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Cut the Cola: 10 Healthy (and Delicious) Soda Substitutes

Bevi / July, 19, 2018 Blog / Wellness

Ditch those diet colas and check out this list of soda substitutes that’ll make your taste buds pop. From low-calorie sparkling water to probiotic-rich kombucha, you’ll be cutting the cola in no time!

For long-time Diet Coke or Mountain Dew fanatics, the idea of finding a healthy alternative to soda may seem a nearly impossible task. Yet even in spite of soda’s semi-addictive qualities, more and more Americans are managing to leave their soda-popping days behind them.

Back in 1998, soda consumption in the US reached an all time high with over 54 million gallons consumed per capita. Luckily, after almost two decades of public health initiatives, Americans have begun to ditch the sugar-filled fizz, with soda consumption hitting a 31-year-low in 2017.

Source: Business Insider

Some soda companies have attempted to combat these downward trends by rebranding, adding more flavor variety, or shrinking the bottle or can size. So while soda consumption continues to decline, the temptation of sugary fountain drinks and sleek, diet soda cans persists.

It’s time to quit soda and start sipping something good: check out this handy list of healthy soda substitutes (with and without sugar) that’ll satisfy your craving for carbonation, flavor, or both!

1. Arnold Palmer Lite

A refreshing twist of iced tea and lemonade, Arnold Palmer Lite is a slightly sweetened drink with just 13 grams of sugar in a 20 serving (compared to Coke’s 60 grams) that will help ease the transition from heavily sweetened beverages.

2. Tea – iced or hot

Tea is an extremely broad and varied beverage category, with an extensive variety of flavor profiles, caffeine levels, and ways to enjoy that it’s likely one of the best soda substitutes on this list. Simply put, there’s a tea out there for everyone! Perfect for any season or time of day, tea is a versatile soda substitute and easy way to enjoy flavored beverages with little to no calories.

3. Freshly-squeezed lemonade

A classic summertime pick-me-up, fresh lemonade—maybe with a dash of cane sugar or agave nectar for a hint of sweetness—has enough citrusy flavor to help wash away those memories of your soda guzzling days.

4. Sparkling water

After decades of public health initiatives, consumers are leaving sugary soda behind for its sleeker, healthier counterpart: flavored sparkling water. Nowadays, sparkling water makers are everywhere, from homes to offices, hotels to restaurants. Rather than buying bottles and cans, avid sparkling water drinkers often invest in carbonated water dispensers to mitigate the environmental impact of buying cases of fizzy water. Now that’s some savvy sipping!

5. Kombucha

Kombucha is a recent health trend that shows no signs of fizzling out. While its poignant flavor is not for everyone, Kombucha typically contains little to no sugar and has the added benefit of probiotics, which are known to promote gut health. Most grocery stores now sell bottles of Kombucha, with some health food stores even offering it on tap.

6. Sparkling water with a splash of juice

Perfect for brunch, sparkling water with a splash of orange, cranberry, or mango juice is a great non alcoholic, low-calorie alternative to Mimosas or Bellinis at brunch.

7. Maple water

Nope, this is not the sugary, sticky syrup you put on your favorite breakfast foods. Maple water is unprocessed maple tree sap that is around 98 percent water and free of additives and preservatives. Around 15 calories per 8 oz glass, maple water contains just a tiny amount of sugar, with a refreshing subtle flavor that’ll have you saying “Oh tap!” (If you can’t find maple water in your area, you can order it online here.)

8. Fruit and herb infusions

A slightly more labor- and time- intensive beverage, infusions are a great way to use up any extra fruit and herbs in your fridge before they spoil. Simply chop whatever fruit and herbs you have, throw them in a pitcher or reusable water bottle, and you’ll be sipping on some fruity goodness in just a few hours. If you enjoy fruit flavors, but don’t want the sugar rush of juice, infusions are the way to go!

9. Coconut water

Like Kombucha, Coconut water is a health fad and popular healthy substitute for soda that’s been on the scene for a few years now. Not to be confused with coconut milk, Coconut water is a natural source of potassium and electrolytes, making it the perfect tropical alternative to plain water.

10. Mineral water

Balanced in taste and mouthfeel, mineral water contains zero calories and has the added nutritional benefit of minerals such as calcium, magnesium sulphate and sodium sulphate (note: minerals may vary depending on brand.) Despite its close association with fine dining, mineral water is an everyday soda substitute that’s sold at most grocery stores and online. Fair warning: it’s on the pricier side!

Of all the options for drinks out there, soda is still pretty popular. In fact, it turns out that half of all Americans drink soda every single day and among those people, the average daily intake was 2.6 glasses. This is concerning because of how unhealthy soda is and the obesity epidemic in the United States.

It can be difficult to kick the habit of drinking soda every day, but it can be easier when there are alternatives to replace it with. Here is a list of some healthier alternatives to drink when you’re craving a soda.

1. Iced Tea

Claire Waggoner

Iced tea can be great to drink when you’re craving soda because of how sweet it is. It’s sweet enough to satisfy your sugar cravings but doesn’t contain as much sugar as soda (depending on the brand). It also has caffeine (similar to soda) to give you an extra boost during the day. Of course, it’s best to enjoy iced tea unsweetened if you really want to decrease your sugar intake.

