Squirt is the best-selling grapefruit soda in the United States. Of course, that’s not saying much—grapefruit sodas aren’t very popular. But anyway, it’s pretty delicious. So today, let’s take a closer look at the nutrition of Squirt soda. How bad is Squirt for you, really?
Squirt soda is not very healthy because it has 38g of sugar per can (12 fl oz), in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Squirt also has sodium benzoate, which is a somewhat controversial preservative, as it can convert into a known carcinogen (benzene) under certain conditions.
Below, I’ll cover whether Squirt soda is fattening, whether it causes acne, how it compares to Sprite and other sodas, and more!
Is Squirt Good for You?
Here are the 11 specific questions I’ll be answering about Squirt nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Is Squirt Soda Made Of?
- How Much Sugar Is in Squirt?
- How Bad Is the High Fructose Corn Syrup in Squirt?
- Does Squirt Have Caffeine?
- Is Squirt Soda High in Sodium?
- Is the Sodium Benzoate in Squirt Harmful?
- Does Squirt Soda Make You Gain Weight?
- Does Squirt Soda Cause Acne?
- Is Squirt Better Than Sprite?
- Is It Bad to Drink Squirt Soda Every Day?
- Is Squirt Soda Vegan?
1. What Is Squirt Soda Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at what Squirt actually contains. There are a few different flavors, but most of the ingredients are the same. So let’s look at normal Squirt:
Squirt Ingredients: Carbonated Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains Less Than 2% Of: Grapefruit Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Modified Corn Starch, Ester Gum, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Calcium Disodium Edta (To Protect Flavor).
Here are my takeaway points on these ingredients:
- Squirt has high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Specifically, Squirt has 38g of sugar per can, in the form of HFCS. That’s not great. Even one can of Squirt puts you over the American Heart Association’s daily sugar limit. (Below, we’ll explore whether HFCS is worse than normal sugar or not.)
- Ruby Red Squirt has Red 40. This dye is controversial for causing possible hyperactivity in children, and for possible connections to cancer. You can read more on Red 40 here.
- Squirt contains grapefruit juice concentrate. Real fruit! This sounds like a good thing. But it’s really not enough to make a notable health difference. Squirt contains “less than 1% juice.” So don’t assume drinking Squirt is like eating whole grapefruits.
The biggest nutritional concern with Squirt for most people will be the sugar. So let’s look at the sugar content in the next two sections below.
- Does Squirt Have Alcohol in It? Squirt is a non-alcoholic soda. It does not have alcohol. However, some people may use Squirt as a mixer along with vodka, tequila, rum, or other alcoholic drinks.
- Does Squirt Have brominated Vegetable Oil? No, Squirt does not contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO).
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2. How Much Sugar Is in Squirt?
Squirt has 38 grams of sugar per can (12 fl oz). That is about the same amount as in Sprite, Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, or Monster Energy. Drinking just one can of Squirt puts you above the daily sugar limit recommended by the American Heart Association.
The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 25g of sugar per day for women and 36g per day for men. Even just one can of Squirt already puts you above that.
Keep in mind: No added sugar is needed for human health. Really, the healthiest diet would likely just have natural sugar from fruit and whole foods. So in a sense, any “added sugar” is already a negative.
Here’s a table showing how the sugar content of Squirt compares to other sugary drinks:
|Drink||Sugar (per 12 fl oz)|
|V8 Tomato Juice||10g|
|Simply Orange Juice||34g|
|Barq’s Root Beer||45g|
|Welch’s Grape Juice||52g|
As you can see, sodas like Squirt are among the most sugary drinks available. Squirt doesn’t have quite as much sugar as Mountain Dew or Barq’s—but it’s not far behind, either.
- How many teaspoons of sugar are in a Squirt? A 12 oz can of Squirt soda contains about 9.5 teaspoons of sugar. A 20 oz bottle of Squirt has almost 16 teaspoons of sugar.
3. How Bad Is the High Fructose Corn Syrup in Squirt?
Squirt is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). And HFCS has a pretty bad reputation… Many people think it is even worse than normal table sugar. But is it really?
Some research suggests HFCS may increase appetite and contribute to obesity more than regular sugar. However, other research contradicts this. Overall, it’s still unclear whether high fructose corn syrup is actually worse than normal sugar. (source)
But the real bottom line is this: Any high-sugar diet, whether it’s HFCS or normal sugar, can increase heart disease and obesity risk, while raising blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure. (source)
So, when it comes to Squirt, the real problem isn’t specifically the high fructose corn syrup… It’s just the amount of added sugar overall. Thirty-eight grams per can is a lot of sugar. And that doesn’t bode well for long-term health.
4. Does Squirt Have Caffeine?
Squirt soda does not have caffeine. It is not an energy drink. It is not advertised as providing caffeine, and none of the ingredients have caffeine naturally. Squirt should not keep you awake.
Caffeine is an interesting ingredient because it has documented health benefits, but it can also be bad in many cases. Studies show it may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. But it’s habit forming, and too much can disrupt sleep.
Therefore, I wouldn’t consider caffeine as simply “healthy” or “unhealthy.” It’s more complicated than that. It can likely be good or bad depending how it’s affecting your life specifically.
