As I packed the last bag of groceries in my car, I glanced over at the long line of cars at the Starbuck’s drive-thru. “Just another normal day over there,” I said to myself. The drive-thru line is a constant, never ending line of cars, all day, every day until the evening hours begin.
What could possibly be so good over there? Is it the coffee beans or the espresso? Maybe the tea? Don’t get me wrong, I have waited on that long line of cars for over 25 minutes myself for a cup of coffee, but I think the addiction may be something more than just a measly “cup of joe.” The high amount of sugar contained in their drinks just may be the culprit.
Are Americans “drinking” more sugar than they should be? In my opinion, the answer is a solid, “yes.”
SOURCE: Health.gov Dietary Guidelines 2015 – 2020
Dietary Guidelines reported that in the United States, 47% of added sugars come from beverage consumption. It’s no wonder that approximately 70% of the U.S. consumes more sugar than the recommended limit! Think about it, a majority of us have our coffees with sugar, our teas with honey, and instead of choosing water, we choose low-calorie sports drinks or diet sodas.
Americans need to realize that a high intake of sugars, most importantly, sugar-sweetened beverages, is associated with heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure in adults. Sweetened drinks, including “diet and sugar-free” can also affect weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and even tooth decay.
So, if you are one of those people that consume a few diet drinks every day, you may want to think about reducing your intake to keep your heart healthy.
Instead of consuming and adding sugars and sweeteners to your beverages, here are some healthier options to try:
Infuse a tall, cold, pitcher of water with fruit. I do this at home and it tastes so refreshing! The longer the fruit stays in the better it tastes. Try water infused with blackberries and raspberries, or slices of limes, oranges, lemons, or grapefruits. If fruit is not your thing, try infusing your water with ginger, or use herbs like mint and basil.
Get used to drinking unsweetened tea, cold or hot. After a few cups, I will guarantee you won’t miss the added sugar!
Mix an ounce of cranberry, apple, cherry or even pomegranate juice to a glass of sparkling water. Be sure to ONLY USE 100% fruit juices.
For a great tasting dairy alternate, try unsweetened almond or rice milk. They are both delicious, refreshing, and filling. Go one step further and heat a mug of almond or rice milk and add one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Yummy!
Replace your whole milk with non-fat or low-fat milk to reduce your sugar intake.
Don’t give up your coffee houses, instead, ask questions and educate yourself on how much sugar is included in the drinks of choice. Choose healthier options. In the long run, you will feel better that you did.
Be sure to give yourself a chance to adjust to your new beverages of choice. Keep in mind the reasons behind your switch and enjoy those refreshing new flavors while toasting to your healthy heart!