How Sweet Is It?

See How Much Sugar is in Soda, Juice, Sports Drinks, and Energy Drinks

The Nutrition Source has prepared a handy guide to the amount of sugar and calories in soda, juice, sports drinks, and other popular beverages, How Sweet Is It? The front of the guide graphically depicts the number of teaspoons of sugar found in various drinks. The back of the guide has a more comprehensive list of common beverages and their sugar and calorie content. The guide includes beverages that are sweetened with added sugars, as well as beverages that are naturally high in sugar, such as juice. It does not include “diet” drinks that are partly or entirely sweetened with artificial sweeteners or stevia (a natural calorie-free sweetener). As you review the guide, keep the following in mind:

  • The Nutrition Source and the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health do not endorse specific brands, and the inclusion of brand-name beverages on this list does not constitute an endorsement.
  • Drinks that fall in the red category should be drunk infrequently and sparingly, if at all. These beverages have much more than 12 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce serving, and some have upwards of 40 grams of sugar—equivalent to about 10 teaspoons of sugar—and 200 or more calories in a 12-ounce serving.
  • Drinks that fall in the yellow category have up to one gram of sugar per ounce, or 12 grams of sugar in 12 ounces. That’s about 70 percent less sugar than a typical soft drink.* If drunk in moderation, these slightly sweet drinks are much better choices than high-sugar drinks, but don’t overdo it. Think of them as an occasional treat, not a daily source of hydration. There are relatively few drinks on the market that fall into the yellow category—and we believe there’s a need for beverage manufacturers to offer more low-sugar options.
  • The best-choice beverages are those that fall in the green category—drinks that have little or no sugar added to them, such as water, sparkling water, coffee, or tea.
  • Beverage manufacturers may have reformulated their products since we prepared this list in April 2009, or may have come out with new products. So use the beverage manufacturer’s websites as the best source of information on drink nutrient content and new beverages.

*The yellow category on page 2 of this handout also includes a few beverages that have up to 14 grams of sugar per 12 ounces, because these drinks are very close to the 1 gram per ounce threshold and have much less sugar than a typical soft drink.

Learn how much sugar is in soda and other beverages:

  • Download How Sweet Is It? (Color PDF)
  • Download How Sweet Is It? (Black and white PDF)

How Sweet Is It?



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The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.