Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Healthy? 11 Things You Should Know

Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice healthy?

No, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice is not a healthy beverage option due to its high sugar content, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors.

Continue reading to find out more and check your knowledge!

Ingredients to be cautious about

  • Added sugar: Ocean Spray cranberry juice drinks, such as the Cranberry Juice Cocktail and Cran Apple, contain added sugar, which is associated with obesity and weight gain.
  • Artificial sweeteners: Ocean Spray Diet drinks contain artificial sweeteners, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, which may have negative impacts on gut health and can contribute to weight gain.
  • Artificial colors: Ocean Spray Diet drinks contain artificial colors, such as Red 40 and Blue 1, which have been linked to hyperactivity in children and may have carcinogenic properties.
  • Natural sugar content: Ocean Spray 100% Juice drinks, although made with real fruit juice, still contain high amounts of natural sugar, which can contribute to obesity and weight gain when consumed in excess.
  • Caloric content: Most Ocean Spray juice drinks, including the Cranberry Juice Cocktail, have high calorie content, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity when consumed in large quantities.

Possible short-term side effects

  • Obesity
  • Weight gain
  • Negative impacts on gut health
  • Hyperactivity in children
  • Carcinogenic properties

Possible long-term side effects

  • Obesity
  • Weight gain
  • Negative impacts on gut health
  • Hyperactivity in children
  • Possible carcinogenic properties


  • High in antioxidants
  • May help reduce inflammation
  • May prevent urinary tract infections
  • May prevent cavities

Healthy alternatives

  • Plain water
  • Unsweetened herbal tea
  • Freshly squeezed fruit juice
  • Green smoothie
  • Coconut water

Did you know...? 🤔

Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice healthy?

Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice contain added sugars?

Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice a good source of antioxidants?

Related videos

Cranberries are a healthy fruit, packed with antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation, prevent urinary tract infections, and even prevent cavities. But what about Ocean Spray cranberry juice? Does it come with the same benefits? Or is it mostly sugar?

Most flavors of Ocean Spray juice are not very healthy, as they are high in added sugar, with similar sugar content as soda. Ocean Spray Diet drinks have less sugar, but they have artificial sweeteners and colors that may worsen gut health. Ocean Spray 100% Juice may be healthy in moderation.

Below, I’ll cover whether Ocean Spray cranberry juice is fattening, how it compares to soda, and much more. We’ll be looking at all common flavors, including “100% Juice,” “Diet,” and “Light” Ocean Spray, too—not just the Original Cranberry Juice Cocktail.

Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Bad for You?

Here are the 10 specific questions I’ll be answering about Ocean Spray nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:

  1. What Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Made Of?
  2. How Much Sugar Do Ocean Spray Drinks Have?
  3. Is Ocean Spray “100% Juice” Healthy?
  4. Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Have Artificial Sweeteners?
  5. Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Have Caffeine?
  6. Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice High in Sodium?
  7. Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Make You Gain Weight?
  8. Are the Artificial Colors in Diet Ocean Spray Safe?
  9. Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Healthier Than Soda?
  10. Is It Bad to Drink Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Every Day?
  11. Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Vegan?

1. What Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Made Of?

There are many flavors of Ocean Spray cranberry juice. If you want to choose the healthiest kinds, you must pay attention to the details on the label.

Here are some of the common types of Ocean Spray, and what they’re made of:

  • Classic Juice Drinks: These include the original Cranberry Juice Cocktail, and basic flavors like Cran Apple. They have some real juice, but most of the sweetness comes from added sugar. Vegetable concentrates are used for coloring.
  • 100% Juice: These are made with only real juice—no added sugar, and no artificial sweeteners. Vegetable concentrates are used for coloring. These are mostly “natural,” but they are still high in natural sugar and calories.
  • Diet: These only have 5 calories per serving. They have some real juice and two artificial sweeteners, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. They also have artificial colors. These are the most “artificial” drinks, but also lowest in calories.
  • Light: These have 50 calories per serving. They have a mix of real juice, fructose, and the artificial sweetener sucralose. No artificial colors. These are kind of a half-way compromise between the “Diet” and Classic sweetened drinks.
  • Pure: These are pure 100% unsweetened cranberry juice (or other pure juices). No juice blend, no preservatives, no sweeteners or dyes at all. These are the simplest (just one ingredient) and maybe healthiest, depending on your goals.

As you can see, the nutrition of Ocean Spray drinks could differ a lot between these different product lines. Below, we’ll compare them all in terms of their sugar content and more. That way, you can choose the best Ocean Spray drink for you.

