Are Hansen's soda's any healthier?

I have several health conscious friends, and when they have a party, they inevitably serve Hansen’s sodas. These are advertised as “all natural” and they don’t have high fructose corn syrup. But my question is, are they actually any healthier than a normal soda? If I drink a normal ginger ale or a Hansen’s, is there any difference? Is their key lime healthier than Sprite?

Or are people just fooling themselves?

They have roughly the same calories as coke products and there’s been no convincing evidence that HFCS is any more unhealthy than cane sugar. In any case, there’s a ton of different sodas made with cane sugar now including coke (mexican/kosher coke) and pepsi (pepsi throwback).

Unless of course you’d prefer not to have gout. From an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association by Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH; Walter Willett, MD, DrPH; Gary Curhan, MD, ScD:

There’s plenty of other evidence I consider convincing that fructose contributes to gout. Maybe I’m easier to convince.

So are you saying that Coke (sweetened with HFCS) would be better than Hansen’s (sweetened with sugar)?

HFCS = High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Well, from their webpage, a can of Hansen’s soda is 160 calories worth of sugar. That’s 10 2/3 teaspoons worth. You kind of have to stretch to call it healthy at all. So reassuring yourself that at least it’s not HFCS seems to be a rationalization.

I have gout, and would drink neither. If you held a gun to my head, I would drink the Hansen’s, because a 50:50 mix of glucose and fructose is better than straight fructose, but neither is healthy, except in relative terms.

HFCS is not straight fructose. The sugar in the type used in soft drinks is 55% fructose, only a little more than you would get from cane sugar.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, HFCS is not straight fructose.

The form of HFCS (called HFCS-55) used in soda pop is a 55:45 mix of fructose and glucose.

ETA: Biffy the Elephant Shrew types faster than I do!

Well, if 10% more is only a little, it’s only a little. It’s a bit like arguing that a full-tar cigarette has only a little more carcinogens than the low tar. Neither one is healthy, but one can be healthier.

Actually, low-tar cigarettes aren’t any healthier than full-tar cigarettes. Which is why cigarette companies aren’t allowed to imply health benefits to smoking light cigarettes.

They would be if you smoked the same number the same way. Unfortunately people smoke to get nicotine, so diluting the smoke means you either smoke more cigarettes, inhale more deeply, figure out that covering those little holes in the filter gets you a better smoke, or some combination of all three.

The way I see it, HFCS and sugar the the same thing and the rule regarding added sugars is the same for both.

Of note, from the American heart Association:

(the number is high for active young men (21-25), but still only about 2 cans a day; conversely, sedentary women age 71-75 are limited to just 3 teaspoons a day)

Although, that doesn’t include the sugar found in whole foods, so this basically limits your intake of processed foods, especially those like soda.

Also, here is a study that finds no significant differences between not just HFCS and sucrose, but other sources of sugar like milk (which has no fructose):

Note the use of “pure fructose”, which HFCS isn’t, as has already been pointed out.

Yeah, if you want to avoid a lot of fructose, stay the heck away from Agave Nectar. That stuff is often nearly all fructose and some products tout it as if it were healthier.

Perhaps sodas made with cane sugar rather than HFCS might be slightly less unhealthy. If you’re consuming sodas in moderation, the difference (if any) would be negligible.

If you’re drinking gallons of that stuff regularly, either one will be likely to place a significant burden on your system.

As Michael Pollan said, there’s no such thing as a healthy soda. You’re basically just drinking candy.

The least-bad-for-you soda I know is Zevia, which uses stevia and erythritol as sweeteners. Their sodas as all zero-calorie and, from what I’ve read, have no effect on blood sugar. The ones I’ve tasted are pretty good too —not quite as good as a Coke or Pepsi, but certainly better than Diet-Rite.

Would that be MMMPop?


There is some evidence that HFCS had a lower ‘satiety rating” than cane sugar, thus one would tend to drink more but still not feel “full”. This, to me, is born out by the obvious size proliferations. When I was a kid 7oz was a ‘standard’ soda, 12 oz was ‘ a lot’. Now, 32 and even 64 oz is common.

Does that make HFCS evil? Hardly. But perhaps if you drink Hansens you will only drink one can not a six pack, and that certainly will be better for you. Thus, as our esteemed QtM indicates, moderation is not so bad. And I think Hansens may help you moderate. Maybe.

This is more of a general trend that has little to do with soda specifically - almost EVERYTHING is much bigger today than it was in the past, probably one of the biggest factors in the current obesity epidemic (people tend to eat everything they have before them, so they eat more if they have more), besides less energy expenditure (exercise and physical labor). As far as satiety rating goes, I find that almost anything I drink by itself doesn’t fill me for long, even something like milk (the protein in particular is supposed to take a while to digest), it just goes through me and I pee it out a half hour later (although if I drink with food, as I always do, including when I used to drink soda, it does increase fullness).