Soda is one of the worst things for your health. And if you’ve decided to swap your soda needs with an energy drink or fruit juice, you are doing your body a huge favor. But in some cases, these “healthy drinks” are as bad as soda.
While these commercially-produced drinks are marketed as a healthy option, they actually contain loads of artificial sweeteners and flavors, added sugars, chemical additives, and preservatives, not to mention calories in most cases. And, that’s terrible for your body. Consumption of added sugars has increased coincident with increased body weights and energy intakes in the US population.1 Sugar and other caloric sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup are considered as the main cause of the obesity epidemic.2 So, it’s crucial that you stay away from these seven unhealthy drinks.
1. Sports And Energy Drinks
Most energy drinks and sports drinks contain natural and artificial sweeteners, besides various additives. Typically, a bottle of sports drink may contain more than 50 grams of sugar, which usually makes it to the second ingredient spot, after water, on the ingredients label.
Energy and sports drinks also often contain high doses of caffeine and sugar. Although they’re low on calories, a cup (8-ounce) of these drinks can contain over 25 grams of sugar. Research points to the fact that too much caffeine can lead to arrhythmia, chest pain and even death. Various studies have even linked caffeine overdose to panic attacks.3
Professional athletes who drink these products require the sugar-supplied carbs that give them energy during the tough workout. So, if you’re not a professional athlete, you don’t really need these drinks.
2. Fruit Juices And Smoothies
Although fruits are a great source of fiber, fruit juices are devoid of it. As if that’s not enough, they’re made worse by the presence of added sugars, additives, and preservatives. For instance, 4 cups (32-ounce) of smoothie may have almost 700 calories with less than two grams of protein because of its high sugar content.
It’s the same as eating an entire mango and a pineapple, plus a cup each of blueberries and strawberries in one go! The problem is, when you eat more calories than you burn, they accumulate in your fat cells and lead to obesity.
Even drinks that are labeled as “100% fruit juice” and “no added sugars” are still high in sugars. For this reason, though smoothies are full of fruit content, too much fruit contributes to calories and sugar, causing blood sugar spikes and crashes.
3. Flavored Waters
Drinking flavored water has become a fad these days. Isn’t water good enough to drink as it is? Some flavored water brands may claim that they contain nutrients and vitamins. Yet, it’s nothing more than sugar water. Some flavored water brands may contain as much as 7 teaspoons (30 grams) of sugar.
Though they may not have added sugar, they must be artificially flavored, which is achieved by including artificial sweeteners. Even if it’s made of natural calorie-free sweeteners like stevia, it still doesn’t make it healthy.
Some studies have shown that sweet taste can spur cravings for more sweet.4 Drinking plain water is any day healthier and if you must flavor it for reasons best known to you, try infusing it with a slice of lemon or mint or a piece of any fruit.
4. Frozen Cocktails
In the scorching summer heat, frozen cocktails may seem like a blessing. But, when it comes to these frozen alcoholic drinks, they can be really unhealthy. According to the USDA, 2 cups or a pint (16-ounce) of pina colada can contain an incredible 880 calories.
These cocktails can be really bad for your health as the alcohol is directly absorbed into the bloodstream. This results in your glucose levels shooting up real fast.
Moreover, it does not get digested like other normal foods do. To complicate matters, added sugars in these alcoholic drinks can cause havoc with your health.
Many people consider lemonade as a healthier option to soda. That’s true if you make lemonade at home using real lemons and without sugar. But, if you’re buying commercially available lemonade, you can’t be farther from the truth.
That’s because these commercially manufactured varieties contain the same sweeteners used in soda, besides containing preservatives and artificial colors. In reality, these lemonades are nothing but liquid candy as a single cup can contain 100 calories, around six teaspoons of sugar and zero nutrients. That’s potentially dangerous.
If you thought the powdered lemonade drink mix is safer, they also contain sugar and fructose, in addition to artificial colors. So, instead of buying such products, prepare your lemonade at home with minimal or no sugar.
6. Fancy Coffee Drinks
Undoubtedly, coffee has certain health benefits. But, today, this drink has been manipulated and innumerable fancy varieties have taken over the market. Coffee is generally somewhat bitter to taste. But, these fancy coffees actually taste quite sweet, which points to the presence of sugar in high quantities.
A large cup of coffee blended with 2-percent milk and sugar can contain almost 800 calories, which amounts to 1/3 of the maximum recommended intake of saturated fat. Many varieties of coffee may have over 170 grams of sugar making it more of a sugary drink than a caffeinated beverage.
Some varieties also come with whipped cream topping, which only causes your waistline to bloat. For instance, a grande white chocolate mocha Frappuccino contains 67 grams of sugar, while a medium-sized vanilla latte is better off with 35 grams of sugar. Regular coffee with milk, containing minimal sugar or cinnamon or nutmeg is a far healthier option.
7. Sweetened Yogurt Drinks
Yogurt is a healthy food that helps you maintain an ideal balance of the intestinal microflora. Probiotic foods such as yogurt are even recommended by experts to be included in your daily diet. But, the manufacturing industry has managed to tamper with this fantastic food by adding sugars, flavors, and other chemical substances that improve shelf life or enhance flavor.
Studies have shown that many people prefer yogurt that contains at least 7 percent or a maximum of 10 percent sugars.5 This is exactly what makes sweetened yogurt drinks unhealthy. Though they are healthy, the artificial sweeteners and flavors ruin it for you. A bottle of sweetened yogurt may contain 26 grams of sugar in its multitude of forms such as sugar, fructose, and fruit puree or juice.
On the other hand, a typical 1-cup serving of plain yogurt will have around 12 grams, which is less than half of what is found in sweetened yogurts. So, the healthiest option is for you to go for the plain versions of yogurt as the only sugar they contain comes from the milk itself.
|↑1||Vartanian, Lenny R., Marlene B. Schwartz, and Kelly D. Brownell. “Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” American journal of public health 97, no. 4 (2007): 667-675.|
|↑2, ↑4||Yang, Qing. “Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010.” The Yale journal of biology and medicine 83, no. 2 (2010): 101.|
|↑3||Tetens, Inge. EFSA NDA Panel (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies), 2015. Scientific Opinion on the safety of caffeine. Europen Food Safety Authority, 2015.|
|↑5||Chollet, M., D. Gille, A. Schmid, B. Walther, and P. Piccinali. “Acceptance of sugar reduction in flavored yogurt.” Journal of dairy science 96, no. 9 (2013): 5501-5511.|