SunnyD is bad for you. It's loaded with sugar, has artificial sweeteners and coloring agents, and has almost no nutritional content.
SunnyD - which looks and tastes a lot like orange juice - has very little actual juice content. Although it sells for about the same price as other orange juice concentrates you can find on the shelves of the grocery store, the citrus juice content of SunnyD clocks in at less than two percent - an amount so marginal that advertising the product as a fruit juice product is deeply misleading. SunnyD has almost no fruit juice to speak of; it's closer kin to soda than to anything which grows on a tree.
The rest of SunnyD is a slew of water, high fructose corn syrup, and chemicals and additives both synthetic and lab-extracted.
First, the sugar: it's got more than ten grams of added sugars, which is about half of your recommended daily value. Total sugars come out to almost 20 grams - way more than you need in any one product. Excess sugar feeds bacteria which rot your teeth and gums; because SunnyD comes with almost no fiber, that sugar is digested quickly. Some is broken down in the blood, where it can spike your glucose and increase your risk of diabetes over time. Some goes to the liver, where it's stored as fat that ends up in your arteries and puts strain on your cardiovascular system.
Despite the sky-high sugar content in SunnyD, there's also artificial sweeteners. They include acesulfame potassium, or acesulfame k - a calorie-free artificial sweetener that's 200 times sweeter than sugar. Acesulfame k is calorie-free because the body can't break it down; marginal amounts are used to sweeten food and are subsequently excreted by the body. So far, it hasn't been demonstrated to be unsafe, and it's approved for use in limited amounts by the European Food Safety Authority and the FDA. Consumer groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have criticized the evidence for Acesulfame K's safety and contended that the studies done so far were improperly structured or inadequate.
SunnyD also contains Neotame - a relatively new artificial sweetener that's also subject to controversy. It was approved for use in Europe as recently as 2010. Critics contend that it's more toxic than structurally-similar aspartame and that it should be subject to further testing before getting the green light.
SunnyD is colored with artificial colors that have been subject to considerable controversy. There's some evidence they may cause developmental disorders, hyperactivity, and thyroid dysfunction. There's also some indications that they may be carcinogenic. Although companies like Nestle have pledged to remove these artificial colors from most of their foods under public pressure, there's no indication yet that they'll be gone from SunnyD anytime soon.
SunnyD does have high vitamin C content - more than a thousand milligrams, or well over what your body can use in a day. There's no good evidence that vitamin megadosing can significantly help your immune system; most of that vitamin C will pass directly into the toilet via your urine and is effectively wasted.
Check the nutrition labels of foods you buy for "natural and artificial flavors" - SunnyD has them. The phrase is a broad catch-all that says little about what's actually in there; it refers to combinations of flavoring agents either synthesized or extracted from products in a lab. That's not bad, necessarily, but it tells you almost nothing about whether those natural and artificial flavors are safe on their own.
Ingredients to be aware of
- juice concentrate
- acesulfame potassium
- artificial flavors
- natural flavors
- sodium hexametaphosphate
- high fructose corn syrup