Liquid Candy: The Silent Nutritional Enemy

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Liquid Candy: The Silent Nutritional Enemy

Soda and other sugary drinks are the single biggest source of calories in Americans' diets. (On average, we drink about 40 gallons of sugary beverages a year.). They are the only foods or beverages that have been directly linked to obesity.

Why are sugary drinks such a problem? It's easy to overdo it. The size of the average fast-food soda has grown seven times from the days of the soda jerk in the Fifties to today's supersized drinks. Downing just one can of soda (10-12 tsp of sugar) will put you over the recommended daily limit. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar for men and 6 teaspoons for women a day.

When it comes to your weight, what you drink is as important as what you eat. If you do nothing else, cutting out sugary drinks alone may be enough to help you lose weight.Watch out for the hidden and often empty calories in the following drinks (or at least choose the smallest size possible):

  • Fruit drinks (also called juice drinks, juice beverages, fruit cocktails, or fruit-flavored drinks)
  • Energy drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Flavored waters
  • Coffee drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Smoothies
  • Sweetened iced teas
  • Soda

Your best bets are water (with no added sweeteners); plain tea or coffee or with low-fat milk added; 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice (try to limit to one glass a day); or skim or 1 percent milk. Diet beverages are OK too as long as you don't substitute them for healthier drinks or overindulge in high-calorie treats later.

Food-A-Pedia can help you compare calories, added sugars, and fats in your favorite beverages: www.choosemyplate.gov/SuperTracker/foodapedia.aspx

Information courtesy of Hennepin County Health@Work E-Tips