Ribena is a popular drink renowned for its brightly coloured formula. Although children love it, many parents aren’t sure if it is healthy or not.
In order to find out whether Ribena is good or bad for you, we’ve researched its ingredients and scrutinised its nutritional profile.
What are the Ingredients in Ribena?
Before we look at the ingredients list, keep in mind that Ribena is a squash, so any flavours will be condensed down into a powerful enough formula that it still manages to emit a strong taste when diluted.
Ribena comes in a carton already diluted with water, or in a bottle as a concentrate. They also now offer ready to drink bottles to make it easier to enjoy Ribena on-the-go. They have been making their cordials since 1938.
The main flavour of Ribena enjoyed in the UK is the original blackcurrant flavour. The blackcurrant version is also available as Ribena Light. Another popular flavour in the UK is Strawberry and Strawberry Light Ribena.
The full range of juices include:
- Mango & Lime Ribena
- Pineapple & Passionfruit Ribena
- Very Berry Ribena
- Raspberry Ribena
The pre-mixed bottles of Ribena are available in sparkling Blackcurrant & Raspberry flavour. They also offer multipacks of their cartons and smaller bottles.
Ingredients in Ribena
|Ribena Blackcurrant Squash||Water, Blackcurrant Juice from Concentrate (32%), Sugar, Thickener (Polydextrose), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Gluconate), Acid (Citric Acid), Vitamin C, Extracts of (Carrot and Hibiscus), Flavourings, Preservatives (Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulphite), Sweeteners (Acesulfame K, Sucralose)|
|Ribena No Added Sugar Blackcurrant Squash||Water, Blackcurrant Juice from Concentrate (18%), Acids (Malic Acid, Citric Acid), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Gluconate), Extracts of Carrot and Hibiscus , Vitamin C, Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K), Natural Flavourings, Preservative (Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Bisulphite)|
|Ribena Blackcurrant Carton||Water, Blackcurrant Juice from Concentrate (6%), Sugar, Vitamin C, Acid (Citric Acid), Thickener (Polydextrose), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Gluconate), Flavourings, Sweeteners (Acesulfame K, Sucralose)|
|Ribena Blackcurrant No Added Sugar Carton||Water, Blackcurrant Juice from Concentrate (6%), Thickener (Polydextrose), Vitamin C, Natural Blackcurrant Flavourings , Sweeteners (Acesulfame K, Sucralose), Acid (Malic Acid)|
|Ribena – Blackcurrant (Bottle)||Water, Blackcurrant Juice from Concentrate (6%), Sugar, Vitamin C, Acid (Citric Acid), Thickener (Polydextrose), Acidity Regulator (Sodium Gluconate), Extracts of (Carrot and Hibiscus), Flavourings, Sweeteners (Acesulfame K, Sucralose)|
|Ribena Light – Blackcurrant (Bottle)||Water, Blackcurrant Juice from Concentrate (7%), Acids (Malic Acid, Citric Acid), Acidity Regulators (Calcium Hydroxide, Calcium Carbonate), Extract of Carrot and Hibiscus, Vitamin C, Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame K), Stabiliser (Xanthan Gum), Flavouring|
Notably, Ribena Blackcurrant Squash contains 32% of blackcurrant fruit juice from concentrate. This figure varies depending on the type of Ribena drink. For example, the Ribena Light version of their original blackcurrant flavour has only 7% blackcurrant juice when in pre-mixed bottle form.
There are some ingredients on the label that the average person might not recognise, so let’s take a look at those that stand out.
- Polydextrose – used as a thickener in Ribena, this is a chemically created carbohydrate that is also used as a prebiotic.
- Citric Acid – used as a flavouring and preserving agent
- Sodium Gluconate – used as an acidity regulator
Are there any preservatives in Ribena?
There are preservatives in Ribena. These are added to increase the shelf life of the product. The preservatives in Ribena include:
- Potassium Sorbate, which is an odourless and tasteless salt.
- Sodium Bisulphate – used as a PH regulator and, in this case, as a preservative.
What sugars are added to Ribena?
Apart from natural sugars found in blackcurrant juice and added sugars, Ribena also contains artificial sweeteners:
- Acesulfame K, said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar but without the calories.
