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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 4grams of sugar is about 1teaspoon. So, the 38grams 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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