Last evening, I was at a church BBQ (free food, I am so there!). While enjoying some delightful black bean-avocado-tomato-lime infused salad and chatting with friends, I spied something. Now, if you've known me for about five seconds, you will know that high on my unhealthy list is soda. In fact, every time I fly Southwest Airlines and I get a can of water, I cringe. Even the mere appearance and feel of a soda can makes me cringe.

As I was staring off into the quickly fading sunlight, there it was. Like a glow-in-the-dark light. A soda can. Gingerly, I picked up the can. And like a sharp dagger the word "antioxidant" almost killed me. It was a can of  7UP. And not just any 7UP. Antioxidant Cherry 7UP.

Now, most of us would associate the word "antioxidant" with let's say, radical (sarcastic) foods like cherries, pineapple, kiwi, walnuts, pecans, red beets, kale- even spices like cloves and cinnamon. But a can of 7UP? You've got to be kidding me!

What was equally disturbing was that a guy inhaled (no exaggeration) a can of 7UP PLUS a can of coke in about five minutes. Tops.  Perhaps the antioxidants of the 7UP made up for the coke? Or maybe that was his fruit for the day (dare I say week or month).

Even worse was the sugar content. See photos.

Can of coke. Look at the sugar content!

Can of Cherry 7UP (look at sugar content!)

Now, people, in case you are confused, soda is NOT antioxidant. Soda - even if it says "cherry" or some other healthy inspired word - is not the real deal. Even if the label says so. Don't believe everything you read!

A few lessons from my observations.

1) Remember, all antioxidants are not created equal. For example, a serving of beans has 13,727 of antioxidants while a gala apple as 3,903. The USDA breaks down each antioxidant in each food for you. (Go explore the site and learn.)

2) Sugar content. One can had 40g of sugar, the other 38g. In the five minutes that I watched (I kept my mouth shut, I have no idea how) he consumed almost 80 (EIGHTY!) grams of sugar! I'll write more on the whole sugar issue in another article, but for now just know that you should only consume 40g per day. If even that.

3) Upon further investigation (as only a good spy would do) I went to the 7UP website. And you know what? The "antioxidant" was Vitamin E.  I'm shocked I am writing this, because I just about fell over.

So, let me get this straight - by injecting a vitamin into the soda, we can call it "antioxidant?" Oh and don't forget the words "natural" or "cherry."

People. Boys. Girls. Please don't assume that just because it is labeled "natural," "whole grains" or "fruit" it is. Read the labels. Or better yet, stick to getting food straight from the garden, farm, farmers market or produce stand. Packages and boxes will mislead you. And potentially kill you.

Eat real antioxidants? Such as:

  1. Fruits Berries (Cherry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, crowberry, blueberry, bilberry/wild blueberry, black currant), pomegranate, grape, orange, plum, pineapple, kiwi fruit, grapefruit
  2. Vegetables Kale, chili pepper, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lemon, ginger, red beets
  3. Dry Fruits high in antioxidants Apricots, prunes, dates.
  4. Legumes Broad beans, pinto beans, soybeans.
  5. Nuts and seeds Pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, ground nut or peanuts, sunflower seeds
  6. Cereals Barley, millet, oats, corn.
  7. Spices Cloves, cinnamon, oregano

If you want facts on just how bad soda is (and you doubt me), read these articles.

10 Seriously Disturbing Facts About Soda

The Facts, Stats and Dangers of Soda Pop

Drink soda? Think again. Yes, even if it's diet, sugar free, natural or whatever else big corporations think will get you to buy a can. Stick with water. And real food!

Yes, life is full of choices (7UP's tag line). Don't make soda one of them!

On to my next spy adventure. Don't get caught :).