Is Clamato Juice Healthy?

Bloody Mary Cocktail over Gray Background
Clamato juice may add flavor to your favorite savory adult beverage, but it comes with tons of sugar and salt. (Image: Ryzhkov/iStock/GettyImages)

Tomato juice may be one of the most prominent ingredients in Clamato juice, but that’s about where the healthiness in this savory drink ends. Often used as a mixer for popular adult beverages, including the Michelado, which is a beer-based cocktail, this briny juice contains added sugar and a ton of sodium. Like your cocktails, it’s best to drink this juice in moderation.

Tip

Compared to other vegetable juice options, Clamato juice may not make the healthiest choice. It's high in sodium and a source of added sugar.

What Is Clamato Juice?

In case you couldn’t guess by the name, Clamato juice is a blend of tomato and clam juice with added spices for flavor. According to the official Clamato website, the savory juice was developed in the late 1960s as a refreshing beverage favored by farmers in California.

Despite its origins, Clamato hasn’t found too much popularity in the United States, but Mexicans and Canadians enjoy the juice as a mix for savory cocktails.

In addition to the original flavor, you can find Picante, Limon and Preparado flavors of Clamato juice. Because of the presence of clams or broth in Clamato, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you may want to request your Michelado be made with a different vegetable juice.

What’s in Clamato Juice?

If you’re watching your added sugar intake or you can’t tolerate monosodium glutamate (MSG), you may want to take a good look at the Clamato ingredients list before you whip up a batch of Bloody Caesar, the Clamato version of the Bloody Mary.

In the same order as it appears on the label, the original Clamato drink contains:

  • Water
  • Tomato concentrate
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Salt
  • Citric acid
  • Spices
  • Onion and garlic powder
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Dried clam broth
  • Vinegar
  • Natural flavors
  • Red 40
  • Red chili pepper

The Food and Drug Administration requires that ingredients on a food label be placed in order of predominance. That means that, after water and tomato juice, Clamato contains a significant amount of added sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, which you may find a bit surprising, given the savory nature of the beverage.

According to a 2013 review published in Advances in Nutrition, sugar intake in the United States has increased 40 fold since the American Revolution, with a significant increase over the past 50 or so years due to the uptick in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Many studies have found a correlation between the obesity epidemic and the increase in sugary drinks, and more specifically, drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. According to the authors of this review, high fructose corn syrup increases fat production in your body.

Clamato Nutrition Facts

Despite being a source of added sugar, the Clamato drink is low in calories and fat free, but not a very good source of protein or any vitamins or minerals. Clamato nutrition facts in an 8-ounce serving of any flavor include:

  • 60 calories
  • Zero fat
  • 790 to 820 milligrams of sodium
  • 12 to 13 grams of carbohydrates
  • 11 grams of sugar
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 4 to 8 percent of the daily value (DV) for vitamin A
  • 4 percent DV for vitamin C

The Preparado flavor also provides 2 percent of the DV for iron, while the Picante flavor contains 1 gram of fiber.

Some Vitamin A and C

While not a significant source of vitamins A or C, the Clamato drink can help you get closer to your daily needs.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for reproduction, immune health and cell-to-cell communication. It’s also critical for eyesight because you can’t make rhodopsin, the protein responsible for absorbing light in your eyes, without it. The DV for vitamin A is 5,000 international units (IU) a day. For perspective, an 8-ounce glass of canned tomato juice provides more than 20 percent of the DV, while the same serving of Clamato provides less than 10 percent.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need a regular supply of this vitamin every day because your body can’t store it. This essential nutrient helps your body make collagen, neurotransmitters and L-carnitine. It also acts as an antioxidant protecting your cells from free radical damage, and it may help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. The DV for vitamin C is 60 milligrams, and one 8-ounce serving of Clamato provides less than 3 milligrams.

Watch Out for Sodium

With about 800 milligrams of sodium per serving, Clamato is a high-sodium drink. Americans already consume too much sodium, averaging about 3,400 milligrams a day, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). High intakes of sodium increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

For better health, the AHA recommends you keep your daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day. One serving of the Clamato drink uses up more than half the daily recommendation. Unlike V8 juice, Clamato isn’t available in a low-sodium version.

Clamato Juice vs. V8 Juice

If you’re looking for a healthy vegetable juice, V8 vegetable juice makes a better choice than Clamato juice. Unlike Clamato, V8 vegetable juice doesn’t contain any added sugar and its list of ingredients includes the reconstituted juice of tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, parsley and other healthy vegetables.

The benefits of V8 juice also extend to its micronutrient content. One cup of original V8 meets 20 percent of the DV for vitamin A and 80 percent of the DV for vitamin C. However, V8 vegetable juice is a source of sodium, although with 640 milligrams per serving, not as bad as Clamato. But low-sodium V8 only has 140 milligrams of sodium per 8 ounces.

Beware of the MSG

MSG is a flavor enhancer that’s added to a number of foods and, according to the FDA, is generally recognized as safe. However, many people claim to suffer ill effects when consuming foods that contain MSG, affectionately dubbed the Chinese restaurant syndrome.

Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Flushing
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain

Despite the many anecdotal claims of reactions to MSG, researchers have failed to find a direct connection between MSG and various symptoms.

That said, if you think you have tolerance issues to MSG, you may want to stay away from Clamato juice to prevent a reaction. MSG is the fourth ingredient listed on the label, just under high fructose corn syrup.

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