Beverage Alternatives to Soda
Sunny days might make you reach for a frosty soda, but before you grab another soft drink from the cooler, think about the nutritional impact of your favorite sugary beverage. Sodas are packed with sugar, and while your body needs some amount of sugar for energy, a single can of regular cola contains nearly an entire day’s worth of the recommended daily allotment. Instead of sipping on soft drinks to quench your thirst, try these healthier alternatives while you lounge at the pool this summer.
Unsweetened iced teas, both black and green varieties, can quench your thirst without spiking your blood sugar levels. If you need something a little sweeter, try adding in sweet fruits like strawberries or oranges to flavor your tea. Honey can be added in moderation, but keep the add-ins light to maximize the benefit of your brew. Green tea offers a host of nutritional benefits apart from replacing your soda habit, including a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart disease, cavities and high blood pressure. Tea is a zero-calorie nutritional boost to any diet.
If you’re like most adults, then you probably don’t get enough fruit. Skipping an apple a day can rob you of critical nutrients, such as vitamin C and antioxidants. Incorporate more fruit into your diet by replacing soft drinks with homemade fruit-based beverages, such as punched-up water, smoothies and blended juice beverages. If you don’t care for plain water, mix in bright fruits to punch up the flavor without adding unnecessary sugar. Fruit contains a lot of sugar, but your body can use the fiber and other nutrients contained in fruit more efficiently than the corn syrup found in soft drinks.
Avoid fruit juices, even those made with 100 percent juice. The sugar content can be just as high – or higher – than an average soda, and there’s little fiber to offset the impact. Make your own juice from freshly squeezed whole fruits instead.
If you’re addicted to the fizz of your typical soda, then replace your daily soft drink splurge with a flavored seltzer water instead. There are natural versions that lack the sugar and artificial flavoring of house-brand varieties, but you can also make your own by using natural syrups to flavor plain seltzer water. Investing in a soda maker could be a good option for you if you need the bubbly bliss of a regular soda without the calories and guilt. Just remember to take it easy when drinking seltzer water. Carbonation wreaks havoc on your teeth, so maintain good oral hygiene if you’re not willing to give up your sparkling beverages.
There are plenty of good reasons to ditch your soda habit. Research suggests that cutting out one sugary beverage a day can cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25 percent. Next time you’re packing for a day at the beach or getting ready to host a barbecue, swap out your usual soda lineup for healthier options that will hydrate your body without adding to your waistline.