You may assume that iced tea should be a healthy soft drink by definition. How a glass of regular tea can be unhealthy? Well, some iced tea producers tend to add unnecessary food additives which can be potentially harmful. Others avoid usage of pesky food additives so that their beverages are less risky. Look at the DyeDiet risk diagram of Brisk Lemon Iced Tea manufactured by independent producers for the Pepsi/Lipton Tea Partnership:
DyeDiet Doesn’t Buy It!
As you see, the diagram is half-red (biologically foreign food additives, xenobiotic chemicals), it is largely yellow (friendly food additives) and just a little green (a few nutrients, food at last). What should you expect from this iced tea? Not a big surprise that you will get bad health risk of DDFI = 29/10 ~ 3 and miserable nutritional value of DDNF = 10/43 ~ 0.2. Of course it is unlikely that you are going to get sick after you drunk a bottle of Brisk Iced Tea but drinking it regularly may perhaps cause health problems.
- Red 40 azo dye and sodium benzoate are suspected to cause or aggravate ADHD and ADD syndromes (see Assessment of the results of the study by McCann et al. (2007) on the effect of some colours and sodium benzoate on children’s behaviour). Why to add food colorants to a real tea anyway?
- Nowadays caramel color is produced with help of ammonia at elevated temperature that creates carcinogenic 2- and 4-methylimidazoles (see California Lists 4-Methylimidazole as a Proposition 65 carcinogen) so that CSPI petitioned to ban the seemingly innocent coloring (see CSPI Caramel Coloring Petition);
- Calcium disodium EDTA is a chemical agent that binds a variety of metal ions. According to the Wikipedia, EDTA has been found to be both cytotoxic and weakly genotoxic in laboratory animals. Oral exposures have been noted to cause reproductive and developmental effects.
- While HFCS is a nutrient its abundance may lead to overconsumption (watch video). According to the Fox News, Kraft, Gatorade, Pepsi, Hunt’s, Heinz, Starbucks and Sara Lee have switched to sugar from HFCS in certain product lines, following requests from concerned consumers. Now the HFCS-free trend is starting to show up on restaurant menus.
Brisk Iced Tea has low caffeine of 14 mg and high sugar content of 55 g per bottle. I think this is essentially because of low tea content which they “compensate” by adding the two food colorants! All the above is in a good agreement with another recent review Brisk Offers Risk.
Now look at another Lipton Lemon Iced Tea also manufactured by mysterious independent producers for the Pepsi/Lipton Tea Partnership:
All ingredients are derived from natural sources
More than a half of the diagram is now green (nutrients!), the rest is yellow (two friendly food additives) and NO xenobiotic chemicals (no red segments!) at all. This is way better iced tea! You get ZERO foreign additive risk, DDFI = 0, and a descent nutritional value of DDNF = 11/8 ~ 1.4. I think it worth paying 50% more for a bottle. You also get more caffeine, 35 mg and less sugar, 33 g. I have no idea why the same manufacturers would brew unhealthy and healthy teas…
Stevia extract is a mixture of natural sweeteners that do not induce a glycemic response so that the extract may serve as a natural alternative for diabetic people and those who want to reduce sugar intake.
I hope this helps to make your informed free choice. Hydrate yourself right!