Is Crystal Light Bad For You? A Dietitian Answers

Is Crystal Light Bad For You? A Dietitian Answers

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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to nutritional choices.

Crystal Light is a flavoring packet that’s added to water. The brand highlights the low calorie count, and claims their products can “satisfy your need for sweet refreshment.”

But is Crystal Light bad for you, or is it a healthy option? What’s actually in Crystal Light and are there any questionable additives like preservatives? Is Crystal Light Pure a healthier option than regular Crystal Light? And why was the brand recently sued about some ingredients used?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in Crystal Light and Crystal Light Pure to give our take on whether the flavoring packets are bad for you or if they’re a healthy, low-calorie option.

We’ll highlight a recent lawsuit filed against Crystal Light related to some of the ingredients used in their products.

Ingredient Analysis – Crystal Light Classics

Crystal Light Classics ingredients

The “Classics” line is the original Crystal Light product line, and the ingredients in the Strawberry Orange Banana flavor are shown above.

There are a number of ingredients in this formulation that may be questionable from a health perspective.

Citric acid is a flavoring additive that’s typically derived from a fungus according to a medical review published in the Toxicology Reports journal. The same review documents that some individuals experience whole-body inflammation after ingesting this compound.

Natural flavor and artificial flavor are broad descriptors that fail to identify the specific flavoring chemicals used. A 2013 medical review suggests that some flavoring additives and their metabolites may have toxic effects.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that was described as “possibly carcinogenic” in a report published by the World Health Organization in 2023.

Acesulfame potassium is an artificial sweetener that’s clinically shown to cause weight gain, as we documented in our article on is Zyns bad for you.

Red 40 and Blue 1 are artificial colorants, and a 2012 medical review on the toxicity of food dyes concluded the following:

“...all of the currently used dyes should be removed from the food supply and replaced, if at all, by safer colorings.”

Overall, we consider Crystal Light Classics to be bad for you. Nearly anything approved for sale as a food product can be harmless in moderation, but this product contains a large number of questionable inactive ingredients and is low in nutritional value.

Before analyzing the ingredients in Crystal Light Pure (the brand’s healthier product), we’ll explain why Crystal Light was recently sued over their ingredients.

Why Was Crystal Light Sued?

In 2022, Crystal Light was the subject of a class-action lawsuit according to Top Class Actions.

The plaintiff alleged that Crystal Light drinks were falsely marketed as natural, while containing an artificial flavor.

We don’t believe this lawsuit should concern prospective consumers, because it relates more to marketing than product safety.

Whether or not the brand is healthy depends on its ingredients, which we thoroughly overviewed in the previous section so that consumers can make an informed purchase decision.

But is Crystal Light Pure healthier than Crystal Light Classics? We’ll analyze its ingredients in the next section.

Ingredient Analysis – Crystal Light Pure

Crystal Light Pure ingredients

The ingredients in the Raspberry Lemonade flavor of Crystal Light Pure are shown above.

This product has a nearly identical formulation to Crystal Light Classics.

Citric acid, aspartame, natural flavor, artificial flavor, acesulfame potassium, Red 40 and Blue 1 are all ingredients we discussed in the previous ingredient analysis section, and are all ingredients we consider to be unhealthy.

We do not consider Crystal Light Pure to be healthier than Crystal Light Classics, and would recommend against both products.

Does Crystal Light Break a Fast?

A health and fitness influencer named Thomas DeLauer reviewed Crystal Light and other flavored water brands to see which ones break a fast, in a video with over 150,000 views:

Our Clean Flavored Water Pick

Pique Daily Radiance is our top water flavor enhancing packet.

This product comes in convenient stick packs that can be mixed into water, and is naturally flavored with nutritious, whole food ingredients like organic elderberry juice concentrate (which is clinically shown to support the immune system) and organic lemon juice concentrate.

Most importantly, Pique's flavor enhancer is entirely free of citric acid, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and flavoring additives. 

There are no ingredients in this formulation that we consider to be unhealthy.

Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


We consider Crystal Light to be bad for you, especially if consumed regularly.

Crystal Light, like most commercialized food products, can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation, but it contains a number of questionable inactive ingredients that health-conscious consumers may wish to avoid entirely.

Some of the more notable additives in Crystal Light are aspartame, artificial flavors and artificial food dye.

This is the least healthy water flavoring brand we’ve reviewed to date on Illuminate Health.

We do not consider Crystal Light Pure to be healthier than Crystal Light Classics.