You can enjoy any kind of tea that you prefer, such as green, herbal or black. Making your own iced tea is a great way to control the amount of sugar in the drink — use honey instead of sugar to make it even healthier.

2. Sparkling Water with Fruit

If the fizziness is what you like about soda, sparkling water can be a great alternative. Sparkling water is just carbonated water, so it does not contain any sugar or calories. It can be pretty plain on its own so add some fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries, lemon, or orange, to bring in some flavor without adding any sugar.

3. Iced Coffee

Gabby Phi

If you prefer to have coffee over tea, iced coffee can be a great drink to have when you’re craving a soda. As long as you make sure you’re not adding tons of sugar to the coffee, iced coffee can be a refreshing drink to enjoy on a hot day (or whenever). Coffee will give you a better caffeine boost than soda, which will perk you up and help you focus.

4. Sparkling Water with Juice

Sparkling water with juice is similar to having it with fruit except with juice, the fruit flavor is more prominent in the drink. The fizziness of the sparkling water mixed with the flavor of the juice creates a drink that tastes very similar to soda. Make sure to use a juice without any added sugar or you’ll have a drink that’s almost just as bad for you as soda.

5. Water

Jocelyn Hsu

This may seem like an obvious answer, but honestly, nothing is healthier than a plain glass of water. It may not have the sweetness or the fizz that’s associated with soda, but it is more refreshing and is generally easily accessible. This drink may not be the best choice when you first begin to wean yourself off of soda as the taste is dramatically different, but it can be something to work up to.

6. Kombucha

Taylor Lashley

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that contains sugar, bacteria, and yeast. The tea is fermented by adding the bacteria and yeast to a tea and sugar mixture. Even with the sugar, kombucha has some potential health benefits that are similar to what probiotics do in the body (preventing constipation). The fermentation in the kombucha makes it fizzy so you get the same feel as you would with drinking a soda.

7. Homemade Smoothie

Christin Urso

I specify homemade because some store-bought smoothies are loaded with added sugar, so making your own is better because you know exactly what goes into it. The sweetness from the smoothie may help with the soda cravings and helps you get in your daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Making your own smoothies allows you to get creative and use whatever your heart desires to form your favorite flavor.

8. Coconut Water

Coconut water can be a great alternative to soda because it’s very refreshing and sweet. However, make sure to buy coconut water that has no added sugar in it (directly from the coconut is best). Adding too much sugar to the water defeats the purpose of its healthy benefits, like the electrolytes that can help to rehydrate and restore balance to your body on a hot summer day.

It can be hard to stop drinking soda once you get into the habit of drinking it every day but with this list of drinks to drink when you’re craving soda, it gets a little bit easier.

7 Soda Alternatives That Won’t Bust Your Wallet — Or Your Waistline

Wise Bread Picks

One thing that is hard to give up is soda — but for your health, and the health of your wallet, you really should try. Each time you go out to eat, a soda will add about $3 on your bill per person. In 2012, U.S. households spent $850 a year on soft drinks alone.

As far as health disadvantages, drinking soda regularly can increase belly fat, decrease bone strength, and can increase cavities and gum disease. Soda has been linked to diabetes, obesity, cancer, and high blood pressure. Not only are these health issues scary, but they are also very costly to manage. Don’t think that switching to diet will help you out either, since diet soda can be even worse for you with its artificial sweeteners.

Kicking your soda habit is the best thing to do for your health and wallet, but that is definitely easier said than done. Here are some frugal ways to satisfy your soda craving without risking your health.

1. Kombucha

If you have never had kombucha, then prepare yourself for a very strong drink. I could not take more than three sips of my first kombucha, but now I actually enjoy certain flavors, like Kevita’s Mojita Lime Mint Coconut. Not only can kombucha satisfy your soda craving, but it can also aid in digestion because it is full of healthy bacteria. Kombucha is not the cheapest alternative to soda, unless you make your own. Buy a few when there is a coupon or when there is an iBotta offer.

2. Healthier, Homemade Sprite

You can make your own healthier soda by mixing sparkling water, a squeeze of lemon and lime juice, and stevia (or your favorite sweetener) to taste. In my opinion, it tastes very similar to Sprite, but much more refreshing. Obviously if you are drinking soda all day, every day, you will need to allow your taste buds time to adjust.

3. Other Healthy Soda Recipes

If Sprite is not your favorite soda, then here are a few other mixes to try:

  • Root beer: Mix sparkling water with a few drops of root beer extract (use organic if you want to avoid chemicals), and sweetener to taste.
  • Mountain Dew: Mix two cups of sparkling water with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon of grated ginger, and sweetener to taste. If you enjoy this drink, try increasing the amount of apple cider vinegar over time to increase your health benefits. Apple cider vinegar can help prevent diabetes, lower cholesterol, and give you an extra energy boost.
  • Cherry-vanilla: Heat two cups of cherry juice with one vanilla bean (split the bean and scrape out the seeds and pod) and one cup of sweetener of your choice (use less for stevia extract).
  • Strawberry: Blend one cup of strawberries with ¼ cup of honey (or sweetener of your choice). Put two tablespoons of this mixture into a cup and pour sparkling water on top. Use frozen strawberries for a colder drink.

