If you’re at risk for heart disease, I hope you’re doing more than just drinking green tea-flavored soft drinks to reduce that risk. The Federal Drug Administration’s latest crackdown is on green tea product makers, who’ve made overreaching health claims.
The two products the FDA’s going after are Canada Dry Sparkling Green Tea Ginger Ale — which “improperly claimed to be ‘enhanced' with antioxidants" — and Unilever’s Lipton Green Tea 100% Naturally Decaffeinated — which claimed that drinking green tea led “to reduced cholesterol for people at risk of heart disease,” according to the L.A. Times. Those claims are too strong for the FDA's liking.
After all, Canada Dry's Ginger Ale’s basically soda pop — sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, no less. Drink an 8-ounce glass of Canada Dry’s stuff, and you’ll have downed 24 grams of sugar and 90 calories. That’s not exactly a healthy trade-off for whatever benefits the bit of green tea in the soft drink might lend.
And while the Lipton tea‘s a calorie-free drink (unless you add your own milk and sugar), the drink’s far from a cholesterol-lowering drug, as the packaging could be construed to imply. Reports the LA Times, “Making such a health claim makes the Lipton green tea a drug, subject to requirements for proving safety and effectiveness, the FDA told Unilever. The FDA also said the company’s description of the tea’s antioxidant content runs afoul of other federal wording rules.”
I’m a fan of green tea myself and do think there’s strong evidence that green tea has some health benefits — but also believe those benefits often get overblown on packaging health claims. And of course, I prefer to get my fair trade green tea organically grown without pesticides — and free of high fructose corn syrup. Some of my favorites are Zhena’s Gypsy Tea’s Caramelized Pear biodynamic green tea and Mellow Monk’s Top Leaf Green Tea. What is your favorite green tea?