Which Sweeteners Are The Best Choice For A Healthy Drink?

Which Sweeteners Are The Best Choice For A Healthy Drink?

photo: Kate Milford Photography

Which Sweeteners Are The Best Choice For A Healthy Drink?

If you are looking for a flavorful alternative to regular water, you will find a slew of options in your grocery store. From drinks enhanced with vitamins to beverages that contain various flavorings, the options appear to be endless.

But if you are focusing on your overall health, one of the most important factors that you should look out for is whether the drink you are choosing has added sugars or artificial sweeteners. While many choices taste sweet, the ingredients added to that drink vary immensely in order to get that flavor – and some are better for you than others. 

Added Sugars As A Sweetener

If you are trying to limit added sugars in your diet, you may be surprised to see how much of the sweet stuff is added to some otherwise healthy-sounding drinks. And since added sugars can also be listed on the ingredient label as agave, brown rice syrup, and other surprising names, added sugars can sneak into your diet without you even realizing it. 

But you may want to think twice when you are grabbing that drink made with organic cane sugar or honey. Including too many sugary beverages in your diet is linked to increased risk of:

-weight gain

-heart disease

-type 2 diabetes

-dental cavities

Added sugars in beverages may add a sweet flavor, but drinking too much of it can wreak havoc on your health. 

Artificial Sweeteners As A Sweetener

artificial sweetener on spoon next to strawberries

Non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and aspartame add a sweet flavor with no calories. On the surface, using artificial sweeteners sound like a healthy solution to sugar cravings. But once you dig into the research, you will find that they come with some potential dangers of their own.

Data is now suggesting that over-consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners is linked to outcomes like:

-Increased weight

-elevated cardiometabolic risk

-increased risk of stroke

In fact, results from one study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology emphasizes a potential link between consuming artificial sweeteners and risk to heart health after evaluating more than 100,000 participants. 

Those who drank high amounts of both sugary drinks or artificially sweetened beverages demonstrated an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, or heart blockage.

And those who drank 40 to 46.7 milliliters (mL) of artificial sweetened drinks per day (less than what is equivalent to ¼ of a can of soda) were found to have a greater risk of cardiovascular health problems than non-consumers.  

Bottom line? Drinking artificial sweeteners may not be the ticket to optimal health.

The Natural Choice: Drinks With No Added Sugars or Artificial Sweeteners

When choosing a drink to enhance your healthy lifestyle, many people lean on beverages that are  either naturally sugar-free or have no added sugars, yet are relatively low in overall sugars. Opting for something like Drink Simple Maple Water is naturally slightly-sweet with no sugar or artificial sweeteners added to it. And at 8 grams of sugar per serving (from naturally occurring sugar in the maple sap), it contains half of the sugar as coconut water! Along with the satisfying natural taste, Drink Simple Maple Water contains natural antioxidants, electrolytes, and nutrients to help maintain your hydration status. 

Choosing your drink while also supporting your health goals can be tricky. But with a little know-how, you can navigate the water aisle with confidence and be able to pick a choice that is best suited for your needs. Cheers!

Written by Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC

Lauren is a nutritionist and executive committee member of the Women's Health DPG of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a recipient of Emerging Leader in Women's Health Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the author of Fueling Male Fertility. You can find her on Instagram at @laurenlovesnutrition or on her website, Nutrition Now Counseling.

Edited by Nancy Chen

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