Pop, Ice Tea or Fruit Juice; What is Healthier?

What is Healthier? Here is a question I get many times from clients and people who are just wondering; What is healthier,

  • pop
  • ice tea
  • juice

Most of the time the question is more tricky as they would like to know about pop with sugar or the diet kind. So here is my answer.

If you are going to drink pop regardless, then take the normal pop. Diet pop is artificially sweetened and that is a sweetener that your body does not know. It has no idea what it is and still has to deal with it. Sugar on the other hand is more natural and since we are wired to eat and drink food that is found in nature, this is actually a no-brainer when you really think about it. So that is how I answer the pop question.

Then back to the above asked question; Let’s look at pop first

As an example I have taken a look at Sprite. The ingredient list shows;  “Carbonated water, high fructose  corn syrup and/or sucrose,  citric acid, natural flavors, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate (to protect taste)”. Looking just at the sugar amount (they are mentioned as a second ingredient of the list) there is 38 grams of sugar in a 12 oz/355 ml can.

Now to compare correctly I will take 8 oz/236 ml as a measure, which leaves us with 26 grams of sugar. That is 6 1/2 tsp of sugar in one drink. However you probably will actually drink the whole 12 oz/355 ml can and have therefore 38 grams which is 9 1/2 tsp of sugar from one beverage. Wow.

So what about Ice Tea As an example we are looking at Nestea lemon Ice Tea. The ingredients are as follows: Water, sugar, citric acid, Lemon juice juice from concentrate (0.1%), tea extract (0.1%), flavourings, acidity regulator (sodium citrate), antioxidant (ascorbic acid).

Again the sugar is mentioned second so by weight there is more sugar than lemon juice for instant or than tea extract. As a matter of fact, the amount of sugar in 8 oz/236 ml is 22 grams, which is 5 1/2 tsp. It is less than the same amount of Sprite, but not by that much.

Okay, let’s look at juice. Most people will tell me that juice is of course much healthier since it is made from fruit and the industry will tell you that a cup of juice will count for a fruit serving.

Let’s look at that a little closer. Take orange juice as an example. One brand (Tropicana)will tell you that there are 16 oranges in their 1 ltr packs. So each 8 oz/236 ml is the equivalent of 4 oranges. 8 oz/236 ml of Tropicana orange juice will set you back 22 grams of sugar, which is again 5 1/2 tsp of sugar. The same amount as that of the above mentioned Ice Tea. Ouch.

“But”, will you say: “If I take 100% freshly squeezed juice I still will get all the nutrients that are in a fruit”.

Let’s look at that a little closer as well. The juice gets squeezed once a year when the fruit is ripe. Then goes into a large oxygen depleted holding tank where it will stay until it goes into the packs we buy at the store. As it sits in those tanks we lose flavour and so, before the juice makes it into that package, the manufacturer adds a “flavour pack” to the juice to bring back the flavour we like. They don’t have to mention that and so our 100% pure, freshly squeezed juice is not as fresh and 100% pure as we think it is.

In the meantime, the nutrients that are still left will diminish. The orange juice you drink is far removed from what you think about is freshly squeezed orange juice.

Check out the following CBC Martketplace episode to see what they actually do to the juice we drink  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8e4CEm9yybo. It takes about 22 minutes of your time, but it is an eye opener

If you like oranges, my suggestion is to eat one and not drink one (or 4). The flavour is better, the nutrients are alive and available and you will have a lot less sugar to deal with.

So which is healthier to drink? Actually none of them.

My suggestion? Drink water and eat your fruit. If you don’t like water, flavour it with some lemon slices, orange slices, take some cucumber or celery, add some berries etc. Let the water with the fruit/vegetables stand for a little while to steep and you have a great drink which is healthy, low in sugar and quenches your thirst.

Or make your own ice tea by making tea and adding some freshly squeezed lemon juice and if you need to, some sugar or honey. I bet you will not need 5 1/2 tsp in that :)

Something to think about: If you drink pop, ice tea or fruit juice on a daily basis you will take in 35,040 calories from sugar in one year just from that. That is just about 9 kg of sugar. If you would choose to leave out that one drink per day and replace it with water, making no other changes, you could lose up to 10 lbs of body weight. How cool is that.

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