For the health-conscious, soft drinks are one of the worst beverages to quench your thirst – but sometimes you just crave a refreshing glass of pop. On this episode of The Perfect Bite, host Andrea Jenna is joined by Jean Lamantia, a registered dietitian and bestselling author of The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide and Cookbook. They take a look at the best and worst soft drinks when it comes to sugar content.
While pop can be a tasty treat, there are many negative aspects. “Tooth decay, it’s linked to being overweight, diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” explains Jean. “There’s not a lot good to say about it.”
And what about diet drinks, which often are toted as a health-conscious alternative? “You don’t have the sugar with diet drinks,” Jean says. “But a lot of people are a little nervous about the artificial sweeteners, which is what you get with the diet drinks.”
But, if you do feel the need to indulge, we’ve rounded up the most and least sugary options.
Coca Cola (Second most-caffeinated option, 160 calories, 34.5 mg of caffeine, 42 grams/10 teaspoons of sugar)
“Lots of sugar, lots of carbonation,” Andrea notices after taking her first sip.
“I taste a caramel and kind of a vanilla flavour to it,” says Jean.
Coke is one of the two pops taste tested that has caffeine. It has 34.5 milligrams per serving, but was actually not the sugariest option of the bunch.
Canada Dry Ginger Ale (Least sugary option – 130 calories, 32 grams/7.6 teaspoons of sugar, no caffeine)
“This doesn’t feel as sweet as the coke,” Andrea says. “It’s obviously more carbonated. I don’t know about you but I always drink this when my tummy hurts or I don’t feel well – this is kind of what I go for.”
“It’s because of the folklore use of ginger as something to settle your stomach,” Jean explains.
If you’re looking for the least sugary pop to indulge in, this is it. One serving has 7.6 teaspoons of sugar.
Mountain Dew (Most sugary and most-caffeinated option – 170 calories, 51 mg caffeine, 46 grams/11 teaspoons of sugar)
While most people know that Coke has caffeine, the big surprise caffeine-wise was Mountain Dew. It not only had the most sugar at a whopping 11 teaspoons, but it also had the most caffeine, with 51 milligrams per serving.
“We eat with our eyes, and what I can say about that is that colour is really striking and artificial-looking,” Jean says.
“It is the sweetest by far,” comments Andrea. “Definitely. It’s just sugar and colouring.”
Sprite (140 calories, 38 grams/9 teaspoons of sugar)
“Actually the most amount of carbonation so far,” Andrea says.
This one seemed to hit the spot for our nutritionist, who found it to be the most thirst-quenching option.
A&W Root Beer (170 calories, 43 grams/10.2 teaspoons of sugar)
Andrea found this to be another mega-sweet option, similar to the sugar content of Mountain Dew. She thought this was the sweetest choice of the bunch, but Mountain Dew took that title.
However, Andrea wasn’t far off – the A&W Root Beer came in as the second most sugary option, with 10.2 teaspoons of sugar.
So, if you’re going to have a pop and are worried about the amount of sugar and caffeine you’re taking in, go for a Canada Dry Ginger Ale, but pass on the Mountain Dew.
Other tasty beverages to try
Aside from water, Jean recommends herbal teas and fruity teas, which she says are very popular at the moment. “Make one, put it in the fridge, and serve it over ice,” she advises. “It’s so delicious and has no calories but it has great flavour.” Herbal and fruit teas also include phytonutrients, natural chemicals
found in plant foods that help promote good health.
“Another good idea is to get a lemon or lime-flavoured Perrier and get that to dilute your favourite juice,” Jean suggests. Yum!
What is your go-to drink? Does sugar and caffeine impact the choices you make?