4. Juice and Seltzer

Another easy alternative to soda is mixing one part juice to two parts seltzer water. Use juices that are 100% juice. Pure pomegranate and cherry juice will give your soda an extra health boost.

5. Flavored Sparkling Water to Go

It is not always convenient to make your own soda, especially if you are traveling. Flavored sparkling water will give you the carbonation and sweetness you are craving. My favorite is the coconut flavored La Croix because when it is really cold, it reminds me of a Coke. Check the labels on sparkling water and make sure that the ingredients are only water and flavoring. Avoid any that have sugar or artificial sweeteners in them.

If you need a soda alternative that has caffeine, then the Bai waters are tasty and have as much caffeine as tea. Costco regularly has coupons for Bai water.

6. Green Tea

If you drink soda strictly for caffeine reasons, try going with unsweetened green tea. It will be a big switch on your taste buds at first, but the caffeine from green tea is a little gentler on the system compared to soda and coffee. Green tea is also full of antioxidants and can reduce your cancer risk. The easiest way to get green tea on the go is to pop a tea bag into a water bottle and let it sit for about 20–30 minutes.

7. Spruce Up Your Water

Perhaps you are continually reaching for soda to quench your thirst. Many people will avoid water because they find the taste boring. Try adding fresh cut up fruit or vegetables to make your water have more flavor. Some options to try are cucumbers, strawberries, lemon, lime, oranges, grapefruit, and mint. Mint water can help promote your digestion and reduce inflammation.

Tips to Kick the Soda Habit for Good

When you are trying to kick your soda habit, you don’t want to just replace it with another bad habit. For example, if you use five cups of soda to get you through the day, then switching to five cups of coffee is not going to do anything for your budget or health.

The best thing to do is to try to change your taste buds and decrease your cravings. For example, if you drink three cups of soda a day, try replacing one cup with just plain water, and the other two cups with one of the healthier alternatives.

See also: How Being Healthy Saves You Money (And Why Bad Health Habits Cost You)

If you are used to having a big cup of soda always at your hand, then put ice water in the same type of cup. You will reach for the water out of habit, and it will take a few days to accept the water as a suitable substitute. Prepare yourself for a few days of withdrawal headaches, knowing that these get worse before they get better.

What are your favorite alternatives to soda?

20 New Drinks That Make It Easy to Quit Soda

It’s no news that soda can derail your fitness goals. What increases the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease? If you guessed soda, you’re spot on. (Did the headline give it away?) According to a Journal of the American College of Cardiology report, the bubbly beverage really does live up to its villainous reputation. And if you think you’ve got nothing to worry about because you only sip a can or two per day, you’ve got things all wrong. Researchers had found that drinking just one serving of pop a day can increase the risk of fatal heart disease or heart attack by a whopping 35 percent. No fizzy drink is worth that risk—which is why you should seek out soda alternatives ASAP.

However, diet soda drinkers aren’t safe either, mainly because the beverages are filled with potentially carcinogenic chemicals like caramel coloring (which is present in the regular varieties, too) and artificial sweeteners. “Even though diet drinks are calorie-free, they cause insulin to be released in your gut because their artificial sweeteners are sweet like sugar,” says registered dietitian Miriam Jacobson. “Insulin is your body’s primary fat-storage hormone, so consuming it will cause the body to hold onto any extra fat.”

While your go-to source of hydration throughout the day should be water, it can be tough to go cold turkey if soda’s been a part of your routine for a while. While coffee, detox water, and tea can make the transition to a soda-free life easier, sometimes you just want to grab something with a bit of fizz or flavor that’s ready-to-drink. Thankfully there are tons of new healthy soda alternatives flooding the market that fit that very description, and we’ve got the scoop on the best of them.

1

Spindrift

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Nutrition, per can: 2-17 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0-20 mg carbs, 0-2 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

There are nine different flavors of Spindrift sparkling soda, all of which contain between zero and two grams of sugar. Eight of such flavors all embody delicious fruits, with fruit puree sweetening the fizzy drink. The flavor that sticks out among its counterparts is the Half & Half variety, which is a sugar-free lemonade and iced tea mixture. Fresh lemon juice and brewed black tea are splashed in carbonated water to achieve a refreshing drink.

2

Pepsi Bubly

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Nutrition, per can: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

Bubly is Pepsi’s sparkling water brand, and the cheerful cans aren’t the only thing that’ll make you smile. The line comes in 12 different flavors, including grapefruit, apple, orange, and cherry just to name a few. Replace a sugary soda with this carbonated beverage, and your flat belly goals won’t seem as unattainable.

3

Polar Seltzer

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Nutrition, per bottle: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

Do you know what the difference between club soda, seltzer, and sparkling water is? Believe it or not, the words are not interchangeable even though there are only very slight differences between the three. Seltzer has roots in Germany and, at the time, was pulled from a natural spring. While that may not be the case for all seltzer waters you see on the market today, Polar Seltzer water offers a long list of different, refreshing flavors, none of which cost you any calories.

4

Humm Kombucha

Courtesy of Humm

Nutrition, per can: 25 calories, 0 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 5 g sugar

Added sweeteners: Agave nectar

Kombucha is the bubbly, antioxidant-rich, and probiotic-infused drink that serves as a great alternative to soda. Soda falls under a category of food and drink called empty calories because it literally provides zero nutritional value, but costs you a good amount of calories and tacks on an inordinate amount of added sugar. Thankfully, Humm, based out of Bend, Oregon, recently released a lower-sugar kombucha, with two flavors including Ginger Juniper and Raspberry Hops.

