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10 Most Unhealthy Sodas in America: From High Calories to Bad Ingredients

aluminum cans of soda background. the view from the top

10 Most Unhealthy Sodas in America: From High Calories to Bad Ingredients

Long before big soda companies were sparring for their place as the number one soda, the carbonated beverage was popular in pharmacies. Pharmacists created sodas which were considered a health tonic with sparkling water mixed with flavors. According to Pharmacy Times, these flavored bubbly drinks contained caffeine and sometimes even cocaine, and they were thought to cure various ailments. Of course, we now know more about the danger of stimulants, and those days of spiked sodas are long gone.

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These days, soda is considered the opposite of health food, and many health professionals recommend avoiding it altogether. Soda, or as some parts of the U.S. call it, pop, is full of sugar and chemicals, and even diet soda is not actually safe for a healthy diet. But soda lovers everywhere may find it challenging to give up their favorite drink and instead look for healthier versions. So, if you can relate to the many people who can't fathom giving up soda, then you don't have to, but you should be aware of some of the most unhealthy sodas in America so you can make good choices when choosing your carbonated can.

1. Crush Pineapple

The soda brand Crush is usually associated with the orange-flavored Orange Crush, but Pineapple Crush gets all the credit for being one of the unhealthiest sodas in America. In just one 20-fluid-ounce bottle, it has 320 calories. Just to put that in perspective, most dieticians recommend breakfast calories between 300 and 400 calories per day. So a bottle of Pineapple Crush has the same amount of calories as a proper breakfast but without any of the nutrients. The yellow citrus soda has 86 grams of carbohydrates and 85 grams of sugar. And if that wasn't bad enough, it also has 110 milligrams of sodium. This soda is not doing your body any favors. It's empty calories and lots of sugar. If you love that carbonated pineapple taste, try mixing actual crushed pineapple with sparkling water for a healthy homemade version of Pineapple Crush.

2. Jolt Cola

Fizz sparkling Cola water Refreshing bubbly Soda Pop with Ice Cubes. Cold soft drink cola carbonated liquid fresh and cool iced drink in a glasses . Refreshing and quench thirst concept .
Sugary colas damage teeth.

©Nitiphonphat/Shutterstock.com

Jolt cola is the favorite soda of jittery cola lovers everywhere. It was the original energy drink and was heavily marketed to young adults as a tasty stimulant and alternative to coffee to keep you awake and going strong. Jolt hit the cola market in 1985, and its key to fame was that it had more sugar and caffeine than the other major cola companies.

The Jolt company went bankrupt in 2009 but then relaunched in 2017 as an exclusive Dollar Store item. The revamped cola with a new recipe now had four times the caffeine and sugar. The high caffeine and sugar make this soda bad for your teeth; the sugar rots the enamel and causes tooth decay, and all that caffeine can lead to grinding your teeth. Luckily, Jolt cola is fairly easy to avoid; it's only sold at a few places around the country, and if you are really curious to try one of the most unhealthy sodas in America, you might need to log into eBay to find it.

3. Mug Cream Soda

Sipping on Mug Cream Soda is like tasting an old-fashioned ice cream soda. It combines that creamy, rich flavor with carbonation, and it can trigger nostalgia for a simpler time. But that little trip down memory lane comes at the price tag of 290 calories. The cream soda has 79 grams of carbohydrates and 79 grams of sugar. Of course, it tastes good with that much sugar, but to put it in perspective, The American Heart Association recommends men keep their daily sugar intake to 36 grams and women to 25 grams. So one can of Mug Cream Soda is three plus days of sugar in just twenty fluid ounces. If you really love this soda, then keep it to special occasions and share the can with a friend or two to spread out that sugar.

4. Mello Yello

The citrus-flavored soft drink Mello Yello makes the list due to its high sugar content. If you aren't familiar with Mello Yello, it is a Coca-Cola product and was originally created to compete with Pepsi Cola’s Mountain Dew. Mello Yello is still on the shelves, but it was never as popular as Mountain Dew. But this bright-colored drink is available in some chain restaurants like Arby’s, Cracker Barrel, and Hardees. But you are better off skipping this drink because it has 290 calories per twenty fluid ounces. And it has 78 grams of carbs and 77 grams of sugar, making it one of the most unhealthy sodas in America.

5. Rockstar Original

Everybody wants to be a rockstar; at least, that's what the marketers at Rockstar Original were hoping for when they started marketing this drink. It is part cola, part energy drink, and originally designed to help those with exhausting lifestyles like rockstars. Today, there are many variations of the drink, but the original makes the list for its high caffeine, with 160 mg of caffeine per 16-ounce can. Besides caffeine, the drink has a mix of herbs like ginkgo biloba and guarana seed, both known for being stimulants. The excess caffeine and high calories and sugar with 280 calories and 67.5 grams of sugar make this a soda energy drink to avoid, especially if you get caffeine-induced jitters and anxiety. 

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6. Mountain Dew

This citrusy soda is a no-go for anyone concerned about their health. The sugary soda has 77 grams of sugar and 77 grams of carbs. Plus, at 290 calories, it is practically a meal in itself with no nutrients. With 55 grams of caffeine, there are better ways to get a caffeine fix than this neon soda.

7. Fanta Mango

Yes, Fanta has a mango flavor. It is sugary sweet, like real mango, with a fizzy carbonated taste in every sip. We aren't going to lie; it tastes good, especially if you like mango and mango-flavored items. But it's 280 calories with 77 grams of carbs and 76 grams of sugar, making it one of the most unhealthy sodas in America. Instead of mango-flavored soda, take ¾ a cup of fresh mango, which is only 70 calories, and blend, then mix with sparkling water for a simple homemade carbonated mango beverage and skip the Fanta.

8. Sun Drop Citrus

Close-up of many orange soda bottles in a store fridge
Citrus soda is not a healthy choice.

©Stockah/Shutterstock.com

Here is another citrus soda that misses the mark and has too much sugar. Sun Drop Citrus is filled with sugar with 75 grams of sugar and 290 calories per twenty-fluid-ounce bottle. It's sugary sweet with a syrup-like aftertaste that might give you an afternoon sugar boost, but it will lead to a citrus-flavored sugar crash; this is definitely one to skip.

9. Pepsi Wild Cherry

Pepsi is one of the top cola companies with a lot of different products. When consumers reach for a Pepsi, they know what they are getting. But they might be surprised by Pepsi Wild Cherry; it has 260 calories and 70 grams of sugar and carbs. It is one of the sodas to skip or just split with a friend to share that heavy sugar overload.

10. A&W Root Beer

Root beer was originally made from roots and herbs and considered a tea. But this root beer is a long way from the original formula and has 270 calories with 73 grams of carbs and 72 grams of sugar. So, if you think choosing a root beer over a typical soda is a healthy choice, you would be mistaken. If you love root beer, look for other versions with less sugar or local artisanal versions that focus on healthier ingredients with the same classic root beer taste. If root beer floats are your favorite indulgence, then save them for special occasions to avoid sugar overload.


Soda is everywhere, whether you drink it at home or at your favorite restaurant. It is popular among adults and kids alike. In 2023, the U.S. will be one of the largest soda consumers in the world, coming in second to Argentina. In the U.S., one in five people consume at least one soda per day. If you are that one person in four of your friends, then we hope you have some information to help you avoid some of the most unhealthy sodas in America.

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