2. How Much Sugar Do Ocean Spray Drinks Have?

Most Ocean Spray drinks are high in sugar, with around 40g of sugar per 12 oz serving, about the same as soda. However, Ocean Spray Light only has about half as much sugar, while Ocean Spray Diet is nearly sugar free. Ocean Spray also sells a “100% Juice” line, with only natural fruit sugar.

Here’s a table showing how Ocean Spray drinks compare to other sugary drinks, in terms of total sugar. Ocean Spray drinks are bolded:

DrinkTotal Sugar (in 12 fl oz)
Ocean Spray Diet (Cran Grape)2g
V8 Tomato Juice10g
Ocean Spray Pure (Cranberry)14g
Vitamin Water15g
Ocean Spray Light (Cranberry & Grape)17g
Sunny D21g
Simply Orange Juice34g
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail38g
Ocean Spray Cran Apple39g
Dr Pepper39g
Monster Energy40g
Ocean Spray 100% Juice (Cran Pineapple)42g
Barq’s Root Beer45g
Mountain Dew46g
Welch’s Grape Juice52g
Sugar Content of Beverages (in 12 fl oz).
(Note: Some of these were extrapolated from smaller serving sizes, so they are not exact.)

As you can see, the amount of sugar depends a lot on which Ocean Spray drink you choose. The highest-sugar flavors have around the same sugar content as soda, while others are much lower.

But there’s an important follow-up question: What about “added sugar” vs “total sugar”? Most Ocean Spray drinks are sweetened primarily with added sugar. For example, the normal “Cran Apple” flavor has 26g of total sugar, and 23g of it is added sugar.

The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 25g of added sugar per day for women and 36g per day for men. So, just one 8 oz serving of Ocean Spray Cran-Apple would put you near the limit for women and about 2/3 of the limit for men.

But what about the “100% Juice” Ocean Spray flavors? What about their “natural sugar”? Let’s address whether those are healthy in the next section.

Related question:

  • Can you drink Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice on keto? Most Ocean Spray drinks are not keto friendly. Most are high in sugar, whether from added sugar or real fruit. The only real exception is the Ocean Spray “Diet” line. Those are low in carbs because they’re sweetened almost entirely with artificial sweeteners.

3. Is Ocean Spray “100% Juice” Healthy?

We’ve seen that most Ocean Spray drinks are high in sugar. But some Ocean Spray drinks have added sugar, while others have only real fruit sugar. So, are those “100% Juice” flavors healthy?

I remember as a kid, I thought of “100% juice” as really healthy. It’s made from real fruit, after all—and fruit is healthy, right? Well, yes. But unfortunately, drinking fruit juice is not completely the same as eating fruit.

There are two big downsides of drinking “100% juice,” compared to eating whole fruit:

  • 1. Juice doesn’t have the fiber of whole fruit. Fiber is very healthy, and it helps slow down your digestion of the natural sugars in fruit. But juices don’t have much, if any, fiber. So, the sugar in juice is digested more quickly, and it may spike your blood-sugar levels more than whole fruit.
  • 2. You can drink juice much faster than you can eat fruit. And this means you can drink many more calories of fruit juice than you’d typically eat from whole fruit. So juice can cause you to consume excess calories, potentially causing weight gain.

For these key reasons, Ocean Spray 100% Juice drinks should not be considered as healthy as eating whole fruit. That said, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are completely “unhealthy.”

Many of the real juices in Ocean Spray drinks are rich in antioxidants and vitamins that have health benefits. If you drink a small serving of Ocean Spray 100% Juice, along with fiber-rich whole foods, it could be pretty healthy.

And in fact, if you choose the “Pure” Unsweetened Cranberry Juice from Ocean Spray, it is relatively low in sugar. That’s because cranberry juice itself is naturally lower in sugar than grape juice and apple juice, which are used in many of Ocean Spray’s juice blends.

So, if you drink a small portion of Ocean Spray Pure Cranberry Juice, along with other healthy foods, it could be quite healthy, indeed.

4. Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Have Artificial Sweeteners?

Ocean Spray “Diet” drinks have two artificial sweeteners, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, combined with some real juice. Ocean Spray “Light” drinks have one artificial sweetener, sucralose, combined with fructose and some real juice.

Both of these artificial sweeteners in Ocean Spray drinks are FDA approved and generally recognized as safe. However, there remains some controversy around the long-term health impacts of each.

The most controversial artificial sweetener is probably aspartame. Personally, I avoid aspartame because of the research showing possible connections to depression. Ocean Spray drinks do not have aspartame.

So let’s look at the health concerns around the sweeteners in Ocean Spray Diet drinks—sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

First, let’s cover sucralose:

What about acesulfame potassium (also known as acesulfame K)?

