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Kicking the Soda Habit? 9 Healthy Replacements (Slideshow)

Kicking the Soda Habit? 9 Healthy Replacements (Slideshow)


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Step away from that can! Try these alternatives instead

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If you’re drinking soda to pep you up, coffee may be a better solution. According to the Mayo Clinic, a cup or two a day may ward off Parkinson’s and type 2 diabetes as well as help to improve cognitive function. Just try not to overdo it on the sugar or you may find your waistline no better off for the switch.

Coffee

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If you’re drinking soda to pep you up, coffee may be a better solution. Just try not to overdo it on the sugar or you may find your waistline no better off for the switch.

Coconut Water

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Many people get hooked on soda because they simply hate the taste of water. We get it: water is tasteless and basic no matter how much lemon you squeeze in. But coconut water, especially when it’s mixed with fruit flavor like pineapple, tastes like a party and is ultra-hydrating to boot. Why not reach for one instead of soda next time you’re super thirsty?

Green Tea

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Another healthy alternative for folks who drink soda for energy is green tea. If coffee makes you too jittery but soda gives you a sugar crash, green tea is your happy medium as it has less caffeine than coffee and about the same amount as a soda.

Organic Lemonade

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If you like soda as a once-a-day sweet treat, why not try some lemonade instead? An eight-ounce Newman’s Own Organic Lemonade has just 110 calories to Coca-Cola’s 182 and 18 fewer grams of sugar.

Naturally Sweetened Soda

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If you absolutely cannot give up the taste of soda, why not switch to one that’s naturally sweetened? Unlike diet sodas sweetened with chemicals, sodas like Zevia are sweetened with a naturally growing plant extract. You can still find flavors like cola, root beer, and grape, but with no calories and no chemicals.

Sparkling Water

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Maybe you drink soda because you love the bubbles. If you’d like to cut out calories and chemicals, why not try a flavored sparkling water? Brands like La Croix come in refreshing flavors like grapefruit and mango. After lightening up with these for a few days, you won’t miss the heavy taste of soda.

Diet Tea

Do you kinda love the taste of diet soda even though you know your ten-a-day habit can’t be healthy? Brands like Sweet Leaf offer teas with no sweetener save a hint of citrus, resulting in the bittersweet flavor diet soda lovers crave.

Juice

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Okay, juices get a bad rap, but if you’re trying to steer clear of soda and don’t want to be relegated to plain water, there are juices out there that are low calorie and very delicious. Just make sure that there are no added sugars and they’re not from concentrate. Fresh, organic juice is actually a pretty healthy drink if you don’t overdo it.

Homemade Flavored Water

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Warning: approach flavored water with extreme caution. If you’re looking to switch soda for something healthier but find water boring, the right flavored waters can be a godsend. However, some “vitamin waters” contain more sugar than your soda ever dreamed of! The best bet is to make your own. Throw cucumber, cherries, mint, or whatever floats your boat into a pitcher of ice water to soak overnight, and voila, you’ve got a healthy, delicious soda alternative in hours.


Don’t Pop That Top

A 12-ounce cola has about 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar. That’s 4 teaspoons more than most women should have in an entire day and 1 more than most men should. Too much sugar in your diet is bad for your teeth, can make you gain weight, and isn’t good for your heart. That may be because it can raise your blood pressure and put harmful fats in your bloodstream.


How Seltzer & Natural Syrups Can Help Kick That Soda Addiction

If you have a soda addiction you’re trying to kick, seltzer alone might not quite do it. But seltzer plus natural syrups can be great healthier soda alternatives.

Seltzer is all the rage right now thanks to LaCroix, Polar, and a bunch of other brands—and that’s before you even get to hard seltzer‘s recent spike in popularity. Obviously, you should save the spiked seltzer for the evening, but drinking slightly essenced non-alcoholic seltzer might not be enough sweetness to power through the hours beforehand if you’re used to drinking a couple cans of Coke a day. Enter: the syrups you’d typically use for cocktails.

Related Reading: What Is Hard Seltzer?

These are slim bottles of thickly concentrated flavor like ginger, berry, or even cola that you can add at your own pace to your favorite plain seltzer. Too often with sodas prepared for us, we have no idea how much sugar is going into our drinks. If you add your own syrup, you can control the amount, and taste along the way.

If it’s your New Year’s resolution to wean yourself off of Coke, it’ll be easier if you can have something else you like that’s just a little less sweet.

SodaStream Jet Sparkling Water Maker, $73.99 on Amazon

Make your own seltzer all year long.

