Added sugars are present in many of the foods and drinks that we have daily, but they especially high in our beverages. The term refers to the additional sugar placed in food items to add sweetness or to preserve it. It spikes daily sugar intake and alters the way that naturally sweet foods taste. When people consume more and more foods with added sugar, they start to get used to a higher level of sweetness. This alters their taste buds and creates cravings for sugary foods and drinks.
According to the American Heart Association, adult women should only consume 6 teaspoons of sugar per day and men should only have 9 teaspoons per day. Children should limit their sugar intake to 3-6 teaspoons. The average American consumed roughly 17 teaspoons of sugar on a daily basis. This becomes about 57 pounds of sugar by the end of the year! More than half of these come from drinks alone and can become very harmful as consumption continues.
Consequences of Consuming Too Much Sugar
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
It can get rather overwhelming to try and find healthy drink substitutes, so here are a few options!
|If you like these||Try these|
|Soda 12 ounce Coke can (39 grams of sugar)||Sparkling/seltzer water with 100% fruit juice|
– 12 ounces of sparkling/seltzer water and 2 ounces of 100% fruit juice (7 grams of sugar)
– 8 ounces of Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice (28 grams of sugar)
|Infused water with fruit|
– 8 ounces (0 grams of sugar)
– An 8 ounce, vanilla milkshake from McDonald’s (61 grams of sugar )
|Frozen Fruit smoothies |
– 8 ounces (16 grams of sugar)
– 8 ounces of prepared Nesquik chocolate flavored milk (28 grams of sugar)
|Unsweetened milk alternatives |
– 8 ounces of Elmhurst hazelnut milk with ½ teaspoon of cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of honey (11 grams of sugar)
– 1 tall can (23 ounces) of Arizona Green Tea with Honey and Ginseng (49 grams of sugar )
|Freshly steeped tea (oolong, black, green, white, hibiscus) |
– 8 ounces of tea and a drop of Stevia (0 grams of sugar)
Sugar Servings Sizes
- 1 teaspoon of sugar contains 4.2 grams of sugar
- 1 packet of sugar contains 4 grams of carbohydrates (in a regular sugar packet)
Sugar Tips and Healthier Options
- Avoid phosphoric acid in caramel-colored beverages, it has lots of added sugars and can steal the calcium from your bones.
- Read nutrition labels to see just how much sugar is in your drink. The higher the sugar is on the label, the higher the sugar quantity.
- Sugar has many names such as corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose.
- Artificial sweeteners may seem more appealing for their lower calories, however, it may not help with weight management in the long run.
- Gradually reduce the amount of sugar that you use when sweetening beverages like tea or coffee.
- Carry a refillable water bottle to make it easier to choose water over a sweetened drink.
- Choose a smaller size if you want to treat yourself to a soda or juice.
- Add 100% fruit juice to your drinks to add more fruit flavor.
- Use an alternative sweetener. You can use less of these to achieve the same amount of sweetness.
- Genuine maple syrup
- Stevia (0 g of carbohydrates per packet, 1 packet has the same sweetening capacity of 2 teaspoons of sugar)
- Monk Fruit sweetener
- Just Panela Unprocessed Cane Sugar – 4 grams of carbs per packet
- Substitute sugary snacks for fresh fruit, which has lots of natural sugars.
Water Infusion Recipes
|Strawberry and Lime||1 gallon of water|
3 medium limes, sliced
1 ½ cups of small strawberries
3 cups of ice (optional)
|Pineapple, Coconut, and Lime||3 cups of pineapple chunks|
3 cups of coconut chunks
3 limes, sliced
|Watermelon Cucumber Mint||1 gallon of water|
6 cups of watermelon
16 mint leaves
1 cucumber, sliced
|Raspberry Lemon Mint||1 gallon of water|
2 cups of raspberries
1 lemon, sliced
A handful of mint leaves
Frozen Fruit Smoothie Recipe
This recipe can easily be changed to include any frozen fruit that you have. Just add all the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of frozen fruit
- 1 cup (8 oz) of low-fat yogurt
- A handful of berries for topping (optional)
Tavinun Vickyanont, Penn State Intern