Sugar Showdown: Hard Cider vs. Junk Food

By , and Elizabeth Lowry, Staff Writer
As both temperatures and leaves continue to fall, you may have noticed grocery and liquor stores stocking up on a large variety of seasonal alcoholic drinks, including many types of hard cider. Once a niche ruled by Woodchuck and Strongbow, a quick Wikipedia search now lists more than 130 cider brews in the market and growing. Like it or not, seasonal brews are here to stay. According to IRi, a Chicago-based market research firm, cider sales grew 75 percent from November 2013 to November 2014, making it the fastest-growing beverage in the beer and flavored malt industry.

Not only is cider beer taking up more room on your grocer’s shelves, its appeal is also growing among women. It is estimated that while beer consumption tends to split about 70-30 in favor of men, cider sales are more closely split 50-50. To top it off, cider beer is also made from apples and it is gluten-free. Sounds like the perfect drink, right?

Not so fast! What many forget to take into account is the sugar content of cider beers. Cider is made from a combination of yeast and apples, which makes it a popular gluten-free choice for those who want a sweeter taste. Beer is made from yeast, hops, barley and other grains. The biggest nutritional difference between the two is the sugar content. Beer is typically sugar-free (though not carb-free), unless some sugar is added to balance out the sourness. Ciders have varying amounts of sugar because of the fermentation process, but their sugar content can be significant. Cider typically has more carbs as a result.

You might decide you really want to try a new seasonal cider anyway, regardless of the sugar content. As long as you are aware of how many calories you’re consuming and you have accounted for it, it’s okay to enjoy yourself now and then. The trick is to have these drinks in moderation; perhaps share one with a friend or drink just one instead of your usual two. Learning how to make room in your diet for the food and drinks you enjoy is the way to make it a sustainable lifestyle change.

Compare the sugar content of hard cider to the sugar content found in your favorite junk foods below.