Despite having relatively few ingredients, there is little nutritional value in Kool-Aid, a powdered drink. Now owned by Kraft Foods, Kool-Aid got its start in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1927. By 1931, the drink was already popular nationwide. It even sold well during the Great Depression. Because sugar is usually added to provide Kool-Aid with sweetness, according to Purdue University its use should be limited in children under age 2.
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Citric acid is an organic compound that is found naturally in fruits such as lemons and oranges. It is commonly used as flavoring in processed foods. Citric acid can also be found in some vegetables, such as tomatoes.
Calcium phosphate is a mineral commonly found in cow’s milk. It is also found in bones. Calcium phosphate is commonly used in baking powders and can also be found in some animal foods. It naturally absorbs water.
Salt and Maltodextrin
Salt is used to add flavoring to Kool Aid. Maltodextrin is a chemical made from starch. It is water soluble and can be almost flavorless. It is a common addition to many sodas and candies.
Natural Flavors and Lemon Juice Solids
Natural flavors is a broad category that can include oils, purees, fruit or vegetable juice, or any other material derived from a natural food. Its purpose is to add flavor. Lemon juice solids provide the lemon flavoring to lemon Kool-Aid.
Ascorbic Acid is vitamin C that is water soluble. Vitamin C is required for proper tissue generation and repair in the body. Like vitamin E, vitamin C is an antioxidant, a substance that helps to ward off illnesses like heart disease and cancer. Vitamin C also helps the body grow skin, tendons and blood vessels, as well as maintain healthy bones and teeth.
Artificial colors – Yellow 5 and Yellow 5 Lake
Artificial colors Yellow 5 and Yellow 5 Lake provide Kool-Aid with its color. Yellow 5 is soluble in water. Yellow 5 Lake is not. Artificial colors are somewhat controversial in the United States. According to “Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks,” a report published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the artificial food dyes used in the United States can cause allergic reactions and are possibly carcinogenic as well. In the October 2010 issue of "Environmental Health Perspectives," writer Carol Potera writes that along with Yellow 6 and Red 40, Yellow 5 is responsible for 90 percent of the food dyes used in American food.
BHA is a key ingredient in many processed foods. It acts as a preservative. Like ascorbic acid, BHA has some antioxidant properties, but it is also reportedly a carcinogen. According to the National Toxicology Program’s 11th Annual Report on Carcinogens, BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”
The 1 g package of sugarless lemonade Kool-Aid is nearly devoid of nutritional value. Each package makes 8 servings. It has zero calories, sugar, fat, protein or carbohydrates. It does have 10 mg of sodium.