Diet cherry limeade is just one of the many beverage options at Sonic, a fast-food chain restaurant that serves burgers and shakes. Being a diet drink makes it lower in sugar and calories than the traditional cherry lemonade, but that doesn't mean it's healthy.
While the occasional diet cherry limeade can be an acceptable part of your diet, this beverage doesn't deserve a prominent place in your healthy eating plan because it's so low in nutrients.
Read more: Sweet Tea Vs. Soda Pop
Count the Calories
According to Sonic nutrition information, both the mini and small diet cherry limeade contains 15 calories. If you order a medium size, your drink comes in at 20 calories, the large size is 25 calories and if you order a Route 44 size, you'll be cruising up to 30 calories. These are much lower totals than the regular cherry limeade at Sonic.
For comparison, a small size of the regular version contains 150 calories. The medium cherry limeade contains 250 calories, and the large has 370 calories. The Route 44 size has a whopping 490 calories.
Reduce Sugar Intake
The diet cherry limeade is one of the low-carb drinks at Sonic. While it isn't sugar-free, it is much lower in sugar than the regular version of the drink. Lowering your intake of added sugars "can have important health benefits," notes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and may reduce your risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
For reference, when considering the sugar content of the beverage, the American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day and that men limit themselves to 9 teaspoons or less each day.
The diet cherry limeade, in any size, contains 2 grams of sugar, which is about 1/2 teaspoon. For comparison, a small regular version of the drink has 38 grams of sugar, while the medium size has 65 grams. The large regular version has 97 grams of sugar, and the Route 44 size drives up your sugar consumption to 130 grams, which is about 30 teaspoons.
Look Elsewhere for Nutrients
Though the diet cherry limeade at Sonic is low in calories and sugar, that doesn't make it a nutritious beverage. The only nutrient the beverage supplies is vitamin C, according to FastFoodNutrition.org. This vitamin helps make collagen, or connective tissue that helps support blood vessel walls, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
The mini and small sizes deliver 4 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements, while the medium supplies 8 percent. The large size supplies 10 percent of your daily vitamin C needs, and the Route 44 size delivers 15 percent. The diet cherry limeade doesn't supply any vitamin A, iron or calcium, however.
While it might not taste salty, the diet cherry limeade does contain sodium — 10 milligrams in a small, 15 milligrams in the medium, 25 milligrams for a large and 30 milligrams in the Route 44 size.
Healthy adults should limit daily sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams according to the American Heart Association. If you have high blood pressure or other heart disease risk factors, that number drops to 1,500 milligrams.
Read more: 10 Myths About Salt Debunked
Make Your Own Cherry Limeade
There's nothing wrong with the occasional serving of diet cherry limeade, but don't make it a regular part of your diet, and stick to one of the mini or small sizes. Anything larger can fill you up, leaving you less hungry for other more nutritious foods. You might also consider making your own cherry limeade so you can control what ingredients you use.
Rather than using low-sugar flavored syrup like Sonic does, puree fresh pitted cherries with fresh lime juice, lime zest and ice to make a similar concoction that doesn't contain any added sugar but that also supplies vitamin C, fiber and potassium.
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat Per Day?"
- Sonic: "Nutritional Information Spring 2019"
- American Heart Association: "Added Sugars"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Listing of Vitamins"
- FastFoodNutrition.org: "Sonic Small Low-Calorie Diet Cherry Limeade"
- Health.gov: "2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Cut Down on Added Sugars"