suggested that the so called “fantastic” orange drinks are the worse soft drinks because-
- The sugar content of these soft drinks is higher than the other soft drinks reviewed. Intake of 100ml of orange drink supply 2.5 to 3 teaspoons (13.8g and 13g) of sugar.
- The calorie value of these orange-colored popular soft drinks ranges from 52 to 55 Kcal /100ml which is higher than that of colorless, caffeine-free drinks ranging from 44 to 48 Kcal / 100ml, and black-colored caffeinated drinks ranging from 36 to 44 Kcal / 100ml.
- Few orange drink contains sodium (14mg / 100ml)
- They contain acidity regulators, stabilizers, and added flavoring substances.
- Orange drinks contain synthetic food colors.
- They contain a preservative.
- They do not contain any nutrients except sodium.
What is the recommended sugar intake for adults and children?
WHO Guideline (2015) for sugar intake for adults and children recommended reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake throughout life. WHO also suggested a further reduction of the intake of free sugars to below 5% of total energy intake.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020) also suggested reducing the sugar intake to less than 10% of our daily calory intake. 
So, for a 2000Kcal standard diet, 200Kcal can be supplied through added sugars in a diet. Since, 1g of sugar (carbohydrate) supplies 4Kcal of energy, 50g (equivalent to 10 teaspoons) of sugar provides 200Kcal. 100ml coke contains 11g of sugar, so a single coke can (300ml) supplies 33g (6.5 teaspoons) of sugar, corresponding to 132Kcal of energy. So, we must think twice or thrice before taking any type of soft drink.
What are the other sources of sugar in our daily diet?
In our daily menu, added sugar is present in our diet, from breakfast to dinner. All types of processed foods contain appreciable amounts of sugar. The most common sources of added sugar include-
- Sugar sweetened carbonated beverages (soft drinks)
- Commercially available fruit juices
- Milk shakes
- Health drinks and energy drinks
- Hot drinks like tea and coffee
- Most instant breakfast cereals
- Sugar added to our daily cooking.
What are the adverse effects of soft drinks on our health?
Since soft drinks are loaded in sugar and acids (citric acid, malic acid, and phosphoric acid) with added preservatives, flavouring and colouring substances, excess intake of these beverages invite many chronic or acute health problems. 
The most common ten (10) adverse effects of regular soft drinks are-
1.Weight gain and Obesity
Several studies confirm that over-consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks causes excess calorie intake leading to weight gain and obesity. , , , 
2.Increased risk of gout
Consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks increases the risk of gout. 
3.Increased risk of renal stones
A detail scientific study (2013) confirms that soft drinks increase the risk of developing renal stones. 
4.Chronic Kidney Disease
Daily consumption of cola drinks increases the risk of chronic renal disease. Both regular colas,as well as sugar free colas, are associated with anincrease risk of chronic renal diseases.
Dental caries is a common, dental problem in children. Frequent intake of carbonated beverages increases the rates of dental caries in children. 
The high content of sugar and acids in soft drinks isresponsible for dental caries and tooth erosion. 
Soft drinks also cause dental erosion. Both regular soft drinks as well as diet (zero-calories) soft drinks are harmful to the teeth.
Dental erosion causes loss of tooth surfaces in children, adolescents, and adults resulting in teeth sensitivity as well as eating and drinking difficulties. Dental erosion also causes dissatisfying appearance.
6. Dangers of sugar-free soft drinks
Several types of artificial sweeteners are used to sweetened diet soft drinks without sugar. They are called sugar substitutes because they provide the sweetness of sugars without the added calories, thus reducing the risk for obesity.
Animal studies indicated that regular exposure to artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharine increased the risk of brain tumours and bladder cancer.
Excessive drinking of cola beverages is associated with the low bone mineral density of women.
8.Increase the risk of hypertension
Excess intake of soft drinks (both sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages) increase the risk of hypertension. 
9.Inadequate nutrient intake
soft drink intake is associated with lower intakes of milk, calcium, and other nutrients. These beverages increase the risk of several medical problems. 
10.Increases the Risk of Diabetes
A diet high in rapidly absorbed carbohydrates (sugars) in soft drinks increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. 
The high glycemic load (GL) of soft drinks leads to inflammation, insulin resistance, and impaired ß-cell function. 
What are the healthy alternatives to soft drinks?
There are several healthy alternatives to soft drinks. Home-made beverages are always better for your health than commercially available beverages because home-made recipes are freshly prepared and free from chemicals like preservatives, stabilizers, acidity regulators, added flavoring, and coloring substances. Moreover, they are made up of natural foods and thus contain certain useful nutrients.
List of Healthy Alternatives of Soft Drinks
- Fresh green coconut water
- Lemon water or nimbu pani made up of fresh lemon juice with honey and black salt.
- Sugar cane juice
- Bael Panna
- Aam panna
- Homemade lassi or buttermilk
- Home-made orange juice
- Home-made watermelon juice
- A glass of milk
Soft drinks are commercially available, sweetened, carbonated water with added acidity regulators, flavoring and coloring substances, stabilizers, and preservatives. Sugar is used as a sweetener in most beverages. In zero-calorie soft drinks, any other sweetener is added to replace the sugar. They do not contain any nutrients. They are just empty sources of calories. Excess consumption of soft drinks may cause excessive weight gain, obesity, nutritional deficiencies, and dental caries. Cola beverages contain caffeine which may cause caffeine-related health issues like sleeping abnormalities, lack of appetite, etc. Zero-calorie beverages are a better alternative to traditional soft drinks.