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Ask Tufts Experts October 2017 Issue

Is Lemon-Lime Soda Bad for You?

A reader wonders whether lemon-lime flavored soft drinks should be avoided due to their sugar content. Is lemon-lime soda really that bad?

[Updated April 30, 2018]

Q: Does lemon-lime soda count as one of the sugar-sweetened beverages we're advised to limit? Lemon-lime makes it sound a little healthier.

Paul Jacques, DSc, director of Tufts' HNRCA Nutritional Epidemiology Program, answers:

A: "Yes, lemon-lime soda sweetened with any caloric, refined sweetener (like high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar) is a sugar-sweetened beverage and should be limited or avoided. There's a lot of observational research showing sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with metabolic diseases like heart disease, abdominal obesity and fatty liver.

"To help put the added sugars in soda into perspective, consider that 4 grams of sugar is about 1 teaspoon. So, the 38 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce can of lemon-lime soda equals 9˝ teaspoons sugar. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise limiting added sugars to less than 10% of daily calories. So, for example, a female needing 1,600 calories a day should limit added sugars to less than 40 grams (10 teaspoons) a day.

"Lastly, despite the splash of lemon-lime flavor in the product description, the drink has no nutritional value but about 150 calories per can."

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