How much sugar is in that beverage?

Ever since watching That Sugar Film, I’m trying to be more aware of how much sugar I eat or drink every day.

Because there is more and more evidence that too much sugar is bad for us, we all need to be more aware of what we’re eating and drinking.

I think we need to be especially careful with beverages. The trend is to sell larger and larger cup sizes (a Double Gulp is a whopping 55 ounces!) and bottle sizes, so we are probably drinking way more sugar than we are eating it.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released a report that says 1 in 3 adults drinks one sweetened beverage every day (they didn’t ask about the size of that one drink).

Interestingly, the CDC also released a report that the death rates from heart disease, liver disease and Alzheimer’s are increasing. Hmm…

Soft drinks are blamed for the majority of excess sugar in our diets, but fruit juice or sports drinks can be loaded with sugar, too.

Nutritional experts are telling us to keep our sugar intake from all sources to under 10 teaspoons or 40 grams per day, or 10% of total calories.

A 12-oz can of regular Coke has 39 grams of sugar, or roughly 10 teaspoons (1 tsp = 4g). But we all know regular sodas are sugar bombs. And no one can be surprised that a Starbuck’s Grande Mocha Frappaccino has 50 grams, or almost 13 teaspoons of sugar.

What about drinks we consider relatively harmless or healthy?

For my own information, I did a little research.

  • 16-oz (Grande) Starbuck’s latte (my drink of choice): 17 grams/4.25 teaspoons
  • 20-oz bottle of Vitamin Water: 31 grams/7.75 teaspoons
  • 20-oz bottle Gatorade: 35 grams/8.75 teaspoons
  • 22-oz Jamba Juice Banana-Berry Smoothie: 81 grams/20.25 teaspoons (that’s about the same as a Dairy Queen medium Butterfinger Blizzard!)
  • 8-oz glass POM 100% pomegranate juice: 32 grams/8 teaspoons
  • 8-oz glass unsweetened apple juice: 24 grams/6 teaspoons
  • 8-oz glass cranberry juice: 30 grams/7.5 teaspoons
  • 8-oz glass 100% orange juice: 24 grams/6 teaspoons
  • 8-oz glass of Sunny D orange drink (5% juice): 27 grams/6.75 teaspoons
  • 8-oz glass lowfat milk: 13 grams/3.25 teaspoons
  • 8-oz glass lowfat chocolate milk: 25 grams/6.25 teaspoons

You can look up more beverages at Self Nutrition Data or Fast Food Nutrition.

Once you know to look for sugar on the labels, you can be more selective about what you drink, or choose reduced-sugar options.

Related post: Are artificial sweeteners bad for you?

Other than an occasional latte (I now opt for the 8-oz size), I like orange juice. But I dilute it with mineral water, so I only get half as much sugar.

There are arguments about the different types of sugar–sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose—and how they act differently in the body. There isn’t enough good evidence to support saying one kind of sugar is better or worse than another, however.

Usually the high-fructose corn syrup that is considered “worse for you” is found in less nutritious items that I try to avoid anyway.

So regardless whether the sugar is marketed as “natural”, look at the labels and aim for fewer than 40 grams or 10 teaspoons a day. At least more often than not  🙂

And children under age 8 should get no more than 4 teaspoons, according to the American Heart Association.


Frugal Nurse



How much sugar is in that beverage? — 1 Comment

  1. Importantly, the increase in calories in the U.S. diet is coming from food, not beverages. Also, as the federal government’s latest CDC report makes clear, beverage intake is declining. We concur that education can help people embrace healthy lifestyles – but this applies to our overall diet, not sugar-sweetened beverages alone. Via our Balance Calories Initiative, our industry is doing its part to encourage Americans to strike a better balance between what they eat, drink and do.