We won’t sugarcoat it: sugary drinks like energy drinks, pop and fruit drinks have been linked to heart disease and other chronic illnesses. But with a few substitutions, Rhode Island families can dump the sugar and improve their health.
Sugary drinks are Americans’ primary source of added sugar. The next-largest sources of added sugars in Americans’ diets are cookies, cakes and pastries, candies, and ice cream. But sugars also show up in everything from barbecue sauce to hamburger buns. Avoiding added sugar in food isn’t easy but reconsidering our beverages can be. The Southern New England American Heart Association has teamed up with Delta Dental to encourage Rhode Islanders on the benefits of reducing sugar intake to improve both your oral and heart health, simply by Rethinking Your Drink.
The bitter truth about sugary drinks
Research has linked the consumption of sugary drinks to these health issues:
Not only do sugary drinks impact your oral health, but poor oral health can affect your heart health as well. Kicking the sugary drink habit will help you and your family maintain a healthy weight and decrease your odds of developing chronic illness. Your dental health is part of a bigger picture: whole-body wellness. Unhealthy teeth and gums are often found in combination with heart disease and linked to other life-threatening conditions.
Surprising facts about sugary drinks
Did you know…
- A 20-oz. bottle of soda contains about 16 packets of sugar
- The average American consumes 34 pounds of sugar a year from sugary drinks alone
- Coffee drinks can contain 15 packets of sugary or more
- The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend sports drinks for children unless they are exercising vigorously for more than an hour, or exercising in extreme heat
- The typical American child consumes almost triple the amount of our recommendation for added sugar intake, half of which comes from sugary drinks.
Americans consume more than 300 calories per day from added sugars. AHA guidelines recommend that men have no more than about 150 calories a day from added sugars. (That’s 36 grams, or 9 teaspoons.) Women, and children ages 2 to 18, should have no more than 100 calories of added sugars a day. (That’s 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons.) Children younger than 2 shouldn’t have any.
Benefits of staying hydrated
Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently. Staying hydrated supports total-body health and promotes the symbiotic relationship between healthy teeth and a healthy heart.
Heart-healthy thirst quenchers
Start with unsweetened beverages, then flavor to taste with additions like fruit, low-fat or fat-free milk, and herbs and spices. Water and white low-fat milk are the healthiest replacements for sugary drinks. To keep things interesting, here are some tasty variations on plain water:
- Sparkling water
- Juice + sparkling water (100% fruit juice has a lot of natural sugar – dilute with sparkling water to make your own fruity pop substitute!)
- Water infused with fruit
Take a minute and think about what you drink in a typical day. Unless you are a true water lover, you may be getting some extra, unneeded sugar through sweetened soft drinks, sodas, iced tea, coffee, juice, energy and sports drinks. In fact, sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugars in our diet. Take a moment to Rethink Your Drink, we know your dentist AND heart will thank you!
More tips to quench your thirst with less sugar
Make it at home – Family favorites like hot chocolate, lemonade, smoothies, fruit punch, chocolate milk and coffee drinks easily can be made at home with less added sugars.
- Read the label, and choose wisely.
- Get a refillable water bottle to carry with you so you will always have a drink on hand.
Some drinks that appear to be healthy may be high in calories and added sugars. Check servings per container and ingredients list. Added sugars go by many names, including sucrose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, concentrated fruit juice, agave nectar and honey.
Thank you @DeltaDentalRI for being our local #RethinkYourDrinkRI sponsor. Check out our video series on encouraging healthy habits.
As the Director of Communications for American Heart Association Southern New England, Samantha works with local partners in the community to be a relentless force for longer, healthier lives for everyone. For more information on the article you just read, or to get involved visit SNE Webpage, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 401.228.2324.