Just how much sugar is in that drink?

There’s a lot of talk about sugar these days. It’s in the news and in films. We’re learning how sugar, not fat, is to blame for so many health issues. We’re hearing about how much we should and shouldn’t eat every day and when we’re supposed to cut ourselves off completely.

I found this PDF on sweet drinks from the Harvard School of Public Health.  It’s an easy way to see how much sugar is in one serving of each drink.

The red, yellow and green color-coding system is a simple way to learn what you should avoid and what is good for you.


You might be surprised by some of the reds, like 100% fruit juice and Vitamin water, clocking in at 10 and 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Yikes! Even sports drinks are coded with a red spoon. That means you should drink them sparingly; think of them more as dessert instead of a harmless beverage.


What are the recommended drinks?

  • Water is number 1!

Plain, natural, and unflavored water. If you tend to like flavored drinks, it can take a while to reorient yourself towards water, but it’s a process that is well worth the trouble. This is what your body craves and needs more than any other liquid.

  • Next up is seltzer water with a splash of flavor.*

You can buy this ready made, like Poland Spring with vanilla, or you can make this at home. Making your own gives you more control over what goes into your flavored seltzer. Cut up berries or lemons to have on hand for your water.

*Beware of “zero calorie” flavored seltzers: a lot of them have chemical sugars in place of natural juice.

  • And finally, homemade herbal and regular teas.

Remember that loading up homemade teas with sugar can land you in the place you’re trying to avoid, so use sparingly.

This graphic is a great resource, but only if you look at it regularly! If you’re someone who gravitates towards sweetened beverages, try printing it out and hanging it on your fridge as a reminder.

How Sweet Is It? Grams & Teaspoons of Sugar in 12 oz. Drinks