Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's In That Food? Part Two: Green Tea With More Sugar and Chemicals Than You Should Care For.

By Marcie Barnes

Borrowing again from a slide
out of a gallery published by AOL, I wanted to alert you to something that bothers me - the new Green Tea product from Lipton. I saw a billboard for it recently that said something like "citrus + green tea antioxidants = yummy" - and I couldn't help but wonder how much corn syrup was going in along with that. Take a look at the ingredients, of course, HFCS is the second ingredient, after water:

Water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, green tea, sodium hexametaphosphate, ascorbic acid, honey, natural flavors, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, calcium disodium edta, caramel color, tallow 5, blue1.

Then, I heard someone make the claim that there was more sugar in this product than in a can of coke - so I decided to find out for myself. I had to do a little math because, of course, Coca-Cola claims the serving size on a 12 oz. can is actually 8 oz., as if you will drink 2/3 and stop. So, there are 27g of sugar in an 8 oz. serving which would equal 36g in a full can. The Lipton Green Tea has 21g of sugar in an 8oz serving which would equal 28g in a full can, so not exactly a true claim, however, I suppose if you drank a full 20 oz. bottle (I haven't seen many cans of this stuff around) you'd be closer to the range of a coke.

In any case, I applaud Lipton for getting more green tea antioxidants out there, but I have to wonder if the HFCS cancels out the benefits. In any case, what about all these other additives?
Sodium hexametaphosphate, but it carries a scary warning in the Wikipedia entry: "Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to the ingestion of sodium hexametaphosphate that may produce mild chest pain. One case of this allergic reaction was reported to have been due to trace amounts of sodium hexametaphosphate found in bottled water." - Eeek. And then we have phosphoric acid (also found in Coke) which is commonly used to remove rust. As with the lye in Cool Whip, I say no thanks!

And the list goes on, Wikipedia also says that sodium benzoate, when combined with ascorbic acid, "may form benzene, a known carcinogen" and also cites studies that link this chemical to ADHD. Next, we have
calcium disodium EDTA - more scary stuff to read here - "EDTA has been found to be both cytotoxic and weakly genotoxic in laboratory animals. Oral exposures have been noted to cause reproductive and developmental effects."

And - oh no - tallow? That normally comes from beef and was the ingredient that got McDonald's sued over saying their french fries were vegetarian. Just another sneaky ingredient - I wonder how many vegetarians out there are drinking this?

And finally, Blue #1 - "It has previously been banned
in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland among others but has been certified as a safe food additive in the EU and is today unbanned in most of the countries. In the United States production exceeds 1 million pounds annually, and daily consumption is around 16 mg per person. It has the capacity for inducing an allergic reaction. It is one of the colorants that the Hyperactive Children's Support Group and the Feingold Association recommend to be eliminated from the diet of children."

I understand these chemicals are probably added in very small quantities, but I think they should be completely avoided by children, pregnant women, and other people with sicknesses and the elderly. And just in case, I stay away from them too.

There are some kudos to Lipton (Unilever)
, for pledging "to transform the tea industry by making it sustainable, changing the lives of the workers for the better along the way..
.to have all of its Lipton Yellow Label and PG Tips bags sold in Western Europe certified by 2010, and all Lipton tea bags sold globally certified by 2015."

All said, I say brew your own green tea and add your own sweetener. If you are trying to get off of soda (or other bottled/canned drinks) brewing your own tea is a great way to wean yourself off. Simply make a batch to your taste and each time reduce the amount of sweetener. Adding a squeeze of lemon helps improve the taste. You can easily move yourself to just drinking plain water or tea with this method. Eating out? Ask for 1/2 sweet & 1/2 unsweet to start. Green tea is associated with lots of health benefits to include weight loss, so don't pick up the bottle full of corn syrup. You can do it!

Up Next: What's in those yummy in-season strawberries?


Erma said...

I drink lots of green tea. But I get if from Botanic Choice or Puritans Pride who says that their products come from Organic sources. I never add sugar to my tea anymore. If I do use sweetner, I use stevia. As I age, I find that I need to do more to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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