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Guess How Much Sugar is in a Can of Soda

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Updated February 11, 2014

soda can
Gina Lee

Sweetened sodas have a lot of calories due to the high sugar content (except for diet sodas - they're sugar-free).

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database, a 12-ounce can of cola has 33 grams of sugar and about 136 calories (doesn't matter if it's Coca-Cola, Pepsi or any other brand). That's roughly equivalent to eight teaspoons of granulated white sugar.

Eight teaspoons of sugar sounds like a lot, right? It is. A typical 16-ounce bottle of soda has 44 grams sugar, or about 11 teaspoons. Interestingly, the USDA notes that retail soda (the stuff you buy in the can at the store) has more sugar than the fountain soda you get from fast food restaurants (they're served with ice that takes up some space in the cup).

Here's the sugar and calorie content for a cup of soda from a typical fountain:

  • 12-ounce cup (child size): 23 grams sugar and 95 calories
  • 16-ounce cup (small): 31 grams sugar and 128 calories
  • 21-ounce cup (medium): 44 grams sugar and 180 calories
  • 32-ounce cup (large): 65 grams sugar and 267 calories

The sugar and calorie count for soda is going to be about the same for any other sweetened soft drink. There isn't any other nutritional value, other than water, and a little phosphorus and fluoride.

Comparisons

One 12-ounce can of soda has as much sugar as:
  • three servings of Frosted Flakes breakfast cereal
  • one slice of pecan pie
  • one cup of chocolate ice cream

Drinking an occasional can of soda probably won't hurt, as long as you keep your daily calorie-count in line, but if you want to cut back on your soda consumption, try these drinks. They're not calorie-free, but since they're made with fresh fruits, they've got vitamins and minerals that sodas don't have:

Sources:

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 24. "Nutrient data for 14400, Carbonated beverage, cola, contains caffeine." Accessed June 25, 2012. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4337.

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 24. "Nutrient data for 18324, Pie, pecan, commercially prepared." Accessed June 25, 2012. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/5667.

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 24. "Nutrient data for 19270, Ice creams, chocolate." Accessed June 25, 2012. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6118.

 

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