Health drinks come in all shapes and sizes but, of course, not all are created equal. From the perennial favorite smoothie to the newcomer kombucha, there are an abundance of beverages on the market today being touted as the next great health trend. Don’t be fooled though. It can be difficult to determine which drinks are actually good for you and which are simply masquerading as health drinks but are secretly, or not-so-secretly, packed with sugar.
If you have access to a health risk assessment, you should be sure to enter the amount of fluids you are consuming a day, and whether you regularly drink more than 6 oz. of drinks which contain sugar per day. This data will help you gain a wealth of information about your health.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the popular health drinks to determine exactly how good they actually are.
The health benefits of teas are widely known but that doesn’t mean that all forms of tea are good for you. Some tea drinks are better for you than others.
Kombucha – Give It A Try
Kombucha is one of the latest health drinks to hit the market. Although kombucha may be an acquired taste for some, the health benefits of the drink can’t be denied. The fizzy, fermented tea hosts natural probiotics, which benefit your digestive system. In addition to overall health care, kombucha has also been known to help cure hangovers.
Green Tea – Give It A Try
As long as you don’t mix in milk and sugar, green tea is a great low-calorie drink with lots of additional health benefits. A cup of green tea contains antioxidants, which are known for their ability to prevent disease and cancer. Antioxidants protect cells by trapping harmful free radicals before they can cause damage. Green tea also has been found to help digestion and prevent heart disease.
Bottled Iced Tea – Skip It
While iced tea is typically a low-calorie choice, it’s best to make your own at home so that you can control what is added to it. Store bought iced teas are notorious for being overloaded with sugar and artificial flavors. If you insist on purchasing your iced tea pre-made at the store, be sure to check out the ingredients and look for one that contains just tea and water.
Drinks with a high amount of electrolytes are especially popular after working out but be wary of drinks with too many additives.
Coconut Water – Give It a Try
Feeling dehydrated? Coconut water, filled with electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals, is the perfect drink to help you feel better. Plus, coconut water doesn’t contain a lot of sugar.
Sports Drinks – Skip It
Although sports drink companies want you to believe that they’re good for you by promising to rehydrate your body with electrolytes, these popular beverages are also full of sugar and artificial food coloring. These negative side effects far outweigh the benefits and you’re better off replenishing with electrolytes from natural sources.
While some fizzy drinks may be marketed as health drinks, don’t be fooled by the fancy labels. They still can wreak havoc on your body.
Diet Soda – Skip It
Just because it has the word diet in the name does not mean that diet soda is good for you. In fact, the artificial sweeteners that replace sugar aren’t any better for you than the real sweet stuff. While diet soda is a calorie-free drink, it contains so many artificial flavors and chemicals that have been known to create a myriad of health issues.
Sparkling Water – Skip It
People often turn to sparkling water for a so-called healthy alternative to soda. While sparkling water contains less calories, it still uses carbonic acid to get the fizzy taste, and your dentist will frown upon that. Carbonic acid increases the risk of tooth enamel erosion, leaving you vulnerable to cavities.
It’s not uncommon to feel like you need a pick-me-up every once in a while, but be sure to choose your caffeinated drinks carefully.
Energy Drinks – Skip It
The only health benefit that energy drinks can claim, is a temporary boost to focus and productivity. The drinks are so high in caffeine and artificial sugar that the side effects of the crash, like headaches and anxiety, make it not worth the short-lived energy boost.
Coffee – It’s A Toss Up
There’s nothing wrong a cup of black coffee. It’s the added sugar, milk and flavors in most coffee drinks, like lattes, mochas and frappuccinos, that give it a bad name. Stick to pure black coffee to get a natural caffeine boost without the extra calories.
While fruit is typically a healthy choice, you have to be careful with fruity beverages, which are often not purely fruit.
Fruit Juices – It’s A Toss Up
Fresh squeezed orange juice and other pure fruit juices can be good for you in small amounts. Unfortunately, most juices contain far more than just fruit juice. If you’re going to buy fruit juice, be sure to look for ones that are 100% fruit juice with no added sugar to get the vitamins without the sugar rush.
Smoothies – It’s A Toss Up
While it’s often considered a health drink due to the high content of fruits and veggies, smoothies, especially store bought, often contain a sneaky amount of sugar. Not only do mix-ins, like frozen yogurt, increase the sugar content but fruit also has a high level of natural sugars. Of course, smoothies come in all forms and flavors and some smoothies can be healthier than others. Luckily, you can tailor your drink to fit your personal health goals by adding any vitamin-rich food that you want and blending it into a delicious concoction. To limit the sugar rush, try mixing in vegetables with your fruit to up the health benefit while reducing the sugar content.