If you’re like most people, you probably drink at least one sugary beverage every day. Whether it’s a can of soda with lunch or a Frappuccino in the afternoon, those sugary drinks can add up — and not just on your waistline. Too much sugar can lead to health problems, from cavities and weight gain to diabetes and heart disease. So what’s a health-conscious person to do?
Here are five healthy alternatives to sugary drinks that will still quench your thirst without all the sugar.
A great alternative to sugary sodas, sparkling water is a refreshing way to stay hydrated throughout the day. This drink helps to keep your body alkaline, which is important for overall health. Not only has it been proven that sparkling water improves satiety, but also carbonated water helps with digestion and constipation- two factors that could lead to feeling hungry. Just be sure to check the label — some sparkling water brands can contain added sugar or other sweeteners.
Tea is a great source of antioxidants, linked to numerous health benefits like reduced inflammation and a lower risk of heart disease. And there’s something for everyone — whether you like green tea, black tea, or herbal tea, there’s a type of tea out there that will suit your taste buds.
Tea, especially black, contains 40-70 grams of caffeine. If you are trying to avoid caffeine, green tea without caffeine is available. You can also find a tea that is high in antioxidants but low in caffeine, such as white tea.
Since tea can taste a bit bitter, you may want to add a natural sweetener like honey or stevia. Just be sure not to add too much, as even natural sweeteners can add up in sugar content.
Milk contains calcium and vitamin D, essential for strong bones and teeth. It’s also a good source of protein, which can help with muscle growth and repair. Just be aware that some types of milk — like whole milk and flavored milk — can be high in sugar, so opt for skim milk or unsweetened almond milk instead. If you want to try milk but are lactose intolerant, many types of lactose-free milk are available, such as soy and oat milk. It may take a lot to get used to, but it’s a healthier alternative.
Natural Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is a good source of vitamins and minerals but is also high in sugar. To limit sugar intake, choose 100% natural fruit juice instead of sweetened fruit juice or juice drinks, which can contain added sugars. And be sure to check the nutrition label—even “healthy” juices can contain more sugar than you might expect.
It is still better to eat whole fruit, as this provides fiber which helps regulate blood sugar levels. You can also make the juice yourself at home with a juicer, giving you more control over the ingredients. When drinking juice, opt for water or sparkling water to help dilute it.
Smoothies make a great alternative to sugary drinks because they’re packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And since they’re made with whole fruits and vegetables, they’re lower in sugar than most fruit juices and juice drinks. Just be sure to watch out for smoothies made with added sugars or sweeteners — choose ones made with unsweetened fruits and veggies instead.
You can make smoothies at home with a blender, like natural fruit juices. You can experiment and use different fruits and vegetables to find a flavor that you like. And, if you want a thicker smoothie, add yogurt or milk. Just be sure to use unsweetened milk or yogurt to avoid adding extra sugar. Smoothies are also great if you’re trying to lose weight. This can be a healthier alternative to sports drinks full of sugar and calories.
Don’t Forget Water
Water is the healthiest beverage you can drink. It’s essential for staying hydrated, especially when you’re exercising or sweating. And it has no calories, sugar, or other additives—making it the perfect choice if you’re trying to cut back on sugary drinks.
If you find water boring, add a lemon or lime slice. Or try sparkling water for a bit of fizz. It is recommended to take eight glasses of water each day. Water is essential for many bodily functions, such as flushing out toxins and keeping your skin healthy. Never skip a day without drinking water.
Sugary drinks are everywhere—but that doesn’t mean you have to drink them! Plenty of healthier alternatives will still quench your thirst without all the sugar. From sparkling water and tea to milk and smoothies, there’s a healthy drink for everyone. So next time you’re reaching for a soda or sugary coffee drink, consider one of these healthier options. Your body will thank you!