Sugar content: drinks vs biscuits

Hints & TipsBy Cherry Trees Dental17, May, 2022

We all know sugar is bad for our teeth, but we often forget about the sugar in our drinks. Even if you don’t touch chocolate, sweets or cakes, you might still be consuming more sugar than you imagine – because of the hidden sugar in drinks. To illustrate, we compared some common drinks with that tea-time favourite, the chocolate digestive, to see how they stack up. Before we start, it’s worth knowing a chocolate digestive has 4.8g of sugar per biscuit.

Red wine (small glass, 125ml) = a few crumbs
The sugars in red wine have mostly been converted to alcohol, so the sugar levels are generally very low at around 0.25g in a 125ml glass. The acids can still affect teeth, however, which is worth remembering if you are drinking it over a long period.

White wine (small glass, 125ml) = half a biscuit
The sugar content of white wines varies a lot depending on how sweet and alcoholic it is. A dry white wine might only have about 0.75g sugar in a small glass, but this could increase up to 12g (over 2 biscuits-worth) for a glass of sweet wine like Sauternes. Even in low sugar wines, the acidity will affect teeth if drunk over a long period.

Dry cider (1/2 pint) = 1.5 chocolate biscuits
Ciders are surprisingly sugary with a half pint giving you a similar level to one and a half biscuits (about 7.4g). Vintage or extra strong ciders can have double the amount of sugar (as much as 3 biscuits-worth in half a pint), so take care.

Orange juice (small glass, 150ml) = 2.5 chocolate biscuits
Because it’s made from fruit, orange juice can seem like a healthy option. However the juice is really sugary, with a small glass containing as much as two and half biscuits-worth (about 12g). If it’s any consolation, apple juice is even worse, clocking up 15g of sugar in 150ml (more than 3 chocolate biscuits).

Hot chocolate (mug, about 200ml) = nearly 5 chocolate biscuits
A simple mug of standard hot chocolate made with semi-skimmed milk hides a surprising amount of sugar, up to a similar level as 5 chocolate biscuits! That’s before any extra treats (whipped cream, marshmallows) get anywhere near it.

Medium latte with syrup (400ml) = over 6 chocolate biscuits
If you like buying your coffee with flavouring (be it gingerbread, vanilla, caramel or some sort of novelty flavour) it might be time to go Americano. That’s because your average medium-size serving of sweetened latte has over 30g of sugar – more than six chocolate biscuits. Without the syrup, it measures the same as 3 chocolate biscuits, just because of the natural sugars in milk. In contrast, an Americano of the same volume has only a trace of sugar.