  • Studies in the 1970s suggested acesulfame K may cause cancer—but the studies were not of good quality. (source)
  • One breakdown product of acesulfame K—acetoacetamide—may cause damage to the thyroid. (source)
  • In a study of lactating women, acesulfame K was the artificial sweetener most found to make its way into breast milk. (source)

Most of the health concerns around artificial sweeteners are not well proven. But for some people, the risk feels scary nonetheless.

There is still some uncertainty about how the human body reacts long-term to any artificial sweeteners. Here’s a video that covers more on the science around artificial sweeteners.

5. Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Have Caffeine?

Ocean Spray’s normal cranberry juice does not have caffeine. However, Ocean Spray’s Cran-Energy product line has 75mg of caffeine per 10 oz bottle, from added green tea extract.

How does Cran Energy’s caffeine compare to coffee, energy drinks, and popular soda brands? Here is a comparison table:

Bang Energy Drink (16 oz)300 mg
5-Hour Energy Regular Strength (1.9 oz)200 mg
Folger’s Classic Roast Coffee (12 oz)120-160 mg
Red-Bull (8.4 oz)80 mg
Monster Energy (8 oz)80 mg
V8 Energy (8 oz)80 mg
Ocean Spray Cran Energy (10 oz)75 mg
MiO Energy (1 squeeze)60 mg
Lipton Black Tea (1 bag, brewed)55 mg
Coca-Cola (12 oz)34 mg
Barq’s Root Beer (12 oz)22 mg
Caffeine Content: Comparison Chart. (Source.)

As you can see, Cran Energy has moderate caffeine, around the middle of the list. It has slightly lower caffeine content than Monster Energy or V8 Energy, with a slightly bigger serving size to achieve it.

But other Ocean Spray juices should not keep you awake. There is no caffeine in Ocean Spray’s normal cranberry juice, Diet and Light juices, or Sparkling product line.

6. Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice High in Sodium?

Most flavors of Ocean Spray cranberry juice have between 15mg and 45mg of sodium per 8 oz serving. That is less than 2% of the daily recommended limit of 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Therefore, Ocean Spray cranberry juice is not very high in sodium.

If you drank Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice all day, you could end up consuming a few hundred milligrams of sodium from it. But that would still likely be okay for most people.

If you want to choose the lowest sodium flavor, consider the original Cranberry Juice Cocktail, with only 5mg per serving. Or choose Pure Unsweetened Cranberry Juice with 15mg of sodium—it still has less than 1% of most people’s daily sodium limit, and no added sugar.

7. Does Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Make You Gain Weight?

Most Ocean Spray drinks are high in sugar and calories, so they could contribute to weight gain. However, changes in bodyweight depend on overall calorie balance. Drinking Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice in moderation will not automatically cause weight gain.

Many people misunderstand what actually causes fat gain. It isn’t typically caused by eating a specific unhealthy food. Fat gain is a result of consuming more calories than you burn overall. The overall quantity of calories is what’s important.

For example, it’s possible to gain fat from healthy foods—if you eat very large portions and don’t exercise. In the same way, it’s been proven that you can lose weight by eating McDonald’s, if you only eat small amounts.

So, there’s a sense in which no specific food is “fattening.” Only overall diets can be fattening. However, there’s another sense in which Ocean Spray drinks could lead to weight gain: They simply has a decent amount of empty liquid calories, which don’t really fill you up.

That is, when you drink Ocean Spray cranberry juice, you’re typically getting calories without much satiation. And that can lead you to drinking more calories than you need. And in turn, that can cause weight gain.

So, yes, there is a sense in which Ocean Spray cranberry juice could cause weight gain. But the actual key is your overall diet and calorie balance. One specific food doesn’t necessarily make or break your diet.

Ocean Spray’s “Diet” drinks may be a better choice for weight loss, as they are much lower in calories. However, as noted above, some studies show artificial sweeteners don’t result in the weight loss you might expect. So, don’t expect it to be a magic solution.

If your goal is weight loss, I would consider (A) tracking your calories precisely, or (B) following some of these 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories. Whether you drink Ocean Spray cranberry juice will not make or break your weight-loss journey by itself.

Does nutrition ever seem confusing? It doesn’t have to be. Learn how simple (and delicious) healthy eating can be in the FREE Food for Health Masterclass. This 1-hour presentation makes things clear—finally. Click here to reserve your free spot!

8. Are the Artificial Colors in Diet Ocean Spray Safe?

Ocean Spray Diet drinks have artificial colors like Red 40 and Blue 1. Research suggests these artificial colors cause hyperactivity and behavioral issues in some children. There are also concerns around possible carcinogens in the artificial colors in Ocean Spray Diet drinks.

