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There is sugar all around us, but sometimes the worst kinds are hidden in plain sight. Sadly, sugar is sometimes packed into our favorite drinks, even those that are labeled as healthy, organic, low-fat, and non-fat. Although we have been accustomed to these drinks, they put us at risk of serious health issues, and unnecessary calories and carbohydrates. Seriously consider the consequences of sugar before taking that next gulp. Find out the biggest sugar culprits and why not to drink them again!
Soda is the number one sugary enemy and worst of the bunch. Sugar is extremely overused in soft drinks, creating a potentially toxic beverage that could be detrimental to your health. A regular serving of soda contains around 40 grams of sugar and 150 calories. Basically, the numbers in soda rank it as a meal, despite the fact that it doesn’t keep you full or provide any nutritional content. Plus all that sugar can lead to cavities!
Healthy Alternative: Unflavored (or naturally flavored) seltzer water is carbonated like soda, without all the sugar, calories and additives. Bubbly and refreshing, sparkling seltzer water can help keep you hydrated—and you won’t even miss soda once you make the switch. Look for brands that are naturally flavored without added sweeteners or sodium.
2. Fancy Coffees
Traditionally, a small cup of coffee is relatively healthy with low calories. When you add a moderate amount of cream and sugar it still can be somewhat healthy. But when you order fancy flavored coffees such as frappés, cappuccinos, lattes, and other specialty beverages from the big coffee chains, you are getting much more than your average pick-me-up. These designer concoctions are known for their high sugar, calorie, and caffeine count, especially the seasonal drinks. On average, a 12 ounce latte contains about 340 calories, 11 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbohydrates, and 40 grams of sugar. That’s more calories than six Chicken McNuggets, more fat than five Rice Krispy Treats, and the same amount of sugar that you’d drink from a can of soda!
Healthy Alternative: Unsweetened decaf tea (hot or iced). Rid yourself of your caffeine addiction and drink less sugar in the process! Add a healthy wedge of lemon or lime for added flavor and a fruity zing.
3. Fruit Juices
The name “fruit juice” is deceiving, although it automatically jumps out as healthy. Especially since it’s been a conventional children’s staple for years. And it’s made from fruit, right? Unfortunately, these drinks can be loaded with added sugar, including processed ingredients and food dyes.
Healthy Alternative: Be sure to read labels and avoid anything that isn’t 100% juice without added sugar. Better yet, make your own juice using fresh fruit.
4. Energy Drinks
These popular offenders are loaded with caffeine and sugar to get you going from zero to one hundred at lightning speed. They keep you alert and awake when you need to be, but they also make you crash down hard, causing you to feel worse than you were, or even sick. Energy drinks are similar to soda—with more caffeine to send you over the edge. A 12-ounce serving has about 200 calories, 46 grams of carbohydrates, and 46 grams of sugar.
Healthy Alternative: Coconut Water! This amazing drink is loaded with electrolytes and is excellent at hydrating your system.
5. Sweet Tea/Lemonade
Sweetened tea ruins the pureness and herbal healing that tea can provide, especially with green and black tea. Tea contains antioxidants that have many health benefits. Tea that is bottled, canned, or powdered should be avoided at all costs. A restaurant sized glass of sweet tea contains 220 calories, 54 grams of carbohydrates, and 54 grams of sugar! That’s more sugar than five cinnamon rolls!
Healthy Alternative: Unsweetened decaf tea or fresh lemon water. Try chamomile or Echinacea tea to refresh, detox, and clarify your body. Or try a DIY fruit blend. Mix ice with fresh fruit. Add lemon and lime for a cool drink—great after a long day or workout!
Remember to think before you drink! Avoid sugary drinks and stick to the healthy alternatives to stay hydrated. You don’t need sugar, and you’ll do much better without it.
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