5

La Croix Sparkling Water

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Nutrition, per bottle: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

Sure, the cans may look like something that’s filled with the latest boozy drinks coveted by festival-going college kids, but ask anyone who’s tried a can of the stuff (both young and old) and they’ll tell you: LaCroix sparkling water is straight up delicious. The bubbles are light and frothy and the flavor is just intense enough to be pleasing. It’s really no wonder that the drink has assumed a cult-like following.

6

Bai Lemonade

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Nutrition, per bottle: 5 calories, 5 mg sodium, 6-9 g carbs, 1 g sugar

Added sweeteners: Erythritol, stevia extract

The bulk of Bai’s beverages are made with white tea extract (which has been shown to break down fat) and various fruit extracts, and they’re all addictively delicious. Some of our favorites are the lemonade varieties. Burundi Blueberry, Limu Lemon, and São Paulo Strawberry Lemon make us feel like we’re drinking a far healthier version of a summery lemonade.

7

Perrier Sparkling Water

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Nutrition, per can: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

Perrier has been around since 1863, making it the longest standing company on this list. Today, the sparkling mineral water company produces eight different flavors of sparkling water, including green apple, peach, and even a hybrid of lemon and orange cleverly called, L’Orange. You won’t miss the sugar in these bubbly beverages.

8

Sparkling Bitters

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Nutrition, per bottle: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

While the name may be a bit off-putting (who wants to drink something bitter?!), don’t let that scare you away from this trendy elixir. This drink is made by blending sparkling water with the highly concentrated liquid extractions of herbs, roots, and fruit. (If you’re into craft cocktails, you’ve likely had bitters in boozy drinks like the Manhattan and the Sazerac.) Think of these bottles as the cooler younger sibling of tired seltzer.

9

Runa Zero Energy Drinks

Courtesy of Runa

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Nutrition, per bottle: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

If you want something that’s totally free of calories and sugar, Runa has got you covered. The company boasts six different flavors of energy drinks, three of which fall under the Zero energy drink category. The blood orange, watermelon, and lime varieties all have zero calories and sugar. What separates this energy drink from others, though, is that they’re all made from guayusa leaves—a plant that’s native to the Amazon rainforest with double the antioxidant capacity as green tea. They also all have 150 mg of caffeine, which is much more than the typical 95 mg a standard 8-ounce cup of coffee houses.

10

Upruit Sparkling Cold-Brew Coffee

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Nutrition, per can: 45-60 calories, 5-10 mg sodium, 12-15 g carbs, 9 g sugars

Added sweeteners: Maple syrup

Perhaps the best way to receive a burst of energy instantly (and in a healthy manner) would be to drink a cup or two of coffee. Ditch the added sugar-filled can of soda and opt for a can of Upruit’s naturally flavored sparkling cold-brew instead! We love this drink because you get that desired fizzy of texture along with 100 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to what you would get in a cup of coffee. The only added sweetener in these drinks is maple syrup, but even then the 11-ounce drink has nearly 4.25 times less sugar than what a 12-ounce can of Sprite contains at 38 grams.

11

Tickle Water

Courtesy of Tickle

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Nutrition, per bottle: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

It may be the first-ever sparkling water for kids, but even we are big Tickle Water fans. One staffer who tried the stuff said the cola flavor tasted “like sparkling water with a splash of Coke” but still thought it was a great soda alternative despite the less-intense flavor.”

12

Vertical Maple Water

Nutrition, per container: 15 calories, 10 mg sodium, 3 g carbs, 3 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

Before Maple tree sap is boiled down to the consistency and sweetness of pancake syrup, it’s far thinner and less sugary. So, a handful of companies began pasteurizing and bottling the stuff, which they’ve aptly named maple water. It’s more or less like water, but it’s slightly thicker and carries a hint of sweetness. It carries a bit of added nutrition, too. A bottle provides 30 percent of the day’s manganese, a trace mineral that staves off disease-causing free radicals, reduces inflammation, and helps to maintain proper nerve function. According to the company’s website, “Vertical Water is 100 percent pure and is the only U.S.-sourced maple water that is Non-GMO Project Verified.”

13

Hint Kick

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Nutrition, per bottle: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

Hint Water may not be carbonated, cola-flavored, or sold in 64-ounce Big Gulps, but these new(ish) flavored bottled waters do have 60 milligrams of caffeine derived from coffee beans. That’s more than you’ll find in Diet Dr. Pepper (41 mg) or Mountain Dew (54 mg), so you’re sure to get the jolt your of energy your body needs—without having to down a bunch of chemicals or brew up a cup of coffee. Try the Lemon Cayenne Hint Kick (and don’t overdo it, since caffeine can dehydrate you), and you’ll probably never go back to Coke again.

