Is Sunny D a healthy choice?
No, Sunny D is not a healthy choice as it contains excessive sugar, artificial sweeteners, and lacks nutritional value.
Continue reading to find out more and check your knowledge!
Ingredients to be cautious about
- Sodium Hexametaphosphate
- Natural Flavors
- Acesulfame Potassium
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Artificial Flavors
- Juice Concentrate
Possible short-term side effects
- Increased blood sugar levels
- Weight gain
- Poor nutrition
Possible long-term side effects
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Tooth decay
- Poor immune system function
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Fresh fruit juice
- Plain yogurt
- Natural herbal tea
Did you know...? 🤔
Is Sunny D a healthy choice?
Does Sunny D contain excessive sugar?
Does Sunny D have nutritional value?
There are a many misconceptions about Sunny D. Based on the name, some people think it has vitamin D (it doesn’t). Others fear it will turn their skin orange (it won’t). Today, let’s take a closer look at this one-of-a-kind beverage. Is Sunny D healthy, really?
Is Sunny D Bad for You?
1. What Is Sunny D Made Of?
- Sunny D has sucralose. Sucralose is a somewhat controversial zero-calorie sweetener. It reduces the amount of calories and sugar in Sunny D, but it may come with downsides, too, particularly for gut health. More details below.
- Sunny D has canola oil. Honestly, I don’t know why there is canola oil in Sunny D. The nutrition facts label doesn’t show any fat content, so it must be a small amount of oil. But still… I’m not a fan. Canola oil is highly processed fat. Who wants it in their drink?
2. How Much Sugar Is in Sunny D?
3. How Bad Is the High Fructose Corn Syrup in Sunny D?
4. Are the Artificial Colors in Sunny D Safe?
Sunny D has artificial colors like Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and others depending on the flavor. Research suggests that artificial colors cause hyperactivity and behavioral issues in some children. There are also concerns around possible carcinogens in artificial colors used in Sunny D.
Some research has suggested that as little as 50 mg per day of artificial food colorings could cause behavioral changes 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:
- Yellow 5: A 2015 study found that Yellow 5 caused DNA damage in human white blood cells that it was exposed to. It is possible that this DNA damage could lead to tumor formation if it were to happen in amounts that could not be repaired.
- Yellow 6: Yellow 6 often contains known carcinogenic contaminants, including benzidine and 4-amino-biphenyl. These contaminants have only been documented at low levels where it shouldn’t be cause for concern, however. There were also animal trials where Yellow 6 resulted in kidney/adrenal tumors—but this result is disputed. (source, source)
- 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. The EU requires foods with Red 40 to bear a warning saying it “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
- 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 of these artificial colors are still being tested on animals to determine their safety. The most established problem is hyperactivity in kids. Some governments have taken steps to add warnings or ban some of these dyes in Sunny D.
It’s actually hard to find good credible sources on which of these dyes are currently banned in which countries. But I found the most credible documentation that Yellow 6 is banned in Japan and several European countries.
5. Does Sunny D Have Artificial Sweeteners?
Sunny D uses artificial sweeteners like sucralose along with high fructose corn syrup. This results in a drink with fewer calories and grams of sugar. However, sucralose and other artificial sweeteners may worsen gut bacteria and potentially cause other health issues over time.
Here are a few of the possible health issues with sucralose:
- Sucralose seems to be a migraine trigger for some people. (source, source)
- Sucralose may cause insulin resistance through multiple mechanisms (more on that below).
- Sucralose has been shown to have a surprisingly minimal effect on weight loss.
Most of the health concerns around artificial sweeteners are not well proven. But for many people, the risk feels scary nonetheless. Why take the risk if you don’t have to?
There’s 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, to help you decide if you’re okay with consuming them.
6. Does Sunny D Have Caffeine?
Sunny D 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. Sunny D 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.
In any case, Sunny D is caffeine free!
7. Is Sunny D High in Sodium?
8. Does Sunny D Make You Gain Weight?
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9. Is Sunny D Healthier Than Soda?
Let’s compare Sunny D with the most popular soda in the world, Coca-Cola. First, let’s look at some basic nutrition facts:
In each 8 oz serving, Coca-Cola is much higher in sugar and calories. Meanwhile Sunny D is higher in sodium.
But it’s worth noting, too, the reason why Sunny D is lower in calories and sugar. It’s because Sunny D also includes artificial sweeteners like sucralose. And I already covered the potential problems with that above.
If you’re not worried about the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on your health, then Sunny D may be a bit better choice than Coke. It’s lower in sugar, which is important—Coke is way too high in sugar.
But the real answer is that neither Sunny D nor Coke are healthy drinks.
10. Is Sunny D as Healthy as Orange Juice?
The most natural comparison to make with Sunny D is likely with orange juice. So, how do these two drinks compare, nutritionally?
Orange juice is actually not as healthy as many people assume. Although oranges are a healthy fruit, just 1 cup of orange juice ends up containing the sugar from many oranges, without the fiber that would naturally come with it.
So despite the “natural sugar” in orange juice, it may still be excessive total sugar overall. Here’s how Sunny D compares to orange juice in a few key metrics:
|Simply Orange Juice||110||23g||0mg|
Does Sunny D have more sugar than orange juice? No, actually the opposite is true: Real orange juice has more sugar than Sunny D. Again, this is because Sunny D is sweetened partially with zero-calorie sweeteners like sucralose.
So, which is better, Sunny D or orange juice? Most people would say orange juice is healthier. Sunny D just has too many highly processed ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup, sucralose, artificial colors, canola oil, and more.
That said, real orange juice is higher in calories and total sugar. So be mindful of how it fits into your diet and macros, if that’s relevant to your current health goals.
11. Is It Bad to Drink Sunny D Every Day?
12. Does Drinking Sunny D Turn You Orange?
In 1999, a four-year-old girl in Wales reportedly turned yellow after drinking 1.5 liters of Sunny Delight per day. This story led to widespread fears and rumors about Sunny Delight, and sales dropped by ~half in the next year. (source)
In the years to follow, Sunny Delight turned into Sunny D, and the ingredients were revamped. But what happened with that yellow girl? And do you need to worry about Sunny D changing your skin color nowadays?
The girl apparently had a condition called carotenosis—and it was caused by the beta-carotene in Sunny Delight. Beta-carotene can build up in your skin, resulting in a yellow-orange color. (source)
Beta-carotene is naturally found in sweet potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. And indeed, there have been documented cases of people turning orange from eating too many of these vegetables, too.
So, will Sunny D turn you yellow nowadays? The yellow color in Sunny D now comes from artificial colors Yellow 5 and Yellow 6, which do not seem to cause skin color changes, even when consumed in high quantities. So, you should have nothing to worry about.
Keep in mind: Even back in the 1990s when Sunny Delight had beta-carotene, there was only one documented case of it turning someone’s skin yellow. So it was not a common occurrence!
13. Is Sunny D Vegan?
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