I have a thing for kombucha. I crave the bitter taste of it swishing in the back of my mouth. I salivate just thinking about it. I also enjoy the support of the naturally occurring probiotics and the many health benefits that kombucha claims to have. It’s safe to say that I’m lifetime member of the kombucha fan club.
So, a few days ago when the government released its new dietary guidelines recommending only 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, I started going through my refrigerator and reading nutrition facts panels just to get a refresh on what 6 teaspoons of sugar looks like. To put it in perspective, one teaspoon of sugar is equal to about 4 grams.
Because I tend to avoid sweets and processed foods (opting for my dessert in the form of wine), most everything in my refrigerator met my expectations of sugar content: except my kombucha!
Despite its bitter flavor, my ginger kombucha had a whopping 22 grams of sugar per serving. There are two servings in a bottle (who really consumes only half a bottle?). So, every time I was enjoying a bottle of this simple ginger kombucha, I was drinking two times the recommended daily consumption of sugar in a single bottle. Holy kombucha! I felt betrayed.
This discovery was shocking to me as I’ve been a kombucha drinker for the past several years (thankfully I haven’t been consuming ginger kombucha for all of those years…). I’m not one to drink a beverage other than a nutrition-packed smoothie, water or wine. So, I know that I examined the kombucha label before I ever adopted it as my afternoon pick-me-up beverage, and I never would have been okay with 44 grams of sugar in a bottle. That’s more than a can of soda.
So, I immediately discarded this ginger kombucha and went to Whole Foods Market to examine all of the kombucha labels. What I found is that this type of sugar content is not rare, especially with added fruit juices — so be careful and read the label! Thankfully there are brands that have sugar content as low as 2 grams per serving. I went through every label and even found a new brand of ginger kombucha with only 4 grams of sugar per bottle; my refrigerator is now stocked with it.
The key takeaway here is that food companies can fool even those of us who think we’re making healthy choices. Unfortunately, the health food store has numerous high-sugar and high-processed foods disguised in healthy packaging. Don’t trust the package, read the nutrition facts panel. Thanks to kombucha, I have once again learned a valuable lesson in label reading!