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Lemonade not always a better beverage option
Ask the Nutritionist
By Karen Collins | Columnist

Pitcher and glass of lemonade



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Published: 6/30/2010 12:00 AM

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

A. Lemonade options have expanded markedly in recent years. Regular lemonade is not necessarily any lower in calories than an equal portion of a regular carbonated soft drink. Lemonade from frozen concentrate and most powdered mixes contains about 100 calories in each eight-ounce portion, not surprising due to the approximately six-and-a-half teaspoons of sugar it contains.

Some powdered mixes, however, have less added sugar so they may be about 30 percent lower in calories. Of course, the mixes and "light" bottled ready-to-drink lemonades sweetened with zero-calorie sweeteners contain 10 or fewer calories, comparable to diet soft drinks.

Unlike soda, some lemonade options may contain from 10 to 100 percent of recommended daily vitamin C. In some cases this comes from the lemon juice content, in other cases, especially when high amounts of vitamin C are present, it's because of added vitamin C and is not a sign of actual fruit juice content.

If you're looking for a naturally low-calorie alternative to regular soda, consider ice tea (unsweetened or very lightly sweetened) instead. You may also see "lite" bottled lemonade-ice tea blends; 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.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research. More about the group and its New American Plate program at