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Prisma Health Heart Hospital dietitian provides tips for forming healthier beverage habits

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

If you’re looking to improve your health or lose weight, it may be prudent to take a closer look at what you’re drinking. According to The American Heart Association, some major sources of added sugar in the American diet include regular soft drinks and fruit drinks. Prisma Health Heart Hospital dietitian Lisa Akly wanted to provide community members with some reminders about added sugar in beverages and offer five tips for forming healthier beverage habits.

What is added sugar?
Added sugars include any sugars (or sweeteners that contain calories) added to foods or beverages during preparation and processing. Added sugar includes:

  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Agave nectar
  • High fructose corn syrup

While these and other added sugars are not harmful in small amounts, they contribute to additional calories and have no nutritional value. Whether it’s the sugar you add to your morning coffee or the 7 teaspoons of added sugar in just 8 ounces of regular soft drink, it’s important to pay attention.

To help decrease empty calories and added sugars, Prisma Health Heart Hospital dietitian Lisa Akly offers five tips for forming healthier beverage habits.

  1. Read labels and ingredients.
  • Don’t let the size of the container fool you.
  • Always remember to check serving sizes and the servings per container.
  • Glance at those ingredients.
    • Names for added sugars are plentiful. Words like “syrup,” “sweetener,” or most words ending in “ose” usually indicate an added sugar ingredient.
    • Ingredients are listed in order of abundance. The higher up on the list an ingredient is located, the more the product will contain.
    • Don’t forget about other names such as molasses, honey and agave nectar.
  1. Make water the convenient choice.
  • Water helps you stay hydrated without adding calories and sugar to your diet.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle with you.
  • If you’re looking for a touch of flavor, try a citrus wedge or slice such as lemon, lime or orange.
  • For a fun twist with a home meal or dining out, try seltzer, club soda or sparkling water
  1. Go for the whole fruit.
  • An 8-ounce glass of fruit punch contains 60 calories and zero grams of dietary fiber. Meanwhile, a small orange has approximately 45 calories and a little over 2 grams of dietary fiber. Including dietary fiber in your meal plan may help you improve your cholesterol levels.
  • While 100 percent juice can be a great source of many nutrients, the calories can add up if you’re not paying attention to serving sizes.
  1. Coffee and tea – let’s not get fancy.
  • One cup of plain black coffee contains only two calories. If you must go fancy, be mindful.
  • Asking for a smaller size and lighter ingredients such as nonfat or soy milk instead of whole milk will result in lower calories and less added sugar.
  • You can save close to 150 calories and 5 teaspoons of sugar by drinking your 16-ounce glass of tea without added sugar.
  1. Make your smoothie at home.
  • A 24-ounce smoothie on the go could possibly contain up to 800 calories.
  • You can make your smoothie at home using whole fruit, low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt and use spices such as cinnamon, allspice, clove and/or nutmeg to provide the extra sweetness you crave without added sugar.

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