14

Wtrmln Wtr

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Nutrition, per bottle: 60 calories, 0 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 12 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

One of her albums may be called Lemonade, but Beyoncé promotes another kind of drink, too. Queen B has invested in WTRMLN WTR, a pressed juice with just three ingredients: watermelon flesh and rind, and lemon. Not only is it light and refreshing, but it’s also a functional beverage to boot. In a study of Spanish athletes, researchers found that watermelon juice can diminish post-workout soreness, likely thanks to its high potassium and magnesium content, two electrolytes that aid hydration, muscle relaxation, and restorative sleep, explains Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN. Sure the sugar count in the beverage is higher than in some flavored waters, but all of the sweet stuff comes from fruit. Simply put: Don’t sweat it.

15

Sparkling Live Drinking Vinegars

Nutrition, per bottle: 15 calories, 0 mg sodium, 3-4 g carbs, 2-5 g sugar

Added sweeteners: Stevia

By combining carbonated water, apple cider vinegar (ACV), coconut, whole fruit juice concentrate, and stevia, Sparking Live has created a gut-happy beverage that’s light in calories yet full of flavor. For years, health foodies and svelte celebs have said that ACV is their flat belly secret—and research published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, Biochemistry explains why. In the study, participants who were given two tablespoons of ACV over a 12-week period lost more weight, body fat, and inches from their middle section than participants that were given just one tablespoon or a placebo. While the results were not terribly dramatic (they only lost about 3.7 pounds), the participants were not given an exercise or diet regimen to follow, which would have helped them shed additional weight.

16

Zevia Sodas & Energy Drinks

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Nutrition, per can: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: Stevia

This small company, founded by soda-loving parents who wanted something healthier for their children, distributes a variety of classic flavors, from cola to ginger ale to grape, without using artificial sweeteners or colors. Depending on which you pick, some of these sodas have a touch of caffeine. The flavor Dr. Zevia, for example, packs 42 milligrams of caffeine, which is about a little less than half of what a cup of joe would offer. The strawberry flavor, however, doesn’t have a single trace of caffeine, which makes it an ideal option for those later afternoon soda cravings without having to jeopardize your sleep.

17

Bai Bubbles

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Nutrition, per bottle: 5 calories, 10-40 mg sodium, 9-11 g carbs, 1 g sugar

Added sweeteners: Erythritol, stevia extract

Bai Bubbles, which comes in flavors like Guatemala Guava, Jamaica Blood Orange, and Bolivia Black Cherry, are sweetened with fruit juice, erythritol, and stevia and powered by 45 milligrams of caffeine, thanks to the tea and coffee fruit. They’re delicious enjoyed straight-up or as a mixer.

18

Sparkling Ice

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Nutrition, per bottle: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

There are 16 different flavors of Sparkling Ice, all of which pack various different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and D and even biotin. These beverages are both fantastic on their own and also make for great mixers!

19

S. Pellegrino

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Nutrition, per bottle: 0 calories, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

Added sweeteners: N/A

This classic sparkling drink is made purely from natural mineral water. Similar to Perrier, S. Pellegrino has been around for more than 100 years, with its foundations beginning in Italy in 1899. Pop open a bottle of this smooth, fizzy, no-calorie refreshment.

20

Detox Water

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Nutrition, per bottle: 30 calories, 29 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 8 g sugar

Added sweeteners: Organic agave nectar, organic stevia

By adding fruits that have detoxifying properties in their flesh and peels to water, you can sip your way slim with the right kind of detox water. What could be more awesome than that? Well, Detox Water comes close by taking the legwork out of the equation. To create their signature beverages, the drink combines water, agave, fruit juice flavors, and aloe vera (a potent skin firmer and fat burner), stevia and vitamins (like 14-18 percent of your day’s vitamin B6 and B12). While it’s more caloric than making a batch of detox water at home, it’s not a bad runner-up if you don’t have time to make it yourself.

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In Australia, the recommended intake of sugar for an adult is 10 teaspoons or about 40g a day. These low sugar drinks will help you keep your sugar intake low while keeping your tastebuds happy. Now tell me, when was the last time you stopped at having just over half of your 600ml (20 fl oz) bottle of Coke?

My inspiration for this post came from reading David Gillespie’s two books: Sweet Poison and Big Fat Lies over the weekend. I have a gut feeling that he is right. And while not everyone may agree with David’s research, after all “he is a lawyer, not a dietitian”, I don’t see much harm in swapping out a glass of Coke for a refreshing low sugar drink alternative. Do you?

So here it is, a run down of the 6 most popular sugar-laden “junk” drinks and a way how you can make tasty and healthy low sugar drinks alternatives. With some commercially-made low sugar drink suggestions as well.

1. Forget Soft Drinks (~27.5g sugar per cup)

Soft drinks and flavoured sodas. There are hundreds of soft drink varieties around the world and they all have one thing in common. At full strength of say regular cola or lemonade, they contain around 27.5g of sugar per cup. That’s almost 7 teaspoons in a 1 glass serving.

Now you wouldn’t put 7 teaspoons of sugar in your cup of tea, would you? Diet sodas are even worse because they contain artificial sweeteners.

Make a Fruitty Tea Soda (under 1g of sugar per cup)

I am seriously addicted to this and it’s one of my favourite low sugar drinks.

