Soda. Pop. Coke. Different regions of the United States have their own name for this carbonated drink, but it remains a popular drink no matter what you call it. Unfortunately, soda is also one of the leading culprits behind the obesity epidemic, and we’ve known this for a long time. Beyond weight gain, soda can also lead to tooth decay, cavities, and diabetes, and may even be linked to osteoporosis!
If you’re looking for something tasty to drink, but want something that’s better for your overall self, you’ve got a couple of healthy alternatives to soda.
Probably the simplest way to cut calories from soda is to go with the diet alternative. This is strictly for those who just want to save calories, however. Generally speaking, diet soda has no nutritional value, outside the lack of calories and sugar that gives it the advantage over full-sugar sodas. That said, diet sodas have many of the same problems as regular soda. They may even do more harm than good. Part of this may be what’s been called the “Big Mac and Diet Coke” mentality. Essentially, people will justify eating more unhealthy foods because they’re “counteracting it” with a diet soda.
Diet sodas have many of the same problems as regular soda and can lead to what’s been called the “Big Mac and Diet Coke” mentality.
So, why’d we include diet soda in this list of healthy alternatives to soda? Well, if you’re a frequent soda-sipper, switching to diet soda is a good start to getting healthier. As you transition from regular soda, starting with diet soda is just the tip of the iceberg compared to the healthier options we’ll discuss below.
There’s a reason why bottled water knocked soda off its perch as America’s favorite drink. Water is free of calories, acids, and sugars, all of which can damage your teeth and lead to weight gain. On top of that, water can trick your body into thinking it’s full. Drinking a glass of water before a meal can also stop you from overeating!
Water is free of calories, acids, and sugars, all of which can damage your teeth and lead to weight gain.
Truly, the only downside of water is its lack of flavor, which is a reason why many don’t drink it quite as much as they should. It’s the boring option, even if it is one of the healthiest. So, if you’re looking for healthy, but flavorful, you may need to look beyond water. Luckily, the next entry is a bit of a compromise.
Sparkling Water and Other Carbonated Waters
Sparkling water is water that’s been carbonated, or infused with carbon dioxide gas. There are a few different types of carbonated waters — seltzer, sparkling mineral water, club soda, and tonic water, to name a few. These are all excellent alternatives to soda because they give you the fizzy mouthfeel of soda but lack the sugar of soda. You can also get seltzer and sparkling mineral waters in different flavors, further making them comparable to soda.
There are a few different types of carbonated waters — seltzer, sparkling mineral water, club soda, and tonic water — and all are excellent alternatives.
The advantages of sparkling water are numerable. Like diet soda, they’re zero-calorie and zero-sugar drinks. And unlike diet soda, sparkling waters don’t seem to lead to tooth decay, since they lack the sugar, sodium, and acids that can cause your teeth to break down. While some carbonated waters do have sodium, it’s rarely enough to cause any real damage. At the same time, sparkling water can help you feel fuller, even more so than water.
Tea, like sparkling water, takes many of the strengths of water and adds a few of its own. While it lacks the bubbles of carbonated water and soda, it’s strong in flavor. In fact, brewing black tea can ensure the strongest flavor without adding additional calories and fat, like cream or milk would. Some teas are also naturally sweetened, which means you probably don’t need to add sugar. There are also many different types of tea, offering you a range of low-calorie options.
While it lacks the bubbles of carbonated water and soda, tea is strong in flavor and loaded with health benefits.
Different teas will have different benefits, but there are a few general health benefits of tea. First of all, tea is packed with antioxidants, which offer a wealth of benefits. Tea has also been linked with lower rates of stroke and heart attack. Additionally, many teas have been shown to improve your immune system. For those looking for a more natural alternative to soda, tea is a great option.
Speaking of tea, there’s another soda alternative that’s got a strong taste and many health benefits. It’s called kombucha, and it’s fermented black or green tea. Kombucha is a mix of sugar, tea, and yeast. It’s also slightly alcoholic, though the alcohol content is so low that it’s not regulated in the United States. The fermentation process gives the tea a slight effervescence, or fizziness, similar to soda. It also produces probiotics, which give you the majority of the benefits from the drink.
The fermentation process gives kombucha a fizziness and produces healthy probiotics.
Kombucha offers many of the benefits of tea, like the antioxidants, the immunity boost, and the reduced rates of cancer. At the same time, you’re benefiting from the probiotics, which can improve your gut health and combat inflammation and certain disorders. (Probiotics are also found in sauerkraut!) Though the taste of kombucha can be a barrier for some, many love the gingery, sharp flavors and reap the health rewards as a result.
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While soda remains one of the most popular drinks in the United States, it’s simply not that healthy. Whether you’re sticking with water or going for something a bit more adventurous, there are many better ways to slake your thirst than a fizzy soft drink.