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Red Bull has caused quite a stir since it was first launched in the UK in the late nineties. It is one of those drinks that you either love or hate with a passion.
For those of you who don't know what it is, allow me to elaborate. Red Bull is much more than just a soft drink - it is an energy drink, rather like Lucozade. It was made for moments of increased physical and mental stress and claims to improve endurance, alertness, concentration and reaction speed, as well as to vitalize body and mind.
Red Bull was founded in 1984 by a man called Dietrich Mateschitz. He was inspired by a 'tonic drink' which he had seen on a trip to Asia in 1982. It was very popular and this incited him to come up with his own version of the drink. After much fine-tuning, he finally launched it on the Austrian market in 1987. Nowadays, Red Bull is supplied to over a 100 countries worldwide and more than a billion cans of Red Bull are consumed every year!
Whilst shopping recently, I came across the Sugarfree variety and decided to give it a try. It comes in a tall, aluminium can (250ml), with a distinct blue and silver front and 'Red Bull Sugarfree' emblazoned across the centre in red lettering. Just underneath this is the Red Bull emblem. It comprises a yellow blob with two red bulls on either side.
On the can, Red Bull Sugarfree is described as a caffeinated taurine drink with sweeteners. We all know that caffeine is a stimulant, but what on earth is taurine? I have done a bit of research and found out that it is an essential amino acid that your own body manufactures and you get from nature from meat and fish. It is linked to reducing high blood pressure, improving heart function, acting as an antioxidant, regulating calcium and potassium, and prevents abnormal blood clotting. As well as taurine, Red Bull contains vitamins B6, B12 and other colours and flavourings with some very strange names!
The smell of Red Bull is one which is not easy to describe. It has a slightly medicinal aroma but one which is pleasant and appeals directly to the senses. It is like sherbet but without the bitterness.
As for taste, it is sweet at first - a bit like cream soda - but has a slightly sour edge to it. You might be forgiven for thinking that because it is sugarfree it won't taste too sweet. But you would be wrong. In fact, I find it almost as sweet as the original Red Bull variety, so if you don't like sweet drinks, Red Bull Sugarfree is definitely one to avoid. Fortunately, I like the taste a lot, but it is the fizziness of the drink that I'm not so keen on. Okay, before you say it, I know it's meant to be carbonated, but I would prefer it to be less gassy or preferably still!
Despite the weird concoction of ingredients used in making Red Bull, the nutritional values are quite surprising. According to the can, there are only 3 calories per 100 ml of the drink, which is a lot less than I would have expected. 100ml also provides 0g of protein, carbohydrate, sugar, fat, fibre and only 0.08g of sodium! However, the amount of vitamins per 100ml is much higher: 8mg of niacin (44% of RDA), 2mg of Pantothenic acid (33% of RDA), 2mg of B6 (100% of RDA) and 2µg of B12 (200% of RDA).
But despite all these extra vitamins, does the drink really live up to its claim of vitalizing body and mind....? Personally speaking, I can't say that I've noticed a huge difference by drinking it, although this is probably because I don't tend to drink much at a time. I do feel, however, that even a small quantity of the drink gives you an energy boost and makes you feel more alert.
However, although drinking Red Bull might give you an energy boost, it is important to remember that it is not really intended as a recreational drink, and it should therefore be drunk in moderation. Red Bull Sugarfree contains 32mg of caffeine per 100ml, which is quite a high level. Too much caffeine is not good for you as it can cause sleeplessness and hyperactivity. For this reason, Red Bull is not recommended for children or anyone who is caffeine-sensitive. There is also the warning on the can that the drink contains a source of Phenylalanine, so anyone who is sensitive to this ingredient should not drink Red Bull, Sugarfree or otherwise. It is better news for vegetarians, however, because the sugarfree variety is suitable for them to drink.
Overall, I did not notice a huge difference between the sugarfree variety of Red Bull and the original kind. It is, however, very palatable and has a pleasant, if somewhat unusual taste. I would certainly buy it again, even though it is quite expensive at around 88p for a 250ml can.
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