Did you know sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading sources of added sugars in American diets? Drinking sugary drinks has been associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay, and more.
What are sugar-sweetened beverages?
Sugar-sweetened beverages are any liquids that are sweetened with added sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose.
To properly hydrate your body, you should drink water every day. Most doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists recommend drinking eight 8-oz glasses of water each day (that’s about a half-gallon). It may seem like a lot, but it’s easier to do than you think. After all, up to 60% of your body is water. Even though your taste buds may crave a sweetened beverage, your body needs something natural and refreshing.
Daily sugar recommendations
It can be very easy to lose track of your daily calorie and sugar intake when drinking juices, soda, and sports drinks. They are full of added sugars and empty calories (have little to no nutritional value).
These are the maximum daily limit recommendations for beverages with added refined sugars:
- Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar)
- Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar)
Even drinks with natural sugars should be consumed in moderation. Remember, sugar, whether natural or refined, has calories. For example, a serving of unsweetened orange juice has 175 calories and 32 grams of sugar. A serving of unsweetened grape juice has 226 calories and 54 grams of sugar. Moderation is key when drinking sweet beverages.
The not-so-sweet facts about sugary beverages
Before opening a can of soda, drinking lemonade on a hot day, or getting a flavored drink, consider what you’re putting in your body. Sure, it may taste good. And yes, it’s ok to treat yourself now and then but it’s important to realize how much sugar and calories are in these drinks. Look at the calories and sugar content of these common sweetened beverages (based on a 12-oz serving):
- Soda: 151 calories and 39 grams of sugar
- Sweetened iced tea: 143 calories and 34 grams of sugar
- Fruit punch: 175 calories and 42 grams of sugar
- Lemonade: 148 calories and 37 grams of sugar
- Sports beverage: 118 calories and 23 grams of sugar
The Holidays: ‘Tis the season for celebration . . . and sugar!
This time of year is known for delicious drinks that delight. So, go ahead and enjoy some eggnog, flavored coffee, or that glass of wine. But be mindful of the calories and always be sure you’re drinking sufficient water. Your body will love you for it.
Before having that second serving of apple cider or eggnog, consider the nutritional value. Here are the calorie and sugar content for some popular holiday drinks:
- Wine: Between 75-200 calories and 1.2-2.4 grams of sugar per serving
- Eggnog: 343 calories and 21.4 grams of sugar per one-cup serving
- Apple cider: 180 calories and 40.2 grams of sugar per 12-oz. serving
- Hot buttered rum: 350 calories and 28 grams of sugar per 8-oz. serving
- White Russian drink: 179 calories and 58 grams of sugar in a less than a 7-oz. serving
Why water is your best choice
Water hydrates – sugars don’t, and excess sugar can dehydrate you. Water is the healthiest option that can benefit your body in many ways, including:
- Energize your muscles
- Boost your metabolism
- Act as an appetite suppressant
- Keep your skin looking good
- Flush harmful toxins out of your system
- Lubricate your joints
- Help maintain optimal blood pressure levels
So, why not reach for a refreshing glass of water instead of those high-calorie sugary drinks? If you are having trouble drinking the recommended amount of water, flavor it by adding fruits, flavored powders, herbs, or try sparkling water. To help you drink a little more water, drink it with every snack or meal, and keep a bottle with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag to sip on it throughout the day. Drink up and enjoy some H2O!
This blog was written by Casey Hemphill, USPM Nutrition Content Contributor