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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Healthy Eating arrow Is Zevia Healthy? A Nutritionist's Perspective

Is Zevia Healthy? A Nutritionist's Perspective

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 12, 2023
9 min read 1567 Views 0 Comments
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Zevia soda is a popular beverage with flavors such as cola, cream soda, lemon-lime, and more. But is Zevia really healthy?

Is Zevia Healthy A Nutritionist’s Perspective

Zevia soda is a soft drink company selling zero-calorie soda with natural flavors sweetened with non-nutritive stevia. Stevia is a beloved sugar alternative praised for being sweet, zero-calorie, and natural.

Many wonder if this soda is healthier than regular soft drinks or diet sodas they can find on any grocery store’s shelf. 

Read on for a comprehensive breakdown of Zevia’s ingredients, nutritional information and side effects.

Is Zevia Healthy?

Zevia is considered a healthy soda alternative as it is sweetened with stevia instead of regular sugar or syrups. However, if you tend to experience gastrointestinal discomfort from large amounts of stevia, such as diarrhea or stomachaches, limit your consumption of Zevia beverages.

Is Zevia Healthy
Health Reporter edit

What Is Zevia? 

Zevia is a beverage brand that replaces traditional sugar or sweeteners in soft drinks, tea, and energy drinks with stevia, a natural sweetener. 

The company even has a “Zevia Kidz” line, a sparkling water drink. 

None of their products contain added or caramel colors, so the drinks are all clear except their tea line.

Many love this up-and-coming brand of drinks with appealing flavors such as black cherry cola, cream soda, and lemon lime twist. 

Zevia products are sold in some health food stores, such as Whole Foods and Fruitful Yield, but can also be found at Target. 

What Ingredients Does Zevia Contain? 

From the primary sweetener stevia to caffeine and more, let’s break down the main ingredients of Zevia products and their potential health benefits. 

Stevia leaf extract 

Zevia produces wide beverage varieties, but they are all sweetened entirely by stevia leaf extract. The primary ingredient is stevia, besides carbonated water.

Amazingly, stevia can be up to 300 times sweeter than regular sucrose, also known as table sugar or white sugar. Additionally, stevia is a sustainable sweetener as it is just as sweet as other natural sweeteners, but its production uses less water, land, and energy. 

World Health Organization specifies the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for stevia sweetener as 12 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Therefore, the appropriate amount of daily stevia consumption varies per person based on size.

Unfortunately, the Zevia website does not specify how many milligrams of stevia are in a can of their beverage. 

Natural flavors 

While the Zevia product website does not specify the natural flavors they use in their products, they do certify that their products are free of the Big 8 allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts), GMO’s, and MSG.

The term “natural flavors” is considered to be GRAS or Generally Recognized As Safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Citric acid 

Citric acid is a commonly used food additive that provides acidity and flavor to a product while also acting as a preservative to extend shelf life and stability.

Citric acid is considered GRAS by the FDA.

Tartaric acid 

Tartaric acid is a by-product of wine production and has an acidic taste. 

Similar to citric acid, tartaric acid is GRAS certified by the FDA

Caffeine 

Many of the Zevia products, including their sodas, contain caffeine.

However, they also offer caffeine-free cola and have some other varieties that are naturally free of caffeine, such as grapefruit citrus. 

A caffeinated Zevia soda, depending on the specific flavor, contains 38 to 55 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce can. This caffeine is extracted from coffee beans, according to the Zevia product website. 

On the other hand, Zevia also produces energy sodas that contain 120 milligrams of caffeine per 12 fluid ounce can. This caffeine is extracted from tea leaves.

Zevia also has a tea line with sweetened teas available in caffeinated or decaffeinated varieties. Their caffeinated teas contain 45 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce can.

Finally, they have Zevia Mixers and Zevia Kids beverages that are both caffeine-free. 

What Are the Possible Benefits of Zevia?

Zevia is not a health food, but there are some potential benefits.

#1 Low in calories and sugar

Zevia is a diet soda that is sweetened with stevia, a plant-based sweetener. This makes it a low-calorie alternative to traditional soda, with one can containing only 0 calories and 0 grams of sugar. This makes Zevia a great option for those who are trying to reduce their calorie or sugar intake.

#2 Offers caffeine-free options

Unlike many other popular sodas nowadays, some Zevia flavors don’t contain any caffeine. This makes it a great option for those who want to reduce their caffeine intake, or for those who simply don’t want the jittery side effects.

#3 No artificial sweeteners

Zevia does not contain any artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame or saccharin. This is beneficial for those who want to avoid these potentially harmful ingredients.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Zevia? 

While Zevia is considered GRAS by the FDA, there are still some potential side effects to consumption. Let’s discuss some of the most prevalent. 

#1 Gastrointestinal discomfort 

According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, some studies have found that individuals who consume stevia experience gastrointestinal symptoms, specifically nausea and bloating. 

This is similar to artificial sweeteners, such as sugar alcohol, found in some types of sugar-free drinks.

If you experience discomfort, either decrease your stevia consumption or eliminate it.

#2 May alter the gut microbiome 

A 2019 study in the journal Nutrients studied the effects of consuming stevia on the gut microbiota, even in low doses.

The gut microbiota, or microbiome, is the community of healthy (and unhealthy) bacteria that lives in the gastrointestinal tract. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance of the gut microbiome, can contribute to health conditions such as obesity, inflammation, high blood pressure, and more. 