  • I make a pot of hot tea, herbal tea or fruity tisane before I go to bed at night so that it’s ready for fizzing up in the morning. You can now also get cold tea infusions.
  • You might also be interested in trying Kombucha. It’s a fermented and all natural carbonated drink that can also be diluted with water in the same way.
  • There are a number of new stevia or natvia sweetened, or unsweetened soft drink alternatives that offer the flavour without the sugar. Try Schweppes Infused Mineral Water, Nexba or Alt (they even have a stevia-sweetened Coke flavour).
  • If you really can’t break the soft drink habit, try diluting the sugary drink with water. Start at half half then go as low as 10 parts water to 1 part soft drink. You will be surprised how sweet the full-strength version will taste after a while.

To make Tea Soda: steep 2 tea bags of your favourite herbal tea (tisane) in 3 cups of boiling water. Chill. Add 1 cup of sparkling mineral or soda water. You’ll have an instant flavoured fizzy drink with close to no sugar. Not to mention the lack of colouring and other additives.

2. Swap Fruit Juice (~24g sugar per cup)

Fruit juice. Many people are surprised that juice, hailed to be healthy and containing “no added sugar” and (the added) benefit of vitamins, is often sweeter than soft drinks. While having 3 teaspoons of sugar in an apple is fine, it takes 2-3 apples to make a full glass of juice and no fibre to hold back your appetite. You do the math.

For Lemon Water (under 1g of sugar per cup)

This used to be my drink of choice as a child, and has remained a favourite every time I go through a phase of not liking plain water.

  • It’s tasty and refreshing and much gentler on the body, and the pocket than fruit juice, no matter the health claims.
  • Squeezed unsweetened fruit syrups are also good to add a touch of flavour to water (a teaspoon for every 1 cup is sufficient).

To make Lemon Water: add a teaspoon of lemon juice to a glass of water and mix well. While you are still having juice without the added benefit of fibre, lemon juice has quite a strong taste which won’t disappear when diluted 10:1 in the refreshing concoction.

3. Say No to Sports Drinks (~21g sugar per cup)

Sports drinks. I’ll start from the obvious: bright blue, yellow and red screams artificial colouring. Then there is sugar, about 16.5g per cup. Sure many of the drinks claim to have the added benefit of vitamins and minerals. But that’s what they are – synthetic versions of the vitamins and minerals created in a lab. Sorry, but no thanks.

Replenish with Coconut Water (around 11g of sugar per cup)

I’ve tried all sorts of coconut waters recently and while getting the stuff out of a young coconut yourself can be satisfying and fun, they can be hard to store in bulk.

  • There are a number of different coconut water brands on the market. Give the unflavoured variety a try or buy whole young coconuts. That way you’ll also be able to use the soft flesh for smoothies.
  • Although it’s a relative newcomer to the drinks market, it is an all-natural, single-source drink that is not only relatively low in sugar.
  • Unlike so many sports drinks and vitamin waters, that can be as much as 40 per cent sugar, coconut water has around 11g. It is also a great source of natural potassium which helps our body reach optimum hydration and recover after exercise.

To make Coconut Water: open (young coconut or container) and sip.

4. Quit Flavoured Milk and Milkshakes (~25g of sugar per cup)

Flavoured Milk and Milkshakes. I hope you’re starting to see a pattern. This one frustrates me a lot because it is mainly aimed at children. And ask they do. Again, if you look at any nutritional label of commercially-made flavoured milk, I bet you that one of the first ingredients you’ll see on that list will be sugar, about 25g (or 6 teaspoons) per cup.

  • There is also most likely to be artificial flavours – who has seen a banana as yellow as its skin?
  • The same goes for milkshakes as most of them are made with a sugar-based, flavoured syrup. It has as much to do with the real fruit whose flavours it’s trying to imitate as I had to do with the fall of the Berlin wall.
  • And Diet Shakes are even worse! UltraSlim vanilla has 32.4g of sugar per cup – that’s over 8 teaspoons of sugar per 250ml! Milk is naturally sweet from lactose – a sugar that’s ok to have because it behaves differently to table sugar. Naturally, I find there is no need for added sweeteners.

Try Milk with the Basics ( around 12g of sugar per cup)

So far I have been successful in suggesting my healthier alternatives, and I often enjoy a little glass of cacao milk myself as an afternoon treat. If you prefer vanilla flavoured milk, use organic vanilla essence, a teaspoon or so per cup. It really isn’t that hard to cut out the nasties here, you just need to learn to say no to the convenience-alternatives.

To make Chocolate Milk: try adding a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder or cacao nibs blended in a little hot milk. For a milkshake add 1/2 an avocado or a couple of cubes of frozen coconut cream and blend.

To make Vanilla Milk: use a teaspoon of organic vanilla essence instead of vanilla syrup. For a milkshake add 1/2 an avocado or a couple of cubes of frozen coconut cream and blend.

To make Fruitty Milkshakes: and add half of fresh or frozen banana or 4-5 strawberries per cup before blending to make healthier versions of the classic milkshake flavours, with the natural benefit of fibre.

5. Banish Bottled and Powdered Iced Teas (~21g sugar per cup)

Bottled and Powdered Iced Teas. Don’t be fooled by pre-bottled mixes, advertising their antioxidant properties and so forth. Why? Because we live in times where floor polish is made from natural lemons, while lemonade is made from lemon-like flavourings concocted in a lab.

Lipton Iced Tea with Lemon ingredients’ list reads as follows: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Instant Tea, Sodium Polyphosphates, Natural Flavor, Phosphoric Acid, SodiumBenzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preserve Freshness), Caramel Color, Calcium Disodium EDTA (To Protect Flavor) and Red 40. It also contains almost 17g of sugar per 250ml. Enough said.