Here are some syrups you can try, whether you want to DIY or leave it up to someone else.

Homemade Syrup

You can make your own simple syrup (literally just a syrup combining sugar and water) when you abide by a “simple” 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. Add a cup of sugar to a cup of water and heat on low, until the sugar is dissolved. Then add a second cup and heat until the syrup thickens. You can add a splash of vodka as a preservative. To make flavored syrup, add lemon zest, berries, or herbs to the mixture when warming.

Rhubarb Syrup

Adding fresh rhubarb gives you a nice balance of tang and sweetness. Get our Rhubarb Syrup recipe.

Strawberry Syrup

Strawberries add a fruity kick, but this is best when they’re in season. Get our Strawberry Syrup recipe. Try this trick with other berries too, like blackberries.

Cranberry Simple Syrup

Another nicely tart option so you’re not overwhelmed by sugar. Get our Cranberry Simple Syrup recipe.

Cinnamon Syrup

If you prefer a bit of spicy bite, cinnamon-infused syrup is a great choice. Get our Cinnamon Syrup recipe.

Mint Syrup

Love the cooling freshness of mint? Turn that into a syrup too. Get our Mint Syrup recipe. (And experiment with other herbs as well, alone or in combination, like our Lavender-Thyme Syrup recipe.)

Chile-Tamarind Syrup

Tamarind has a sweet and sour flavor that’s great in a syrup by itself, but add some chile if you like a little heat. Get our Chile-Tamarind Syrup recipe.

Best Syrups to Buy

If you’d rather leave the work to the professionals, these are some great store-bought syrup options.

More Good

More Good is based in Beacon, NY and they make syrups in all kinds of nuanced, interesting flavors, from Jalapeño Black Tea to Hibiscus Rooibos. Additionally, More Good does annual fundraisers to provide clean water to areas of the planet that desperately need it. Their syrups are on the more expensive side ($13 a bottle) but if you’re buying packs of soda for yourself, it’ll definitely end up being less expensive in the long run. Buy Now

SodaStream

If you’ve ever been to a Bed Bath and Beyond, you’ve probably been pitched buying a SodaStream machine, a carbon dioxide canister, and one of the big, friendly looking jugs of syrup. These come in off-brand, not copyright infringement names, like Dr. Pete’s and Fountain Mist. So if you’re looking for that Dr. Pepper or Sprite taste, you can definitely find it with the SodaStream brand. They also have essences (like you’d find in a LaCroix) called “waters” and fruit flavorings called “fruit drops,” as well. Buy Now

Torani Syrup

Visited an Italian style cafe recently? The baristas are probably making flavored coffee and teas by using Torani syrup. It comes in giant bottles with a wide variety of flavors from Blue Raspberry to Orange. Not as nuanced as More Good, but worth it if you are going to go through a ton of the stuff. Buy Now

PokPok’s Drinking Vinegars

Chef Andy Ricker has lit up New York City and Portland with his authentic Thai food, and has made an entire business off of Thai drinking vinegars, sold in Whole Foods. Vinegar has been known to kickstart and cleanse your digestive system and Chef Ricker combines apple cider vinegar with fruit flavors like Tamarind to give your seltzer a spicy, acidic kick. This is next-level soda. Buy Now


Cola Drink

Per one cup serving: 35 calories, 8.7 g sugar (calculation based off using three gallons of carbonated water)

Although this recipe may not taste exactly like Coca-Cola or Pepsi, it comes pretty darn close! At just 35 calories per serving, it's definitely worth giving it a try.

Get the recipe from Not Quite Nigella.


You might know Health-Ade for its seemingly endless array of organic kombucha flavors. Their latest innovation, Booch Pop, is kombucha meets soda — and it’s delicious. Lemon-Lime and Ginger Fizz are clear bids to appeal to lovers of lemon-lime sodas and ginger ale Pom-Berry, is the sweetest of the three, but it’s also pleasantly tart. Made with organic ingredients and cold-pressed juices, all deliver a fizzier, slightly-sweeter version of kombucha that you can still feel good about.

Rishi makes some beautiful organic teas, so it’s no surprise that their line of Sparkling Botanicals is the most sophisticated healthy soda alternative we tasted. And, with absolutely no sugar added and organic, ethically sourced herbs, these all-natural drinks are about as pure as you can get. Flavors include Black Lemon Dandelion Ginger Grapefruit Quince Turmeric Saffron Patagonia Maqui and Schisandra Berry. Turmeric Saffron, which is somehow earthy and spicy, tastes like nothing you’ve likely had in a sparkling beverage before.


