My last “Food for Thought” column noted that elderly women may keep their wits longer by drinking lots of caffeine. In that study, the women derived their caffeine from coffee and tea. A new study offers some guidance for Golden Girls who eschew the standard caffeinated brews but still want to reap some benefit from the stimulant. Many soft drinks contain caffeine, but how much of a jolt they deliver is seldom printed on the label.
Enter two food scientists from Auburn (Ala.) University. In the August Journal of Food Science, they report just how much caffeine they measured in a host of carbonated beverages. The researchers provide data on 74 colas, 28 Dr. Pepper or similar-tasting beverages, 26 citrus-flavored soft drinks, and another 5 miscellaneous drinks. Most of the drinks were nationally marketed brands, but the Auburn team included 41 store-brand soft drinks.
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Although colas have a reputation for their nerve-jolting caffeine, citrus-flavored drinks actually offered substantially more of the stimulant. Diet and regular colas typically delivered 30 to 34 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce (0.35-liter) serving, whereas regular and diet citrus drinks provided an average of 50 and 55 mg, respectively. The soft drinks richest in caffeine in the entire survey were both citrus beverages: Vault Zero at 74 mg per serving and Diet SunDrop at 71.5 mg.
Caffeine values varied widely between drinks—even within a type—observe Leonard Bell and his former Auburn colleague Ken-Hong. Chou. Because few soft drink labels report how much caffeine a beverage contains, the researchers recommend that manufacturers start reporting—and posting—these values prominently so that consumers can look for drinks that will offer the amount of caffeine they seek.
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To see how your favorites stack up, check the tables below:
|National Brand Cola||Caffeine (mg/12 oz)|
|Diet Coke with Lime||46.3|
|Diet Vanilla Coke||44.5|
|Diet Cherry Pepsi||40.5|
|Pepsi with Lime||38.4|
|Diet Vanilla Pepsi||38.1|
|Diet Coke Black Cherry Vanilla||36.8|
|Diet Pepsi with Lime||36.4|
|Coca-Cola Black Cherry Vanilla||35.1|
|Diet Cherry Coke||35.0|
|Diet Coke with Splenda||34.4|
|Coke with Lime||33.6|
|Red Rock Cola||26.1|
|Private/Store Brand Cola||Caffeine (mg/12 oz)|
|Big Fizz Cola||46.4|
|Big K Cherry Cola||43.0|
|Big K Cola||38.8|
|Big Gulp Cola||38.0|
|Chek Vanilla Cola||36.3|
|Big K Cola with Lime||30.3|
|Clover Valley Cola||28.8|
|Chek Cherry Cola||26.3|
|Food Lion Cola||25.3|
|Laura Lynn Cola||24.4|
|Piggly Wiggly Cola||12.7|
|Publix Cherry Cola||12.4|
|Laura Lynn Cherry Cola||8.4|
|Chek Mate Diet Cola||26.2|
|Chek Diet Cola with Lime||45.8|
|“Pepper” style drinks||Caffeine (mg/12 oz)|
|Diet Dr Pepper||44.1|
|Diet Dr Pepper Berries & Cream||42.0|
|Diet Dr. Wham||41.9|
|Dr Pepper Berries & Cream||41.1|
|Dr. Pepper Diet Cherry Vanilla||40.1|
|Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla||39.4|
|Diet Dr Pop||56.8|
|Diet Dr K||40.7|
|Diet Dr Bob||30.9|
|Diet Dr Thunder||29.9|
|Diet Dr Chek||22.3|
|Diet Dr Lynn||18.2|
|Other soft drinks||Caffeine (mg/12 oz)|
|Diet Mountain Dew Code Red||55.4|
|Diet Mountain Dew||55.2|
|Mountain Dew Code Red||54.3|
|Faygo Moon Mist||19.7|
|Chek Kountry Mist||55.1|
|IGA Spring Mist||54.2|
|Publix Citrus Hite||54.1|
|Chek Red Alert||53.2|
|Clover Valley Citrus Drop||52.0|
|Sam’s Mountain Lightning||46.5|
|Chek Diet Kountry Mist||46.3|
|Laura Lynn Mt. Moon Drops||27.5|
|Big K Citrus Drop||26.2|
|Big K Diet Citrus Drop||25.1|
|A & W Cream Soda||28.6|
|Barq’s Root Beer||22.4|
All tables adapted from Chou and Bell, Jrnl. Food Sci. Vol. 72, No. 6.