- Sucralose, also known as ‘Splenda’, is said to be 600 times sweeter than sugar.
- Ribena Light contains Aspartame, the most popular sugar substitute in the world of sweet drinks.
Ribena also comes in a No Added Sugar squash version which has comparatively less sugar than the original version.
Are there any Vitamins and Minerals in Ribena?
There is Vitamin C in Ribena. Vitamin C is one of the primary healthy nutrients of blackcurrant juice. The juice of blackcurrant also contains natural antioxidants, called anthocyanins, and Blackcurrant Ribena Squash is more than 30% blackcurrant juice.
What is the Nutritional Information of Ribena?
Ribena contains no fat, which might lead you to believe that it is good for you. It does contain sugar and some salt, though.
The salt content ranges from 0.01g per 250ml in the No Added Sugar version (carton) to 0.14-0.15g per 250ml in a classic Ribena.
How many Calories are in Ribena?
The full sugar versions of Ribena drinks have between 50 and 53 kcals per 250ml. The no added sugar versions have between 6 and 11 kcals for a portion of the same size.
Just for a comparison, orange juice typically has 118 kcal per 250ml and Capri Sun has 71kcal. This makes Ribena a much better choice if you are watching your calorie intake.
What is the Sugar Content of Ribena?
The sugar content of Ribena varies across the different products they offer.
- The Blackcurrant squash has 11.5g of sugars in 250 ml serving.
- The No added sugar version has only 0.7g sugars in the same serving size.
- The Ribena Blackcurrant carton has 11.6g of sugars and the no added sugar equivalent has 1.4g carbs and 0.01g sugar (per 250 ml serving).
- A serving of Ribena (250ml) from a bottle has 11.6g of sugar
- The Ribena Light bottles have 1.3g of sugar per 250 ml.
If you imagine that one teaspoon of sugar equals approximately 4 grams, you start to see how varied the amount of sugar in each type of Ribena product is.
How much Vitamin C is in Ribena?
The Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin C is between 45-120 mg depending on your age, sex, weight, and height. Each of the different cartons, bottles, and squash drinks offered by Ribena in the Blackcurrant flavour, contain 80mg of Vitamin C per 250 ml.
Does Ribena have any health benefits?
Based on the nutritional information and ingredients provided, Ribena can help you get your body’s daily dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals in the body which can damage living cells if left unchecked.
One of Ribena’s main ingredients, blackcurrant juice comes with many health benefits but keep in mind that you are drinking diluted juice which has been heavily processed. This means that many of the beneficial compounds have been destroyed or degraded.
There are still some antioxidants anthocyanins left in Ribena, even after heavy processing though.
It’s stated on Ribena’s website that they add anthocyanins (which are naturally purple or blue) to their drinks to keep their colour consistent since blackcurrant juice naturally varies in colour.
These antioxidants are known to protect the human body against several diseases and have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, just to mention a few of their biomedicinal properties.
While there is no doubt there are some benefits of consuming Ribena drinks, we cannot ignore the fact that they contain added sugar and artificial sweeteners. Too much added sugar in your diet is not recommended so the best is to enjoy Ribena only occasionally, as part of a healthy and balanced diet. And keep in mind that artificial sweeteners are not all that innocent.
FAQs about whether Ribena is bad for you
In this section, we have outlined the commonly asked questions we hear about Ribena.
Is Ribena good for babies?
Babies should be kept away from sugary drinks, including Ribena. They are bad for their teeth and if babies get used to drinking sweet drinks regularly, they are more likely to refuse plain water which is much healthier.
Is Ribena good for pregnancy?
According to the Ribena website, there is no reason why Ribena shouldn’t be consumed while you are pregnant. Since it contains vitamin C, Ribena isn’t considered an unhealthy drink. You may wish to avoid some of the sugar by switching to the no added sugar version, however. Although this version contains artificial sweeteners which may be harmful when consumed in excess. The best is to consult your healthcare provider to make sure you are not consuming something that could be harmful.
Is Ribena Light good for you?
Ribena Light is better for you than ordinary Ribena because it contains less sugar. It has few calories, no fat, and contains 80mg of Vitamin C. It is better for you than a lot of soft drinks. However, keep in mind that it contains artificial sweeteners which have been associated with weight gain and poor gut health.