The study utilized a population of rats to examine the effect of drinking water containing rebaudioside A, a form of stevia. 

Rebaudioside A consumption was found to alter the gut microbiome composition compared to a control group.

Therefore, more research needs to be done on the relationship between stevia intake and gut microbiota composition in humans to determine if there is an effect.

#3 Desensitizes sweet tastes

Since stevia is up to 300 times sweeter than regular table sugar, you can imagine that consuming regular sugar after consuming stevia would not taste as good as it typically does.

If you frequently consume stevia as an alternative to sugar, you may begin to not find sugar as sweet. Therefore, if you drink a sugar-sweetened beverage or dessert, you may consume more to be satisfied.

A 2017 Canadian Medical Association Journal study found that consuming non-nutritive sweeteners, such as stevia, may be associated with increased body mass index (BMI) and heart disease risk. 

More studies need to be conducted to examine the long-term effects of stevia consumption on weight and cardiometabolic health. 

#4 Stevia is not suitable for everyone

It is important to note that if you have an allergy to stevia, which is rare but does occur in some individuals, you should avoid Zevia altogether. 

Another field of concern is that there are minimal studies on non-nutritive sweeteners, such as stevia, and pregnancy. 

This is likely due to the ethical implications of performing scientific experiments on pregnant women and their offspring.

Therefore, speak with your physician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and want to consume stevia. 

Zevia Nutritional Facts 

Let’s dive into the nutritional information for 100 grams of Zevia soda using the Dr. Zevia flavor.  

Nutritional table (per 100g) 

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)Amount 
Calories (kcal)0
Net Carbs (g)0
Fats (Total)0
Sodium (mg)0
Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2117076/nutrients 

Zero calories 

From the sodas and energy drinks to the teas and the kid’s sparkling water, Zevia offers zero-calorie drinks. 

For reference, a can of Coca-Cola Coke product contains over 140 calories in a 12-ounce can.

Consuming excess calories, especially those of low nutritional value, can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, and more. Therefore, Zevia is a great zero-calorie soda alternative with health benefits for weight management and hydration (from carbonated water).

Zero fats 

Similar to traditional sodas, Zevia is fat-free. It does not contain harmful saturated fat, trans fat, or cholesterol that can contribute to chronic health conditions. 

Zero carbohydrates 

Unlike sugar-sweetened beverages, Zevia soda is sugar-free and is a brand of zero-calorie drinks. Therefore, it contains no carbohydrates and will not impact blood sugar.

Regular soda, energy drinks, and other sugary drinks contain simple carbohydrates that cause blood sugar spikes and contribute to weight gain.

Zevia soda is an excellent alternative to sugary drinks with health benefits as it will not cause weight gain or blood sugar fluctuations. 

Low in minerals and vitamins 

While low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates, Zevia is also low in nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. 

It does not provide any significant nutritional value. However, it is a source of carbonated water that can ensure adequate hydration, which is essential for body functioning.

Zevia vs. Coke Zero: Nutrition facts

Calories/Nutrient (per 100g)ZeviaCoca-Cola Zero
Calories (kcal)00
Net Carbs (g)00
Fats (Total)00
Sodium (mg)010 mg
Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/769178/nutrients

Unlike the stevia-sweetened Zevia soda, Coke Zero is a diet soda sweetened with artificial sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

While these artificial sweeteners are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA, many still are concerned about them, which often leads them to stevia-based sweeteners.

A 2009 study in the journal Diabetes Care found that daily diet soda consumption was associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. 

However, more research needs to be conducted to establish if diet soda consumption causes an increase in health risks. 

Zevia and Coke Zero are very low in nutrients, but Coke Zero contains a small amount of sodium and potassium. 

A Word From a Nutritionist

Zevia drinks can be a great alternative if you want a sweet and carbonated beverage to replace soda, energy drinks, or sugary iced teas.

Additionally, it is an excellent option if you are looking for a naturally-sweetened alternative to diet soda, which contains artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame.

However, according to Harvard Health, artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners such as stevia can desensitize us to sweetness, especially since they are much sweeter than actual table sugar.

Stevia-based beverages are an excellent carbonated-water-based soda alternative but should not replace regular fluids in your diet, such as water.

FAQs

Is Zevia suitable for diabetes?

Zevia soda is a good beverage option for diabetes because it is a zero-calorie and sugar-free alternative to soda. It can promote weight loss and weight maintenance.

Is Zevia bad for you?

No, Zevia drinks are good for you, especially when they are consumed in place of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, juice, lattes, and more. It contains zero calories and has stevia sweeteners.

Is Zevia soda safe to drink?

Zevia soda is safe to drink if you are not allergic to stevia leaf. Additionally, ask your physician about consuming stevia if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Does Zevia have aspartame?

No, Zevia does not contain aspartame. It doesn’t contain any sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Conclusion

Overall, Zevia is a healthy beverage that can replace your favorite traditional sodas.

It is a zero-calorie and zero-sugar beverage brand that is sweetened by stevia leaf extract. It also contains citric acid, tartaric acid, and natural flavors. 

Some Zevia varieties have caffeine, such as sodas, teas, and energy drinks, while others are decaf, such as sparkling water.

Stevia is a natural and sustainable sweetener that is considered safe to consume up to 12 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. However, avoid stevia if you have an allergy or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 12, 2023
9 min read 1567 Views 0 Comments
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