Pepsi Special: Japan’s New Fat-Blocking Soda

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A curious variety of Pepsi has been released in Japan called “Pepsi Special,” a beverage that contains the fiber molecule known as “dextrin,” which has been sanctioned by the Japanese government as a health food.

Some claim dextrin prevents the digestive system from absorbing fat. Pepsi Special reportedly contains an indigestible form dextrin, which is used as a dietary fiber supplement and makes it difficult for the body to absorb fat while eating.

But as Foodbeast’s Charisma Madarang points out, there’s unsaturated and saturated fats, so a fat-blocking drink would theoretically block both the so-called good and bad fat.

And although the good/bad fat analogy is too simplistic — because it’s the imbalance between the two that is the issue — blocking both polyunsaturated fatty acids from entering your body would be unhealthy.

Omega-6 fatty acids are more abundant in a 21st century diet in developed countries where processed foods are dominant. Thus, omega-3 fatty acids are more sought-after as part of a healthy diet.

However, omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids should be balanced equally for optimum health. Andrew Weil, M.D. explains that both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids create hormones in our bodies which have opposite effects.

“Omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation, blood clotting, and cell proliferation, while those from omega-3 fatty acids decrease those functions. Both families of hormones must be in balance to maintain good health.”

But in North America and Europe where processed foods are prevalent, omega-6 fatty acids outnumber omega-3 fatty acids around 20:1. In Japan the ratio is 4:1, most likely because of their diet is high in fish.

Kotaku reports that Pepsi and Suntory have collaborated to make Pepsi Special a drink without the dextrin aftertaste.

Pepsi Special is not the first of its kind. Coca-Cola recently announced plans to release a Beauty Beverage, teaming up with Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company in Paris.

Pepsi Special is the newest addition to the Japanese soft drink market. The first and best known of the dextrin-based colas is Kirin Mets Cola, which has surpassed sales expectations since being introduced in April.

The Huffington Post claims the Japanese government certifies these colas as “food for specific health use.”

Their certification is partially based on a 2006 study by Junichi Nagata and Morio Saito of Japan’s National Institute of Health and Nutrition that indicated rats fed dextrin and fat at the same time absorbed less fat than those that ate fat without dextrin.

More on Dextrin

According to bobsredmill.com:

Like Maltodextrin, Dextrin is a starch, but with a slightly different function. In the US, it’s usually made from (GMO) corn, potato, arrowroot, rice or tapioca but, also like maltodextrin, wheat is sometimes used elsewhere (so those who don’t eat gluten, beware)!

“White dextrin” is the additive that is used as a binder to hold ingredients together or as a thickening agent (think cornstarch to thicken sauces). It can also be found in batters, coatings, and glazes.

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Spence Cooper
Inquisitive foodie with a professional investigative background and strong belief in the organic farm to table movement. Author of Bad Seeds: A FriendsEAT Guide to GMO's. Buy Now!
Spence Cooper

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