Concerns Raised About Sugar Content of Kombucha

Sarah Pope, founder of The Healthy Home Economist, has raised concerns about the sugar content of some brands of kombucha. She notes that, since the drink has become popular, some brands sweeten with fruit juice and even sugar added post-fermentation. This raises the risk for those battling candida overgrowth. :

Plain kombucha contains little sugar as most of it is fermented away during the brewing process. However, the majority of the commercial kombucha on the market today is flavored and sweetened which most definitely adds a candida risk to those who consume them regularly.

She is highlights the contents of a popular Kevita flavor:

One of my favorite Kevita kombucha flavors is the Pineapple Peach … Checking the ingredients, one could easily be misled into thinking that there is little sugar since stevia leaf extract is listed under the ingredients. However, if you check the nutrition label, there are 16 grams of sugar in every bottle (8 grams per serving with two servings per bottle). Why there is so much sugar is in there is beyond me because close examination of the ingredients doesn’t indicate any added sugar or fruit juice – only pineapple flavor, peach flavor and ginger extract.

Not only is there a whopping 4 teaspoons of sugar per bottle, 80 milligrams of caffeine is added via green coffee beans.  Yikes!  That’s nearly as much as a brewed cup of coffee. Don’t give this to a child thinking it is a healthier alternative!

Sarah recommends checking the sugar content, which, as we showed recently, is reported differently in the US and Europe, and choosing brands low in sugar. Her article lists those she recommends (in blue in the list below), next to other high-sugar brands:

Sarah notes that testing for sugar content is not yet as accurate as consumers deserve, and that initiatives such as the KBI Verification Program should ensure that what’s on the label is what’s in the bottle. The program, which includes alcohol testing and extensive labeling requirements, will demonstrate the industry’s willingness to self-regulate. It will be based on modern, kombucha-specific testing methods developed by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists.

Meanwhile, Sarah concludes:

The truth is that the current method of testing sugar in kombucha is outdated. Most manufacturers are taking a Brix reading which is the simple measurement of sucrose dissolved in solution. However, the brix reading … incorrectly skews the number higher …  In the future, the hope is that a more accurate way to determine sugar content in kombucha will be utilized through High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) performed by an independent, third party lab.

A great option for anyone aiming to limit sugar intake is to choose the plain (aka “original”) variety of a brand or, better yet, brew your own ‘booch so you can drink it as sweet or sour as you like!

Check out the full report on The Healthy Home Economist website.

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