Is Crystal Light Healthy for Your Body?

There are many powdered drinks available in the market. Crystal light is popular among them. This drink is a light, fresh, and flavored drink. If you like this drink and drink it regularly, you might have a question. Is crystal light healthy? That’s what we’ll be talking about today. Keep on reading to find out.

What is Crystal Light?

Crystal light is among the many powdered drink mixes found today. It started its journey in the 1980s. General Foods was the first company to release it in 1982. However, that was only to test the markets. After getting a good review, in 1984, it was mass-produced and sold to the public.

However, the company is no longer functional now. So, Kraft Foods, the famous beverage company, now sells this line of products. This drink is so popular that it makes up 20 percent of all powdered beverages in the market.

Categories of Products

Crystal light has four main lines or categories of products. All of their products fall into these broad categories. They are

Classic

The company describes these as ‘low and no-calorie flavors with the classic crystal light deliciousness that you love.’ These are the regular powdered sweetened beverages that the company sells.

They have various flavors, including blackberry lemonade, multi-serve drink, raspberry lemonade, sugar-free pink lemonade, strawberry watermelon, banana orange, strawberry, classic orange sugar-free, cherry pomegranate, lime drink, and many more.

Is Crystal Light healthy for your body?

Pure

Crystal light pure is the newer line of product. It started its journey in 2010. This variety contains no artificial sweeteners. So, you won’t have to worry about those chemicals going into your body.

The company also claims that this variety has no artificial flavors or preservatives. So, they describe crystal light pure as ‘mixing up into pure low-calorie perfection.’

All of the flavor and sweetness come from all-natural ingredients, according to the company. The flavors available include strawberry kiwi, strawberry lemonade, grape, mixed berry, lemon, tropical blend, etc.

Tea

Crystal light iced tea powder is basically what it says. It is a simple iced tea mixture. However, it is flavored and sweetened. Moreover, it contains only five calories per servings with no added sugar. Their tea drinks contain real black tea. It will stop your concern about ‘is crystal light healthy?’

So, they can easily be the substitute for other drinks. Their varieties include multi-serve sugar-free raspberry tea drink, multi-serve sugar-free green tea raspberry tea drink, multi-serve pomegranate green tea drink mix, multi-serve sweet tea drink mix, multi-serve peach tea sugar-free, etc.

Caffeine

As the name suggests, this is the regular crystal light beverage with added caffeine. They add around 30 milligrams of caffeine to each serving. This isn’t exactly tea. It’s just the crystal fruit drink mixed with a bit of caffeine to give you that boost.

Their flavors include crystal light multi-serve citrus blend sugar-free with caffeine, crystal light multi-serve peach mango green tea with caffeine, etc.

Nutritional Information of Crystal Light

Now, let’s get down to business, the nutritional aspect of crystal light. The company boasts of having a low-calorie alternative to the popular sweetened beverages. This is true.

Each serving of crystal light contains only 5-15 calories. If we compare that to the other popular soft drinks, we’ll see that it’s pretty less. Every 8 ounces serving of coke/sprite contains about 95 calories. The other powdered beverages like Kool-aid, Tang, Foster Clarke contain around 70 calories per serving.

So, it’s no surprise that crystal light comes out on top. Because in comparison to these other drinks, crystal light contains very few calories. So, if you’re concerned about calories, crystal light is the way to go.

That being said, let’s take a look at the ingredients of this low-calorie drink.

Ingredients

Different flavors and categories of crystal light contain other ingredients. However, some of the ingredients are more common. Before you ask ’is crystal light healthy,’ let’s take a look at them.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is a weak organic acid. It is found naturally in citrus fruits like orange, clementine, lime, lemon, tangerine, etc. The naturally occurring citric acid is used in food industries for its various uses.

It increases the acidity and the tang of the food. Since its acidic, it also acts as a preservative. This acid can prevent the growth of many harmful bacteria. Citric acid also acts as a stabilizer and enhances the flavor of food. So, it is so widely used all over the world.

But what about the health risks? As you may have guessed, such a widely used material has almost no health risk. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so popular. However, very few people have shown an allergy to this preservative. But that’s not something you should be worried about.

Maltodextrin

This is another low-calorie food additive that improves the flavor, texture, and longevity of food. Manufacturers can produce this from any starch-containing food. However, they process it later on to make the final product.

Having a small amount of maltodextrin isn’t harmful. However, this additive has a higher glycemic index than glucose. It means that blood glucose spikes up rapidly. So, it poses a risk for diabetes, cholesterol, weight gain, and other chronic diseases.

Magnesium Oxide

This particular ingredient is found in most crystal light drinks. Magnesium oxide isn’t harmful to the body. Instead, it supplements magnesium for the body. So, it plays a positive role in the diet.

However, excessive amounts can have adverse effects like diarrhea, breathing problems, etc. But these effects are noticeable in substantial doses. You won’t have to worry about them, at least while drinking crystal light.

Sweeteners

Sweeteners are where things get a bit sketchy. Crystal light classic is known to have very few calories. So, they have to use artificial sweeteners to make it sweet. These low on calories artificial sweeteners aren’t good for the body. So, let’s see what they use:

is crystal light healthy

Aspartame

This is one of the chief sweeteners of crystal light. It is around two hundred times sweeter than sugar. So, you can understand that there’s very little of this compound in crystal light.

