Sugar is Sugar – Regardless the Source

Sugar is Sugar

Cola comes with a wide variety of opinions and ideas. Some colas even advocate a more nutritious product, but is it actually healthier? No. Sugar is sugar.
sugar in colas

I created a video after noticing a cola advertised “made with pure cane sugar” by 365, the Whole Foods brand. Looking at the label, you see this “healthier” product actually contains more calories and added sugar than the name brand Coca Cola.

Fancy marketing, healthier-sounding words and where products are sold will draw in consumers because it sounds like a better sweetener option. But is it really? Sugar is sugar!

Here’s the video transcript of the video.

Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition, this is just a quick video comparing a couple of colas on the market. On the left you see the very popular Coca Cola. Not a product I advocate, but for comparison, we’ll use it to compare with another one.

What is the comparison?

The name brand Coke has 39 grams of carbohydrates, 39 grams of sugar, 140 calories, pure sugar—high fructose corn syrup. Those 39 grams are equivalent to about 10 teaspoons of sugar. sugar in cola

Meanwhile, the 365 brand actually has 170 calories and 43 grams of added sugar. Those 43 grams are equivalent to just about 11 teaspoons of added sugar, one more teaspoon than the regular Coca Cola.

Interestingly, the 365 brand is marketed as healthier because it is sweetened with 100 percent cane sugar. The bottom line though, sugar is sugar.

What is the difference in sugar?

There is really nothing healthier about it. Whether honey, molasses, invert sugar, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, barley malt, coconut sugar, barley malt sugar, organic sugar in the raw, cane sugar crystals, grape juice concentrate, it is sugar. It is metabolized all pretty much in the same way. High fructose corn syrup is actually not that high in fructose, it is 55 percent fructose, where cane sugar is sucrose which is 50 percent fructose, 50 percent glucose.

You might be familiar with agave nectar, and that is 70-90 percent fructose. So if you want to talk about something high in fructose and touted as extremely healthy (note: it’s not): agave nectar.agave sugar

What does the American Heart Association say?

The American Heart Association recommends women get no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and men, no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Either of these cola products is going to blow you out of the water in one day. So decrease your consumption of sugar, no matter what form it comes in.

 sugar recommendation american heart association

American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (about 6 packets or 24 grams) sugar for women per day

recommendation sugar aha men

American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (about 9 packets or 36 grams) sugar for men per day





(Note: The 2015 Dietary Guidelines have a recommendation—for the first time—regarding added sugar. Limit to less than 10 percent of total calories. In a 2000 calorie per day diet that’s about 12 teaspoons of added sugar or 50 grams.)

Bottom Line: Sugar is sugar. Read labels for sugar content.

(Special thanks to Sarah Barnes for assistance in transcribing this video.)

For help, schedule a complimentary 30-minute Ditch Dieting Forever strategy session:

Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach


  1. Jean |

    Neily, I should have included photos of sugar packets in my latest post on this very subject. Very effective! It made me think of my brother who was married to a southern woman who made sweet tea every day. He drank a half gallon of iced tea with a cup of sugar in it every day; that’s 48 teaspoons , more than 5 times the recommended 9!

    • Neily

      I’m not sure where my response went from a few years ago – I hope you saw it Jean! Yes, the sweet tea drinking down here (I’m in Texas) is not as abundant as other parts of the south…but it’s an ‘oh my’ for sure! -Neily


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