Mix Tea + Ice ( under 1g of sugar per cup)

I have to say that in summer I like to enjoy a big glass of lemon iced tea like this.

  • It’s much cheaper to make it yourself, and extremely easy too.
  • You can even make a larger batch and just keep in the fridge in a jug or a bottle.

To make Iced Tea: just pick your favourite flavour tea bag, prepare in a large (4 cup) jug and cool. Add ice and voila. You could add fresh mint, lemon or orange slices to the mix as well if you like. A little honey (about 1 teaspoon to a cup) should also be ok if you’re craving a sweeter treat. No need for anything else…

6. Skip Bottled and Powdered Iced Coffee (~22.5g of sugar per cup)

Bottled and Powdered Iced Coffees. Again, both powdered and bottled coffees contain very little coffee and plenty of “padding” and sugary fillers. One brand’s “Just Natural” iced coffee has 22.5g of sugar per cup. Some of it is lactose which is fine, but the rest is added sugar!

Mix Coffee + Ice + Milk ( around 7g of sugar per cup)

A simple iced latte is actually how I prefer to have my morning coffee in summer. You could add a teaspoon of natural vanilla extract for extra sweetness or instead of the flavoured syrup commonly added to coffees.

To make Iced Coffee: the iced coffee concept is fairly simple. Coffee with half a cup of ice cold milk, and ice if available.

For more low sugar living inspiration check out:

My debut cookbook, The Wholesome Cook, featuring 180 refined sugar-free recipes all with gluten-free options. Plus detailed additive-free shopping guides, wholefood kitchen tips and my take on sugar, fat, gluten and legumes, soy and dairy.

In the beginning, there was water—abundant, refreshing, providing everything the body needs to replenish the fluids it loses. Humans relied on it as their only beverage for millions of years. Milk was introduced with the advent of agriculture and the domestication of animals. Then came beer and wine and coffee and tea, all consumed for taste and pleasure as much as for the fluids they provide. The newcomers—sugary beverages including soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks—offer hydration but with a hefty dose of unnecessary calories that the body may have a hard time regulating. Alternatively, “diet” drinks offer sweetness without the calories, but does that make them a healthy choice?

With so many options, it’s easy to be confused about which beverages are best for our health. Follow the links below for an in-depth look at each, but if you’re short on time, here’s the takeaway:

  • Water is the best choice for quenching your thirst. Coffee and tea, without added sweeteners, are healthy choices, too.
  • Some beverages should be limited or consumed in moderation, including fruit juice, milk, and those made with low-calorie sweeteners, like diet drinks. Alcohol in moderation can be healthy for some people, but not everyone.
  • It’s generally best to avoid sugary drinks like soda, sports beverages, and energy drinks.

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The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.

A hot afternoon calls for a refreshing soda. But what if you’re putting your health at risk with each sip?

Here’s your guide to healthy alternatives that will help you nip your soda cravings in the bud.

Why should you resist your soda cravings?
While sodas do have calories, they have little to no nutritional value. That essentially means they are “empty” calories, providing no sustenance for your body.

There’s plenty of research to back up why soda isn’t the most ideal beverage for your health. One study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found significant links between soda consumption and increased risks of obesity, diabetes and heart conditions. The results were consistent worldwide, including low- and middle-income countries.

Some research even links soda consumption to deteriorating brain health. The results from a recent study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia suggested that those who drink sugary beverages often experience memory issues or have significantly smaller brain volumes and hippocampuses, which are markers of preclinical cognitive decline.

In the words of Sudha Seshadri, a professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine: “These studies are not the be-all and end-all, but it’s strong data and a very strong suggestion.” She added, “It looks like there is not very much of an upside to having sugary drinks.”

According to Healthline, these sugary beverages may be the most fattening component of modern human diets. Other negative health outcomes from consuming sodas include:

  • Increased belly fat.
  • Elevated blood sugar levels, which increase the risk of diabetes.
  • Enhanced insulin resistance that leads to metabolic syndrome.
  • Increased chance of sugar addiction.
  • Escalated health disease risk.
  • Decreased dental health.
  • Reduced bone health.

In other words, your favorite sodas don’t really have a lot going for them when it comes to health. While the occasional soda won’t cause too much harm, it’s a good idea to avoid overloading on these sugary beverages.

What about diet soda?
Unfortunately, the answer to cutting down on soda intake isn’t to convert your taste buds to their diet counterparts. Research shows that these so-called healthier versions of the originals can also be harmful. That’s because they’re made with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, which can be dangerous for your body.

Research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that diet soda intake can escalate obesity in adults over 65. In fact, the increase in waist circumference in diet soda drinkers was three times that of those who didn’t consume the beverage.

A recent report from the Department of Psychological Sciences and Ingestive Behavior Research Center at Purdue University analyzed various studies that approached the health effects of consuming diet soda and discussed what the results mean. According to the researchers, artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking it’s eating the real thing. When you consume enough of the fake alternatives, your body hesitates to process real sugar because it’s been fooled by artificial sweeteners so many times.

