Here's some bitter news: Americans guzzle down nearly 150 calories a day from sugar-sweetened beverages alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Too much added sugar (defined as more than 25 grams a day for women and 36 grams for men, per the American Heart Association is linked to heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. Neither your sugary morning latte nor that can of soda alongside lunch is worth those consequences.
Now, for the sweet news: There are plenty of palate-pleasing drinks that can benefit your body and quench your thirst, while some even offer respite from the sweltering summer heat.
So, skip the added sugar and raise a glass of one of the following dietitian-approved drinks for every occasion.
Cold Drinks to Escape the Heat
Chilling out with a cold drink in hand doesn't have to tack teaspoons of sugar onto your day.
"The biggest mistake I see my clients make is ordering what appears to be a simple, healthy and 'clean' beverage at their favorite coffee shop or restaurant and not realizing the amount of added sugar in their drink," explains Mary Stewart, RD, LD and the owner of Cultivate Nutrition in Dallas.
Instead of opting for a sugary iced frappe or syrupy smoothie, check the nutrition facts label and ingredient list (or the restaurant menu's nutrition info, if you're ordering out) to ensure your next cup isn't packed with unnecessary sugars or additives.
Get dietitians' go-to cold drinks and the brands and recipes they recommend.
Flavored Waters for the Win
Plain H2O can be a bore, but that's where flavored waters come in: They make hydrating a little more exciting while still offering the benefits your body needs.
Many brands are sweetened with plant-based natural flavors instead of added sugar. From watermelon to cucumber, you'll find both still and sparkling flavored water varieties that make for the perfect soda or cocktail mixer swap.
Add these fizzy and flat flavored waters to your cart for a refreshing sip you can feel good about.
Coffee's Got Perks
Java might be the one thing that works better than your alarm clock, but it delivers more than just an energy jolt.
Drinking coffee is associated with improved cognition, reduced risk of chronic diseases and even a longer life.
But, adding sugar to your mug or brewing it the wrong way might negate some of those perks — not to mention that downing more than four cups a day can cause unwanted side effects (such as irritability and insomnia).
Read on for more health benefits of coffee and the best way to brew a cup.
A Tea for Every Goal
From green to chamomile to peppermint, tea is a smart daily sip, whether you prefer it piping hot or served over ice.
"Teas contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that might help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases," May Zhu, RDN, LDN, founder of Nutrition Happens, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
"Drinking tea is another way to help your body stay hydrated," she says. "As long as you're steeping your own tea and being mindful of any added sugars, tea can definitely be a part of any healthy eating pattern."
Find the best tea for you — whether you're looking to get better sleep or ease an upset stomach.
Booze With Benefits
While wine is tied to a healthier heart and beer is linked to good gut health, drinking too much can come with some serious risks (such as organ damage).
FYI: "Heavy drinking for men is equal to 15 or more drinks a week, and for women, it's eight or more drinks per week," says Alana Kessler, RD, functional and holistic nutrition and wellness expert.
If you like to kick back with a glass of wine or a cold beer every now and then, there are healthier and safer ways to drink — and the first step is to curb your intake, even just a little.
Discover the advantages and disadvantages of alcohol and how to make nightcaps a bit healthier.