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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pearl E. Whites

What Drinks Have the Most Sugar?

Updated: May 21

The common belief is sugar causes cavities. In theory that is correct. An acidic environment is the true factor that induces cavities to grow and worsen, but sugar is a catalyst for cavities. The more frequently sugar coats teeth the more susceptible to cavities they are.

The average sugar consumption in 1980 was 4tsp/day; 2020 is 17 tsp/day

So what drinks contain the most sugar? Do sodas have the most sugar than any drink? What beverages are the best to drink?

Scroll to see how much sugar your favorite drink contains


In 1981 the average American consumed 4 tsp/sugar a day. Today the average man, woman, AND child consumes 17 tsp of sugar a day! The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at most 9 tsp of sugar per day for men and 6 tsp for women and children.

Recommended daily sugar consumption for men is 9tsp per day. For women and children 6 tsp/day

To compare apples-to-apples, the quantity of sugar in each drink was calculated as if each beverage were distributed the size of a regular soda can--12oz. Sugar is listed as how many sugar cubes (1tsp) are in each beverage.

All drinks compared to a 12oz soda can
 

KEY

9+ tsp Sugar Exceeds AHA Guidelines for Daily Sugar Consumption

6.1-9 tsp Sugar AHA Guideline for Men (Max 9 tsp/day)

0-6 tsp Sugar AHA Guideline for Women and Children (Max 6 tsp/day)

pH scale of drinks, sodas, juices, coffee, sports drinks, energy drinks, water
 

SPECIALTY DRINKS

pH scale of specialty drinks: coffee, tea, drinks bought at coffee stands or popular restaurants

Specialty drinks are beverages that are made to order. This is usually coffee, tea, smoothies, etc. We chose popular stores that are often frequented for their drinks. Below are the three MOST sugary drinks on the market that we could find based on the 12 oz scale.



Top 3 drinks that contain the most sugars that are specialty drinks


 

COFFEE

Starbucks frappuccino has the most sugar of store-bought coffees

TSP Coffee

 

ENERGY DRINKS

Energy drinks with the most sugar are No Fear and Rockstars

TSP Energy Drink

TSP Energy Drink

 

JUICE

Some juices have more sugar than sodas!

TSP Juice

7.6 Tang

Tsp Juice

 

MILK

Some chocolate milks have more sugar than Pepsi

Tsp Milk


 

SODA

How much sugar really is in soda. Included are a list of popular sodas and how much sugar they contain

Tsp Soda

9.8 Pepsi

Tsp Soda

**Soda is considered anything carbonated, sparking, or a seltzer

 

SPORTS DRINK

Tsp Sports Drink

 

TEA

Pure leaf Tea has the most sugar of the popular tea drinks sold in stores

Tsp Tea

 

WATER

**Assume all non-flavored or non-carbonated water has zero sugar

Tsp Water

 

OBSERVATIONS

  • Any drink labeled "Lite" or "Zero" has no sugar in the beverages. "Diet" has a miniscule amount of 1/2 tsp or less in a 12oz drink.

  • Soda is not the most sugary drink! Many juices are just as acidic AND sugary as soda.

  • Every sugary soda measured except for Hawaiian Punch and Izzy's has more than 6 tsps of sugar, which exceeds the maximum daily sugar amount for women and children.

  • Specialty drinks are DEFINITELY more sugary than most store-bought bottled drinks.

  • All drinks if flavored, carbonated, or even tailored for "diet" are acidic--usually cavity inducing--except water, some black tea, or regular milk (future article pending on acid beverages).

 

FINAL THOUGHT

Sugar has a neutral pH but when consumed it creates lactic acid and this aggressive acidity is a catalyst to getting cavities. When the mouth's pH falls below 5.5 pH, the anaerobic bacteria that cause cavities start eroding teeth and it can take 30 minutes to 2 hours before your mouth can start regenerating to fight against cavities. If you are constantly eating or sipping on drinks then your teeth do not have enough time to protect themselves from cavity-causing bacteria regardless if you brush your teeth twice a day. Drink wisely my friends.

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