How to Choose Ethical Soft Drinks that are Low in Sugar

January 20, 2020

This week we are embarking upon Sugar Awareness week in the UK from 20 – 26th January and so we want to look at ethical drinks that don’t kill your sugar intake. This is a country wide initiative to highlight the conversation about the amount of sugar we as a country are consuming. It has been widely reported that our nation is generally addicted to sugar and often we are ingesting it in our food and drinks without even realizing (Ever looked at a yoghurt pot only to be horrified that 25% of it (or often more) is sugar?)

I think it is generally well known that sugar is pretty bad for you if consumed excessively. But lets just go over the biggies…

Sugar has a low nutritional value: It is is an empty calorie, bulking out our foods so we lose hunger for other more nutritional foods. We then miss out on the fibre, minerals and vitamins we could otherwise be consuming.

Sugar causes weight gain: See above point – these empty calories are absorbed much more quickly into the body and are often just converted to fat. So as well as the low nutritional content, it means we feel hungry again sooner and so we eat more…

Sugar can be associated with heart disease: See above point again! This association may be because sugary drinks are high in calories, do not affect hunger, and provide an insufficient amount of energy

Sugar consumption can cause tooth decay: which may lead to the development of cavities.

Carrot anyone?

Sugar on a table

There are so many different points of discussion around sugar, this entire blog site could be devoted to it. But we are here to try and help you make better choices, easily. So today we are going to focus on the sugar in drinks and give you some easy swaps that you can make that will also align with your desire to consume more consciously and more sustainably.

How many of us really think about drinks when we think about our daily sugar intake? How easy is it to find out the sugar content?  Many drinks do not have nutritional information available at the point of purchase and this makes it hard – especially considering the thought process is usually along the lines of “I am thirsty, what’s available?”

Despite the introduction of the so called ‘sugar tax’ in April 2018, the sugar content of soft drinks still remains high. The results of a study by WHO (published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization)  compared the sugar and energy labels of soft drinks in 2018, with the same product labels in 2014. Of 83 products, the mean sugar and energy content (measured separately) had decreased by around 40%. Good strides but still leaves a minefield of choices to be navigated.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and look at some ethical drinks that we CAN choose. We would love to hear your thoughts on any of these and point us towards some more:

Low Sugar Drinks by Ethical Suppliers

A display of Chari-tea and Lemon-Aid - Ethical Drinks

Fentimans – Their light range includes Rose Lemonade, Sparkling Raspberry and Sparkling Elderflower and the sugar content is less then 4.8g/100ml

Luscombe – The Rhubarb Crush contains 4.9g/100ml. Every drink is entirely free from concentrates, additives, preservatives, colourings, artificial flavourings or enhancers.

One Water – With a range of still, sparkling and flavoured water in fully recyclable packaging, the company dedicate a large portion of profits to fund clean water projects in areas that need it most. From providing household water connections in low-income, urban settlements to training rural communities in water supply maintenance, discover how our projects are helping to deliver a clean, safe water supply, forever. Sugar content in the flavoured water is less than 0.5g/100ml.

Lemonaid – With refreshing flavours in Lime, Ginger, Blood Orange or Passionfruit, these 100% organic, fairtrade drinks are made using sustainable practices where everyone is paid a fair wage for their work.

On top of that, 5 cent / pence for every bottle they sell goes to support the Lemon-aid & Chari-Tea Foundation, which funds social projects in the regions where their ingredients are grown. Sugar content is 5-7g/100ml.

Chari-tea – part of the company involved with Lemonaid, these Iced Teas come in 4 different flavours and are all under 4g/100ml of sugar which is unusual for an Iced Tea. The Chari-tea foundation has raised more than € 4,000,000  for schools, solar projects and many other initiatives in South Africa, Sri Lanka and Latin America.

Whole Earth – You may know them better for their range of nut butters but did you know they also did a range of soft drinks? While the range isn’t as low sugar as the rest on this list (between 6-7g/100ml), the range is all organic and the company has partnered with a range of environmental and social initiatives across the UK.

Worth a mention – Karma Kola – While these drinks cannot be considered low in sugar (8-9g/100ml) for those of you wanting Sugar free and are happy with Stevia, these are worth a look. Organic, Fairtrade and the Karma Kola Foundation is working directly with cola nut farmers in Boma village in Sierra Leone, to help rebuild their crops and their communities.  Part of the proceeds from the sale of every bottle goes back to the people of Boma to invest in community projects.

And a few generic options you can look for when out and about…

Coconut on a beach with a straw - an ethical drink

Coconut Water – Unlike coconut milk, which is creamier, coconut water is nutty and refreshing, with a tiny bit of sweetness. Great for adding to smoothies and widely available in supermarkets.

Kombucha – These little bottles of goodness are essentially a fermented tea. They typically contain little to no sugar and have the added benefit of probiotics, which are known to promote gut health. 

Maple Water – While the jury may be out on the health benefits of this new drinks trend – tapped from the sap of a maple tree, it certainly has less sugar and fewer calories than coconut water and most soft drinks.

If you have any other tips on ethical drinks, or comments on this blog please do let us know below

Want to read more about sustainable tips for your kids? Read our guide on how to go plastic free in the school lunch box

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