Is Tang Healthy?

Tang instant drink mix is convenient and has a pleasing citrus flavor. Kids love it too. But, is it healthy?

It’s a popular drink with kids – but many adults love it too. Tang instant drink mix holds a special place in the hearts of Americans. After all, this is a drink that’s been around since 1959 and was even carried as the official breakfast drink on the Gemini space missions. From its humble beginnings as a convenient orange flavored powdered drink mix, it’s now available in thirty-eight flavors. Most people drink it as is, while others use to make smoothies or even serve it hot. According to Wikipedia, some people even use it to clean their dishwasher to give it a sweet citrus smell. It may be tasty and convenient – but is Tang healthy?

Is Tang Healthy?: What’s in It?

Not surprisingly, Tang instant drink mix is mostly sugar. It contains the sugars sucrose and fructose along with citric acid to add tartness; potassium citrate to regulate acidity, and calcium phosphate to prevent caking. It also contains cellulose to add extra body and artificial coloring to make it look pretty. According to the label, Tang has natural flavors which can mean almost anything. Manufacturers love to toss around the word “natural” to make something sound healthier. It’s also fortified with vitamins including vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, vitamin B6, niacinamide, and riboflavin – and contains the preservative BHA.

Is Tang Healthy?: The Positives

An eight ounce glass of Tang has forty calories and nine grams of sugar – less than your average soft drink which has more than twice the calories and a lot more sugar. It’s also fortified with vitamins and is a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, vitamin A, and vitamin C. You won’t find these vitamins in any soft drink on the market. It’s also very low in sodium which is surprisingly considering the high salt content of most packaged foods.

Is Tang Healthy?: The Negatives

Tang instant drink mix is mostly sugar which most people don’t need more of. It also lacks the phytonutrients found in natural oranges and most fruit juices. The artificial colorings found in Tang are controversial – with many experts concerned about their cancer causing potential. Some artificial food colorings have already been removed from the market because of health issues. The concern is that some artificial food colorings can damage DNA – leading to mutations that could cause cancer and other health problems. Some studies also show that the preservative BHA found in Tang instant drink mix causes cancer in rats.

Is Tang Healthy?: The Bottom Line?

Tang is healthier than soft drinks because it has added vitamins and fewer calories and less sugar. On the other hand, it contains artificial food colorings and the preservative BHA. You’re far better off drinking natural fruit juices without added sugar than you are Tang, but Tang is a better alternative to soft drinks.

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  1. I didn’t realize that they still made Tang, and now comes in thirty-eight flavors. Nice informative article. Well done.

  2. Great advice for all sweet drink lovers.

  3. Thanks for the information, I just bought Tang to add to our food storage. Like hfj, above, I only recently discovered that you could still buy Tang. Good advice on avoiding BHA and food dyes.

  4. Hmm… (via CS blog)

  5. Hi Kristie,
    I found a spot for this great article on my blog compliments of Lauren Axelrod.

  6. Great advice

  7. Interestingly— Tang has (A LOT) fewer calories and “Sugars” than Orange Juice… “Natural Juices” do have phyto-nutrients, but they are LOADED with sugar (fructose is not so different from sucrose).

    Not saying Tang is a Juice replacement, but Juice isn’t necessarily a “better” choice all of the time…

  8. I love it

  9. I like this article, very yummy.

  10. So Tang is safe to drink? If it isn’t, why would they now have 40 different flavors and some come in low-sugar (1/2 the sugar, as regular Tang).

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