There's nothing more refreshing than sipping an ice-cold lemonade on a sweltering summer day. But while that lemonade may feel good going down, it's not the best choice for your body.
Many popular cool-down drinks — think: juice, soda and fancy coffee beverages — are jam-packed with sugar.
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Keep in mind that women should take in no more than 25 grams of added sugars per day while men should limit themselves to 36 grams, according to the American Heart Association. To put that into perspective, a glass of lemonade can rack up more than 15 grams of sugar.
Instead of reaching for the sweet stuff, how about opting for a healthier drink that doesn't sacrifice flavor?
We compiled five perfect cold drink recipes to get you through even the hottest summer day — all with less than 9 grams of sugar per serving.
1. Cold-Brew Coffee
- Calories: 0
- Sugar: 0 grams
Enjoying an iced coffee on a hot day is one of the nicer things in life — and this homemade cold-brew is rich, sugar-free and will probably even save you a few bucks at the coffee shop.
Another bonus: A study of nearly a half-million participants reported inverse associations for coffee drinking with mortality, including deaths from cardiovascular disease and some cancers — providing further reassurance that coffee drinking can be a part of a healthy diet, according to an August 2018 study in JAMA Internal Medicine.
As if you needed another reason to sip!
Get the Cold-Brew Coffee recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Smoothie
- Calories: 174
- Sugar: 3 grams
Want a refreshing, cold drink that will keep you satiated until lunchtime rolls around?
This nutrient-packed blend contains avocados — which are not only delicious but also good for your heart, according to the American Heart Association.
Avocados contain monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. And thanks to the almond butter, this smoothie packs in an extra-creamy punch.
Get the Creamy Avocado-Cucumber Smoothie recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Chocolatey Icy Frappé
- Calories: 173
- Sugar: 6 grams
Let's talk about the ridiculous amount of sugar in blended coffee drinks: A Tall (12-ounce) Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino has 35 grams of sugar. So just one of those would amount to more than your daily allowance of the sweet stuff.
Meanwhile, this tasty homemade alternative has just 6 grams of sugar. Made with dark chocolate, this cocoa-spiked frappé packs plant chemicals called flavanols that may help to protect the heart.
Flavanols have been shown to support the production of nitric oxide in the inner cell lining of blood vessels that helps to relax them and improve blood flow, thereby helping to lower blood pressure, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Get the Chocolatey Icy Frappé recipe and nutrition info here.
4. Sparkling Cucumber Refresher
- Calories: 14
- Sugar: 1 gram
This wonderfully light and refreshing drink has just one gram of sugar per serving, yet it manages to pack in loads of flavor.
Cucumber is high in vitamin K, according to the USDA — which is crucial for healing wounds, helping blood clot (which comes in handy when you get a cut) and keeping our bones strong, according to the National Institutes of Health.
It also doesn't hurt that cucumber is 95 percent water, and therefore incredibly hydrating on a hot day.
Get the Sparkling Cucumber Refresher recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Pomegranate Iced Tea
- Calories: 40
- Sugar: 8 grams
Unlike most pomegranate-based drinks, this tasty iced tea has just 8 grams of natural sugar per serving. And considering the health benefits of pomegranate, it's well worth it!
A half-cup of pomegranate arils contains 10 percent of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin C and 12 percent of the RDA of vitamin K, according to the USDA. And with just three ingredients, you can whip this cold drink up in a jiffy and make that pool party something special.
Get the Pomegranate Iced Tea recipe and nutrition info here.
- American Heart Association: “Added Sugars”
- JAMA Internal Medicine: “Association of Coffee Drinking With Mortality by Genetic Variation in Caffeine Metabolism”
- American Heart Association: “An Avocado a Day May Help Keep Bad Cholesterol at Bay”
- Starbucks: “Mocha Frappuccino® Blended Beverage”
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Dark Chocolate”
- USDA: “Cucumber”
- National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin K”
- USDA: “Pomegranates”