A Healthy You: Beware Dangerous Drinks

By Cindy Gates RD, LD

New research reveals that it’s not just our food that’s making us fat, buts the beverages we wash it all down with.

Hidden calories in our coffees and soft drinks make up more than 20 percent of our daily calories — more than 400 calories a day on average! If you strip away all the extra calories we are getting from beverages, you could lose 23 pounds a year simply by changing your choice of drinks.

Flavored coffees and drinks can be full of calories, fat and sugar — some as high as 500-600 calories — 20-40 grams of fat, and 12-15 teaspoons of sugar. Sodas are full of sugar. A 12 ounce can of pop has 10 teaspoons of sugar and some large size drinks from restaurants can have 26 teaspoons of sugar. Smoothies can have 300 to 1000 calories and as much as 17 teaspoons of sugar. Even some sweetened teas contain a lot of sugar and calories — 240 calories and 15 teaspoons of sugar.

Many are also drinking high caffeine energy drinks that promise increased alertness and enhanced physical performance. Drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea is not bad. In fact, they have health-boosting antioxidants. Relying on energy drinks to get you through the day, however, is not a good strategy. Caffeine in high doses has been linked to anxiety, insomnia, indigestion, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and other problems.

It is estimated that up to 50 percent of teenagers and young adults are using energy drinks. With bright packaging and catchy names, some energy drinks seem targeted towards young children. whose bodies aren’t equipped to process that much caffeine, so parents need to step in.

Energy drinks contain as much caffeine as coffee and some contain much more caffeine than coffee. Energy drinks may also be loaded with sugar and calories some as much as 12-15 teaspoons of sugar for a 16 ounce container and 200-280 calories. Plain coffee and tea contain 0 calories and 0 sugar.

For more information on specific food and drinks go to www.dietfacts.com.

Healthy You is a regular column about nutrition, healthy living and cancer care. It is written by Cindy Gates, RD and LD and the Cancer Center’s Oncology dietitian, herbalist and Certified Wellness Coach.

Post by Robin McGinty

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