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drinkingWith so many beverages available in supermarkets and corner stores, it’s difficult to know what is good for us (and our kids!) and what isn’t.  Have you ever wondered if some of these beverages are as healthy as they actually claim to be? Labels on these items can make them seem like good choices, but they often contain large amounts of sugar, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavorings.

Juice Drinks & Sports Drinks

Ads for sports drinks can make it seem like you need these to stay hydrated, but most people don’t need them at all. Sports drinks and “juice drinks” are often just full of sugar and other artificial ingredients.  Water should be the primary source of hydration!  Those who may benefit from a sports drink are athletes who have participated in lengthy, vigorous activity and require a quick replenishment of carbohydrates and electrolytes!

Tips:  Skip these beverages and instead, limit kids to 4-6 oz. of 100% juice per day. Plain water is the better choice!

Flavored Water & Sugar-Free Drinks

The words “lite,” “flavored,” “diet,” and “sugar-free” on the label of a flavored beverage often means it contains artificial sweeteners and other ingredients you don’t need.  Artificial sweeteners can cause cravings for even sweeter, higher-calorie foods.

Tips: Skip these drinks and flavor your water with oranges, lemons, limes, berries, cucumber slices, and/or crushed mint.

Energy Drinks, Flavored Coffees, & Sodas

Energy drinks and flavored coffees claim to give you energy during the day. That is because they are loaded with caffeine, extra calories, sugar, and other unnecessary ingredients.  While they may give you a short burst of energy, they will often end up making you feel more tired.

Tips:  Make your own protein-packed smoothies with yogurt and fresh, frozen, or canned fruit in 100% juice or water.  Try adding peanut butter or vegetables like spinach to give you more energy throughout the day.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you find yourself trying to choose a healthy beverage.  Remember that water is always the best choice and can taste even more refreshing with a few flavorful additions!

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Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program

Nutrition Education Specialist for the Massachusetts WIC Program

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