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You Ask, I Answer: Flavored Powdered Drinks

251664_300Are drink sweeteners (things like Lipton iced tea powder, Crystal Light, and other powders you add to water) with ingredients like maltose and dextrose bad for you?

I don’t drink them every single day, but I will a couple times a week to help when I get a craving for something sweet, but it makes me wonder if I’m just putting chemicals in my body.

– Jessie Arent
Peterborough, NH

Maltose and dextrose are not artificial sweeteners.

Dextrose, for example, is a corn-based sweetener.  From a nutrition standpoint, these two are equal to sugar (4 grams of sugar and 16 calories per teaspoon).

In the case of Crystal Light, the ingredient list reveals the following:

Citric acid (provides tartness), maltodextrin, calcium phosphate, aspartame, modified cornstarch, Red 40, natural flavor, artificial flavor, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium, salt, artificial color, Blue 1, BHA (to protect flavor).

Maltodextrin is another starch based sweetener.  You usually see it in conjunction with artificial sweeteners (in this case aspartame and acesulfame potassium) for flavor optimization.  Without maltodextrin, these powders would taste significantly sweeter, believe it or not.

Each serving of Crystal Light only contains five calories (all from the maltodextrin), so you are looking at a mere quarter teaspoon of added sugar.

These powders are certainly test-tube creations.  That said, I don’t see anything alarming with having them a few times a week.

Remember — nutrition is about consistent dietary patterns.  If, for example, these Crystal Light drinks make you crave large amounts of Doritos, that is more troublesome than if these drinks are an occasional addition to a diet is generally high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

I’m just generally not a fan of artificial sweeteners because they don’t help us train our palates to get used to lower amounts of sweetness in our diet.



  1. Val said on September 30th, 2009

    A co-worker who has had kidney problems and is under the care of a urologist drinks Crystal Light because it has potassium citrate, which helps break down kidney stones. I know that fresh lemon juice in water is a good way to start your day because of lemon’s cleansing properties (and I do that almost every day)…but the lemon with the potassium citrate is good treatment for this problem, it seems.

  2. Val said on October 1st, 2009

    A co-worker of mine drinks Crystal Light because he has had kidney problems and his urologist advises that the Crystal Light has potassium citrate which can break down crystal formation. You would not think that Crystal Light would be recommended but it is by some doctors, apparently. Co-worker is doing well, he says, ALONG with eating the right foods! Just fyi about the potassium citrate!

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