Crystal Light is a brand with a wide range of drinks in a variety of flavors. The drinks have low or no calories and sugar and no fat. However, they don't contain any nutrients either.
One of the greatest selling points for Crystal Light, also commonly known as Crystal Lite, is that there is something for just about everyone. There are several flavors for you to choose from, and some contain caffeine.
You can either get Crystal Light in powder form that's available in two sizes, on-the-go and pitcher size, or in a ready-to-drink liquid formulation. You simply add either the powder or the liquid to the water of your choice and enjoy.
Crystal Light and Weight Loss
For every 8-ounce glass of a Crystal Light drink from the classic line, such as the classic orange flavor, you get about 5 calories. That makes Crystal Light a good alternative to sodas and other beverages loaded with calories and sugar, although plain water is the best. Replacing sodas, juices and other calorie and sugar-laden drinks with Crystal Light may help you lose weight.
Adding Crystal Light to your regular glass of water is akin to drinking flavored water with the same lack of calories. That certainly makes the process of drinking water a lot more fun for many people. This can help people to manage their weight since thirst is often misconstrued as hunger. Perhaps the only problems you might have to worry about in this case are increasing water intake side effects.
The typical nutritional profile of a Crystal Light drink makes it seem that you're virtually taking in nothing. There are few to no calories (depending on the flavor), no fat, no cholesterol, no carbohydrates, no sodium and no protein, but there are also no nutrients besides those in the water. So you can increase your daily water intake with flavors from Crystal Light drinks.
Aspartame and Artificial Colors
There are two main ingredients in Crystal Light that have sparked controversy, one more than the other: artificial colors and aspartame. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared both to be safe, there has been quite a bit of research both for and against these ingredients.
In case you'd like to avoid both additives due to the controversy surrounding these ingredients, you can try Crystal Light Pure, a cleaner version of Crystal Light that contains neither artificial sweeteners, flavors nor preservatives. Sugar, dried corn syrup and stevia leaf extract are used in Crystal Light Pure instead of aspartame, and natural colors like black tea are used to replace artificial colors.
Read more: A List of Foods Containing Aspartame
Artificial Colors in Crystal Light
Crystal Light uses a variety of artificial colors in its drink mixes, including yellow 5 and red 40 in its Liquid Tropical Coconut Drink Mix; red 40, yellow 5 and blue 1 in its Lemon Iced Tea Drink Mix, Peach Iced Tea Mix, Liquid Mango Passion Fruit Drink Mix and Liquid Lemon Iced Tea Drink Mix; and yellow 5 in its Lemonade Drink Mix.
The FDA claims that color additives used in food are completely safe when used according to their guidelines. However, the FDA admits that there are some allergic-type reactions to color additives such as yellow 5 (also known as tartrazine), which can cause itchiness and hives, although it is rare.
A study published in 2015 in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine claims that artificial food dyes may cause allergic reactions; behavioral problems in children, including attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); neurobehavioral disorders; and autoimmune disorders.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, an FDA panel concluded that there just isn't enough evidence to show that artificial food dyes cause or add to behavior problems, such as distractability and hyperactivity, in most children.
The panel did note, though, that some children with ADHD might be vulnerable to food colorings and other food additives. The panel went on to point out that the additives are not toxic to the nervous system, but that certain children have an intolerance to them.
More studies and research need to be completed on how artificial food dyes affect consumers' health.
What Is Aspartame?
You'll rarely hear of the artificial sweetener aspartame sold by its technical name. Instead, it is more often sold under the brand names Equal, NutraSweet and Sugar Twin, according to the FDA. Aspartame is an ingredient in several Crystal Light drinks and drink mixes, including Crystal Light Lemon Iced Tea Mix, Crystal Light Lemonade Drink Mix and Crystal Light Peach Iced Tea Mix.
Aspartame is made up of two components: phenylalanine and aspartic acid. Both of these are amino acids that occur naturally in nature. Your body actually produces aspartic acid all on its own, whereas phenylalanine is one of the nine amino acids that your body needs to get from your diet for healthy functioning.
Side Effects of Aspartame
Aspartame is known to be many times sweeter than sugar: 200 times, in fact, according to the FDA. This means that you don't need to use a lot of it to sweeten a food or beverage.
The expected daily intake, according to the FDA, is about 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. There isn't terribly much of it in diet sodas and other products, so you're not likely to go over the recommended daily intake.
Phenylketonuria is a condition caused by having too much phenylalanine in the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. Phenylalanine is commonly obtained from foods like fish, eggs, meat and dairy products. It also happens to be one of the ingredients of aspartame. Since people with phenylketonuria aren't able to properly digest phenylalanine, aspartame can prove to be highly toxic for them.
The Mayo Clinic recommends limiting your intake of aspartame (which contains phenylalanine) if you have tardive dyskinesia, an anxiety disorder; a sleep disorder; or other mental health conditions or if you take neuroleptics, which are medications that contain levodopa (Sinemet, Rytary) or monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration: "Additional Information About High-Intensity Sweeteners Permitted for Use in Food in the United States"
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration: "Color Additives in Food"
- Mayo Clinic: "Phenylketonuria (PKU)"
- Mayo Clinic: "Phenylalanine in Diet Sodas: Is it Harmful?"
- Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine: "Immune Reactivity to Food Coloring"
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration: "Color Additives Questions and Answers for Consumers"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "FDA Panel Finds No Link Between Artificial Food Colorings and Hyperactivity in Most Children"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Amino Acids"
- PubChem: "Aspartame"
- My Food and Family: "Crystal Light Liquid Tropical Coconut Drink Mix"
- My Food and Family: "Crystal Light Lemonade Drink Mix"
- My Food and Family: "Crystal Light Liquid Lemon Iced Tea Drink Mix"
- My Food and Family: "Crystal Light Liquid Mango Passion Fruit Drink Mix"
- My Food and Family: "Crystal Light Peach Iced Tea Drink Mix"
- My Food and Family: "Crystal Light Lemon Iced Tea Drink Mix"
- My Food and Family: "Crystal Light Classic Orange Drink Mix 5 Count Canister"
- My Food and Family: "Crystal Light Liquid Berry Sangria Drink Mix, 1.62 oz Bottle"