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AICR Health Talk

Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Is lemonade a lower-calorie alternative to regular soda?

A: Despite its healthier image, regular lemonade is not necessarily any lower in calories than an equal portion of a regular carbonated soft drink. Whether ready-to-drink or made at home from frozen concentrate or a powdered mix, most lemonade contains about 100 to 120 calories in each eight-ounce portion. This is not surprising since that eight-ounce drink contains the same amount of added sugar as a regular soda. Some powdered mixes have less added sugar, making them about thirty percent lower in calories. Other mixes and “light” bottled ready-to-drink lemonades are sweetened with zero-calorie sweeteners and contain ten or fewer calories, comparable to diet soft drinks.

You may also see ”lite” bottled lemonade-ice tea blends. In these, calorie content is reduced compared to regular soft drinks, but some bottles are large enough that the calorie information listed pertains to just a third or half of the bottle. For any of these sugar-containing beverages, finishing a large bottle or drinking glass after glass on a hot day can make calorie and sugar consumption add up quickly.

Unlike soda, some lemonade options may contain from 10 to 100 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin C. This is often because of added vitamin C and is not necessarily a sign of actual fruit juice content. 

If you’re looking for a naturally low-calorie alternative to regular soda, try adding a few splashes of lemon or other juice to plain club soda or seltzer. Or consider ice tea (unsweetened or very lightly sweetened) instead.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF).

Published on 06/27/2016

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