While more in-depth research is necessary to denounce diet sodas entirely, many health experts recommend avoiding frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners to be on the safe side. For instance, Orly Avitzur, M.D., medical director at Consumer Reports, offered this advice:

“In general, your best bet is to avoid regular and diet sodas altogether. They offer little nutritional benefit, and in some cases, diet sodas can cause headaches or make you overheat.”

The good news is that there are plenty of other refreshing drinks to quell your thirst – and your soda cravings. Try one of these alternatives:

1. Sparkling water

If you love the fizzy carbonation of sodas, you don’t have to give it up entirely. Sparkling water is simply a carbonated version of classic H2O, so it doesn’t have any sugar or calories. However, you may want to choose a flavored option or add some fresh fruit to your glass, as plain sparkling water can taste like flavorless soda on its own. Berries, watermelon, lemon, lime and grapefruit pair well with this carbonated water, and you can even add some herbs to the mix, such as rosemary, basil and mint, for even more natural sweetness. Just remember to let the fruit and herbs sit in the water for a while, giving the flavors a chance to infuse.

Alternatively, you can mix sparkling water and juice for a drink that tastes eerily similar to soda. Be mindful of choosing juices without added sugar, as you may accidentally end up with a super sweet drink that is just as bad for you as soda. Regardless, try not to go overboard with the juice. Especially with tart juices, a little goes a long way for flavor. Everyday Health recommended mixing one part juice with three parts carbonated water for a light and bubbly drink.

You can also try tonic, club, seltzer and soda waters for drinks that mimic the carbonation of soda. Use the same flavoring techniques to add an extra boost to these fizzy waters. Check out Food Network’s flavored water combinations for inspiration, including strawberry cucumber, orange fennel and raspberry orange.

2. Iced tea

Add a couple teaspoons of organic sugar to cold brews and you have yourself a sweet drink with far fewer calories than sodas. Plus, you can replace the sugar with honey for an even healthier sweetener. Tea also has caffeine in it, giving you the same boost of energy as many of your favorite fizzy sodas. You can add some ice to whichever teas you like most, including black, green and herbal. It even backs a healthy punch, with antioxidants that can promote heart health and help fight certain diseases, according to Health.com.

If you’re new to the iced tea scene, try this classic recipe from Food Network to get started. When you’re ready to experiment with more flavor, try a fruit-infused iced tea recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef, which serves up fresh combinations like lemon basil, blackberry mint, peach ginger and coconut lime.

3. Kombucha

This fermented tea has been consumed for years, but it’s recently hit the shelves as a trendy alternative to sodas and other drinks. It has the powerful health benefits to back up its cool factor, as it’s rich in probiotics and antioxidants. While probiotics aid in digestions and promote gut health, antioxidants work to kill harmful bacteria and fight disease.

The fermentation process also gives kombucha the same fizziness present in your favorite sodas. It does have a unique flavor, so it’s worthy trying a few different brands and flavors until you find the one you enjoy sipping on most. You can also make kombucha at home, by carefully brewing the tea and letting it ferment for seven to 10 days. Follow this kombucha tea guide from The Kitchn to get started.

4. Homemade juices and smoothies

Store-bought anything can be loaded with unnecessary sugars and extra calories, which is why it’s worth trying your hand at making your own juices and smoothies so you can control the ingredients. You can use fresh fruits for natural flavors to replace the artificial sweeteners in soda. Another healthy bonus: These drinks help you achieve a healthy daily intake of fruits and vegetables – especially if they don’t always make an appearance in your everyday meals. By increasing your consumption, you may even notice that your immune system is stronger, your skin is brighter and your spirits are higher.

As long as you have a juicer at home, you can essentially turn any fruit or vegetable into a refreshing drink. Here are some easy juicing recipes from Wholefully to get you started, made with readily available ingredients like cucumbers, apples, celery, beets, berries, ginger, bananas and kale.

As far as smoothies go, you can get creative with combinations that fit your mood, seasonal changes and the current selection of ingredients in your kitchen. Get inspired by these healthy smoothie combinations packed with proteins and nutrients from Prevention, with blends like banana ginger, tropical papaya, apricot mango and berry vanilla.

5. Fresh fizzy drinks

Ditch the cans and high-fructose corn syrup and make your own sodas at home instead. There are plenty of ways to make homemade soda with fresh, natural ingredients that satisfy your cravings while also providing the healthy boost that traditional and store-bought sodas lack. Plus, you can experiment with flavor combinations that aren’t available in the can.

If you’re a fan of citrus-flavored soda, you’ll love this one: You can make a healthier version with sparkling or seltzer water. Simply throw some slices of lemon or lime in a glass of your preferred carbonated water, then add a dash of a calorie-free, low-carb sweetener. Perfect for summer, this peach lavender soda recipe from Eatwell101 calls for natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey and fruit. Believe it or not, celery and mint make for a refreshing soda, as proven by this recipe from The Bojon Gourmet.

You can also make refreshing spritzers, such as this pomegranate and ginger recipe from Drizzle & Drip. Combinations like this one not only curb your soda habit, but also pack a favorable health punch. Pomegranates are high in healthy antioxidants, while ginger aids in digestion and gut health.

When the clock strikes 5 o’clock on Friday, you can even add a splash of alcohol to these flavored fizzy drinks for a healthier libation. Cheers to breaking your soda habit in exchange for some tasty alternatives!

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