It Is Time to Stop Drinking Kool-Aid—Here’s Why the Drink Has Always Been Bad for You

Eva Hagan - Author

Jan. 25 2024, Published 1:19 p.m. ET

A tropical punch flavored Kool-Aid packet in front of a white background.
Source: iStock

Even if you didn’t grow up drinking Kool-Aid, you probably are at least familiar with the Kool-Aid man. The red anthropomorphic pitcher was a character in commercials for decades and helped make Kool-Aid a childhood favorite for many.

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The colorful powdered drink made an easy after school snack or party mix. However, for the sake of good health, it may be time to let go of Kool-Aid. Here’s why Kool-Aid is bad for you.

A woman wearing a pink shirt pours a red drink into a glass held by a girl in pigtails wearing a light pink shirt.
Source: iStock
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Is Kool-Aid bad for you?

Kool-Aid is a powdered drink beverage that dates back to the 1920s. It was a top-selling drink for kids, largely because of the frequent commercials geared toward children featuring a smiling pitcher known as the Kool-Aid Man. However, the drink has proven to be very unhealthy.

Kool-Aid’s sugar content makes it one of the worst drinks for you. The drink packages market themselves as an unsweetened drink mix with zero calories and a great source of vitamin C, but this doesn’t account for the one cup of sugar needed to make the drink mix, per Mashed.

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When prepared as instructed on the packaging, the Kool-Aid Strawberry Unsweetened Soft Drink Mix contains 25 grams of added sugar per serving. According to the American Heart Association, it’s recommended that children and teens consume less than 25 grams of sugar per day.

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So, with just one serving of Kool-Aid, kids consume the upper limit of their daily sugar intake. What’s even scarier is that it’s estimated that the average American consumes around 70 grams of sugar per day, per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Consuming too much sugar isn’t bad for you because of the uncontrollable energy levels it’s bound to supply; it can lead to a bunch of health issues. For kids especially, a high-sugar diet can lead to tooth decay and puts them at a higher risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

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Is Kool-Aid bad for your kidneys?

Research has shown that a diet high in sugar could put you at a higher risk of kidney stones. Clinical chief of nephrology and also co-director of the Kidney Stone Prevention Program at NYU Langone Health, Dr. David S. Goldfarb, told Medical News Today, “There has long been evidence that sugar increases the amount of calcium in urine, and there have been multiple reasons why avoidance of sugar would be part of a diet encouraging kidney stone prevention.”

A 2019 study found that high consumption of sweetened fruit drinks and soda led to a higher risk of chronic kidney disease. So, it’s not necessarily Kool-Aid that is bad for your kidneys, but sugary drinks like this in general.

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