Some research has suggested as little as 50 mg per day of artificial colors could cause behavioral changes in children. In fact, the EU requires foods with Red 40 to have a warning saying it “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

In 2004, researchers from Harvard and Columbia University estimated that removing artificial food coloring from the diets of children with ADHD would be about one-third or one-half as effective as treating them with Ritalin.

There may also be cancer risks from some of these artificial colors, but the evidence is not solid:

  • Red 40: Red 40 has small amounts of benzidene, which is a known carcinogen. It’s legally allowed because the amount is small enough to have no presumed effect.
  • Blue 1: An unpublished study on Blue 1 suggested that it may cause tumors in mice. In addition, a test-tube study found that Blue 1 inhibited nerve cell development. So the effect on unborn fetuses may be of concern. (source)

All artificial colors are still being tested on animals to determine their safety. The most established problem is hyperactivity in kids.

From what I could tell, the only Ocean Spray product line with artificial colors is the “Diet” products with 5 calories per serving. All other Ocean Spray drinks I checked had natural coloring from vegetable concentrates, or no coloring at all listed in the ingredients.

9. Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Healthier Than Soda?

Generally speaking, Ocean Spray cranberry juice is healthier than soda, at least a bit. But it depends on the specifics. Let’s start by comparing Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail to the most popular soda in the world, Coca-Cola.

First, let’s look at some basic nutrition facts:

DrinkCaloriesTotal SugarsSodium
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail11025g5mg
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cockail vs Coke (per 8 fl oz)

In an 8 oz serving, Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice and Coca-Cola have similar sugar content, and the Ocean Spray has even more calories. Most of the sugar in Ocean Spray comes from added sugar, while all the Coke calories are from added sugar.

Ocean Spray is lower in sodium, but that’s only a minor benefit—neither drink is dangerously high in sodium to begin with.

When you look at the other ingredients, Coca-Cola does have a few extra bad ingredients—phosphoric acid and caramel color. Meanwhile, Ocean Spray has some antioxidants from the real fruit and vegetable juice concentrates.

Ocean Spray is a bit healthier than Coca-Cola overall, due to the healthy antioxidants from real juice in Ocean Spray, and the potentially harmful caramel color and phosphoric acid in Coke. But neither Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail nor Coke are healthy drinks overall—they are both too high in sugar.

If you want to compare other Ocean Spray drinks with other sodas, the comparison may look different. For example, what about comparing Ocean Spray Diet drinks to diet sodas like Fresca?

When looking at Ocean Spray Diet drinks vs Fresca, the main issue with both is that they have artificial sweeteners that may worsen gut health or lead to other long-term health risks (covered above). Ocean Spray has the advantage of containing some antioxidants from real fruit juice, as well, though. So, probably Ocean Spray is better.

10. Is It Bad to Drink Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Every Day?

Generally, it is not healthy to drink a lot of Ocean Spray every day. Most flavors are high in sugar, which could lead to weight gain. The Diet flavors also have highly processed ingredients like artificial sweeteners and colors. Especially if Ocean Spray is part of an overall high-sugar diet, it’s not healthy.

High-sugar diets lead to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, and more health problems. And if you drink even two servings of most Ocean Spray drinks, you’ve already entered into the realm of “high sugar.”

So, side effects of drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice every day could potentially include cavities, weight gain, blood-sugar spikes leading to acne and other issues, and more—all from the sugar.

There are also potential behavioral effects of the artificial colors in the Diet product line—and the potential increased cancer risks from artificial sweeteners and colors if you drink Ocean Spray’s Diet drinks.

If you only drink a small serving of the “100% Juice” or “Pure” flavors daily, that may be fine. The antioxidants could be beneficial, and a small serving size could keep the sugar within reasonable limits. To lessen the blood-sugar spike, you could also drink it while eating some fiber-rich, protein-rich, and/or fat-rich whole foods.

11. Is Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Vegan?

Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice is generally considered vegan. It contains no milk, egg, meat, honey, or other animal ingredients.

However, the added sugar in Ocean Spray may have been filtered with animal bone char, as is common for non-organic cane sugar. Therefore, the most strictly vegan flavors would probably be the “Pure” or “100% Juice” products—not the drinks with added sugar.

Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey

1. This is the best free video training I’ve found on plant-based nutrition. You’ll learn how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity—all with plant-based food. Watch the free “Food for Health Masterclass” here.

2. This is the best vegan multivitamin I’ve found in my 14 years of being vegan. It has vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3—and nothing else. Translation: It only has the nutrients vegans are actually low in. Read my full review of Future Kind’s multivitamin here (with 10% discount).