5. Is Squirt Soda High in Sodium?
Squirt has about 50mg of sodium per 12 oz can. This is only about 2% of the daily recommended limit of 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Therefore, Squirt is not very high in sodium.
Of course, if you drink Squirt all day, you could end up consuming at least several hundred milligrams of sodium from it. So, you should still be mindful if you’re trying to keep your sodium intake low.
6. Is the Sodium Benzoate in Squirt Harmful?
Sodium benzoate is a preservative used in Squirt. It is only present in small amounts. Sodium benzoate is limited by the FDA to make up only 0.1% of the weight of the foods it’s added to. Still, some people have concerns.
The biggest concern is that sodium benzoate is able to convert to benzene, a known carcinogen, in certain conditions. This has particularly been a concern in soft drinks where sodium benzoate is also present with ascorbic acid. (source)
(Side note: Squirt does not have ascorbic acid as an ingredient. So theoretically, there should not be any benzene in Squirt today.)
There was a study in 2005-07 showing that 10 out of 200 soft drinks tested contained more than the allowable levels of benzene (5 parts per billion).
Since then, the offending soft drinks have been reformulated to comply with allowable levels. But the study also showed ~60% of soft drinks had some measurable level of benzene.
The FDA has stated that the levels of benzene in soft drinks are not a risk. (source)
There have been some other concerning studies on the impacts of sodium benzoate in animals. It may raise levels of inflammation, oxidative stress, or even risk for ADHD (source). Some people also have allergic reactions to it.
The Environmental Working Group has assigned sodium benzoate a risk score of “1 to 3” on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the worst). So the overall risk is low.
Personally, after reading into all of this, I’m not that worried about the safety of sodium benzoate in Squirt. But personally, I’d still rather not consume it every day.
7. Does Squirt Soda Make You Gain Weight?
Squirt soda is high in calories—140 calories per 12 oz can—so it could contribute to weight gain. However, changes in bodyweight depend on overall calorie balance. So drinking Squirt in moderation will not automatically cause weight gain.
Many people misunderstand what actually causes fat gain. It isn’t generally 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 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 eat a small amount.
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 Squirt may indeed lead to weight gain: It has a lot of empty calories that don’t really fill you up much.
That is, when you drink Squirt, you’re getting a lot of calories, but not much satiation. And that can easily lead you to consuming more calories than you need for the day. And in turn, that can cause weight gain.
So, yes, there is a sense in which Squirt can cause weight gain, as many sugary drinks and sources of liquid calories do. But the actual key is your overall diet and calorie balance. One specific food doesn’t necessarily make or break your diet.
If your goal is weight loss, I would consider (A) tracking your calories, or (B) following some of these 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories. Whether you drink Squirt will not make or break your weight-loss journey by itself.
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8. Does Squirt Soda Cause Acne?
The relationship between diet and acne is still evolving. But increasingly, there is significant evidence that diet does play a major role in acne. And there are a few specific types of foods that are widely acknowledged as problematic.
One of the foods most strongly associated with acne is sugar. And as covered above, Squirt has a lot of sugar in each can (38 grams). This means Squirt will likely cause acne for some people.
For many acne sufferers, reducing acne is about stabilizing your blood-sugar levels. And often, that means minimizing or eliminating high-GI carbs like the sugar found in Squirt soda.
If you want to learn more, I wrote more about acne science and how to clear your acne in this big blog post. But suffice it to say—there’s a decent chance Squirt will be a negative for your skin.
9. Is Squirt Healthier Than Sprite?
Squirt is very similar to Sprite nutritionally. They have the same amount of sugar per can (38g). They also have pretty similar sodium content (50mg vs 60mg). And they both have the preservative sodium benzoate, and no artificial colors.
What about Squirt vs Mountain Dew, which is worse? Well, Squirt has about 8g less sugar per serving than Mountain Dew. Mountain Dew also has the artificial color Yellow 5, which may cause behavioral issues for some children. So, Squirt is likely a bit healthier.
But really, any of these sugar-loaded sodas are not the healthiest choice. For a healthier soda option, you can look at Zevia. It’s sweetened with stevia rather than sugar. Read my Zevia review here.
10. Is It Bad to Drink Squirt Soda Every Day?
Generally speaking, yes, it is bad to drink Squirt every day. Even drinking just one can of Squirt soda already puts you above the American Heart Association’s recommended daily sugar limit.
High-sugar diets lead to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, and more health problems. And if you drink even a can or two of Squirt, you’ve already entered into the realm of “high sugar.”
Now, technically, you could drink one sip of Squirt a day, and you could still be consuming a low-sugar diet. So, that would probably be fine. But who is really stopping after one sip? Let’s be realistic here.
The most sensible guideline would probably be to only drink Squirt and similar sodas on occasion. Don’t make it a daily habit.
- Is it OK to drink Squirt once in a while? Sure. For most people, your body can tolerate occasional spikes in sugar and empty calories like those in Squirt. What really causes most diet problems is the repeated consumption of unhealthy foods as a habit.
11. Is Squirt Soda Vegan?
Squirt is considered vegan. It has only six ingredients, none of which are derived from animals. In addition, Squirt Zero Sugar and other Squirt flavors are generally considered vegan.
Squirt is even more vegan-friendly than some other sugar-sweetened drinks. That’s because Squirt is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup—not cane sugar that may have been filtered with animal bone char.
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