Aspartame is FDA, WHO and FAO approved. There have been countless reviews of this product. None of them were alarming enough to take it off the market. There are no safety concerns for the regular intake of aspartame.

But it is harmful to those who have a condition called phenylketonuria. This is a congenital disease arising from an enzyme deficiency.

There have been numerous claims by its opposition. The most prominent ones include cancer, seizure, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, etc. Some even claim that aspartame causes nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weight gain, depression, etc.

However, none of these have concrete scientific evidence. So, you shouldn’t worry too much about ‘is crystal light healthy’ if you’re taking this sweetener in moderate amounts.

Acesulfame Potassium

This is another artificial sweetener with no calories. It is also around two hundred times sweeter than glucose. This product, too, is safe in daily recommended amounts.

Acesulfame potassium has gained approval in the United States, United Kingdom, and other parts of the world. The numerous studies conducted show no risk associated with moderate intake.

There are some claims about this product being harmful. Some researchers suggest that it may be associated with cancer, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, etc. Scientific studies don’t back these.

Sucralose

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is six hundred times sweeter than sugar. It also supplies no extra calories. This is also free from the bitter after-taste of most artificial sweeteners.

This sweetener is FDA-approved. Numerous studies have shown that it is safe to consume. However, there has been some controversy. Some researchers claim that it may cause cancer, metabolic abnormalities, or harm to gut bacteria.

These claims aren’t backed by scientific evidence. However, like all sweeteners, there haven’t been any long-term studies.

Truvia

This is the sweetener in the crystal light pure. This is a sweetener based on the natural sweetener stevia. Truvia has minimal effect on blood sugar. It is also deemed much safer than other artificial sweeteners.

However, this sweetener is relatively new (2008). So, there are no long-term studies regarding possible side effects. The effect of this sweetener in pregnancy isn’t apparent either. So, it’s best to tread with caution.

Artificial Colors

Crystal light classic uses artificial colors. Red 5, Yellow 40, Blue 1, etc., are among the colors we can find in crystal light. These colors are all FDA-approved. However, some do believe that they are harmful. But their claims have little concrete scientific backings.

is crystal light healthy

That doesn’t change the fact that these coloring agents are artificial. So, this might raise a red flag for many people. But moderate consumption isn’t going to cause any long-term effect, according to most scientists.

Crystal light pure is better than crystal light in this aspect. Because it uses all-natural coloring ingredients. The artificial colors are entirely discarded in crystal light pure.

So, Is Crystal Light Healthy For You?

Let’s summarize the pros and cons of crystal light in terms of health effects:

Pros

Crystal light doesn’t contain any ingredients which are considered harmful. They do use some controversial sweeteners and colors. But they are all FDA approved. So, there are minimum risks of side effects in crystal light.

Moreover, it contains only 5-15 calories per serving. This is a negligible amount and 90% less than popular beverages. The sweeteners used also have a minimum effect on blood glucose. So, crystal light is keto and diabetic-friendly.

While serving so few calories, this beverage is quite sweet and tasty. So, you’re getting that refreshing flavor with almost no negative impacts on your health.

Cons

Crystal light can’t be considered ‘healthy’ because it contains almost no ingredient which has beneficial health effects. Most ingredients are just there to enhance the flavor and sweetness.

Moreover, some sweeteners and artificial flavors might raise red flags for some people. Although they are safe and approved, there have been few long-term studies. So, there is a chance that they might pose long-term effects.

Bottom line

If you’re interested in health benefits, then crystal light might not be suitable for you. Healthier alternatives to crystal light include green tea, coffee, herbal tea, black tea, natural fruit juices, etc. They offer the most health benefits.

If you want a sweet, refreshing drink that won’t give too much sugar, crystal light is the way to go. However, you have to ensure not to go overboard. After all, this contains artificial ingredients.

FAQs

Is drinking Crystal Light as good as drinking water?

Crystal light offers minimum calories, so it is better than other sweetened beverages. But it does contain artificial flavors and sweeteners. So, it’s not better than drinking water.

Can drinking too much crystal light be bad for you?

Yes, drinking too much crystal light can have harmful effects. It contains many artificial ingredients. These can cause short- and long-term health effects if consumed too much.

Does Crystal Light spike insulin?

No, the artificial sweeteners in crystal light don’t cause a spike in insulin. However, it can make you feel uncomfortable in case of excessive consumption. 

What is a healthy alternative to Crystal Light?

Healthier alternatives to crystal light include green tea, herbal tea, black tea, coffee, fresh fruit juices, etc. So, if you are not a big fan of crystal light but want to enjoy the sweetness, go for these alternatives.

Conclusion

Crystal light is low-calorie and refreshing. The ingredients it uses are relatively harmless. But is crystal light healthy? The answer is no. It doesn’t have any beneficial effects on the body. However, it isn’t harmful either.

SM Kamal Hasan

Dr. SM Kamal Hasan, MBBS(Medicine), Rangpur Medical College and Hospital Rangpur- Dinajpur Highway, Cantt, Near Central Jail, Rangpur 5400, Bangladesh

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