10 Reasons Soda is Bad for Your Health

Having a coke along with a burger and fries may seem like one of our harmless, beloved all-American traditions, but you should know that there are many dangers hidden in your soda. Whether it’s due to the fizz or the caffeine boost, soda is one of the most popular sugary drinks on the market. But it’s also one of the unhealthiest beverages you can consume. Soda does not provide any nutritional value and is generally bad for your health.

We all know that soda has a lot of sugar. Diet soda is not any better since it contains artificial sweeteners, which are also unhealthy. But that’s not all. Soda also contains several other ingredients that are bad for your health.

What is in soda?

Clever marketing campaigns and catchy jingles may help sell soda. But do you really know what ingredients are in popular soft drinks? Although it may vary by brand and type, sugar is one of the common ingredients in soda. A 12-ounce can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar. That’s just in one can. Consider some larger servings at fast-food restaurants have two or three times that much.

Acids are also in most types of soda. For example, phosphoric acid is added to give soda a tangy flavor. Other acids that are sometimes added include tartaric, carbonic, and citric. Soda may also contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, flavorings, and preservatives.

Why is soda bad for your health?

Whether you drink diet or regular, soda is bad for your health. It contains no nutrients and is essentially empty calories. Drinking too much soda is linked to several health conditions. Regardless of the type, here are 10 reasons soda is bad for your health:

  1. Weight gain: It’s not surprising that soda is linked to weight gain. The high sugar content makes it one of the worst beverages you can drink. Analysis of studies published in thirty peer-reviewed journals over 40 years indicated that drinking soda is a key contributor to the increase in obesity in the United States. (1)
  2. Damages the Teeth: Drinking soda damages the teeth due to its acid level and high sugar content. The sugar increases the risk of cavities. The various acids in soda cause tooth erosion. Tooth erosion involves the decrease in dental tissues including dentine and enamel. In one study, bovine teeth were extracted, and enamel was measured. The teeth were placed in 200 ml of various sugary drinks including different types of soda for one week. The teeth exposed to citrus sodas had significant loss of dental hard tissue. (2)
  3. Increases Cancer Risk: Certain types of soda, such as cola, contain caramel coloring. Caramel coloring is made with ammonium compounds. During the manufacturing process, sugars, ammonium compounds, and sulfites form 4-methylimidazole and 2-methylimidazole. In studies, both chemicals were shown to induce cancer growth in animals including liver and lung cancer. (3)
  4. Side Effects of Caffeine: Many varieties of soda contain caffeine. Caffeine can lead to problems, such as trouble sleeping, jitteriness, and anxiety. Caffeine can also be addictive, which means kicking the habit can be difficult.
  5. Accelerates Bone Loss: The phosphate acid in soda is thought to interfere with the absorption of calcium, which can lead to a loss of bone mineral density. In a study involving 1,413 women and 1,125 men, their bone density was measured at their spine and three sites on the hip using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. The participant’s dietary intake was also assessed using a questionnaire. The study indicated that cola intake was associated with a significant decrease in bone mineral density in women. (4)
  6. Risk of Fatty Liver Disease: Soda is often sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, which has several negative health consequences including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is a significant risk factor for developing cirrhosis of the liver and heart disease. In both animal and human studies, high-fructose corn syrup had a triglyceride raising effect, which contributed to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In one study involving 341 people with fatty liver disease, results indicated that consuming high-fructose corn syrup daily increased liver inflammation. (5)
  7. Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners: Most types of diet soda contain some type of artificial sweetener. Sweeteners, such as sucralose (Splenda), saccharin, and aspartame, are associated with several health problems, including lupus, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis. (6) Aspartame, also known as NutraSweet and Equal, is associated with increased incidence of brain tumors, mood disorders, declining mental function, migraines and seizures.
  8. Increased Risk of Diabetes: Drinking soda also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The Nurses’ Health Study researched the link between soda consumption and type 2 diabetes. The study involved over 90,000 women who were followed for eight years. Participants in the study that reported drinking one or more servings of sugar-sweetened soft drinks developed diabetes twice as often during the study than those who rarely drink soda. (7)
  9. Benzene: Benzene is a possible cancer causing substance that is found in small levels in some types of soda. It has been linked to leukemia. (8) Benzene levels in bottled water are monitored and regulated. But levels in soda are only monitored informally, which means the exact levels may not be known. Benzene forms due to the presence of benzoate salts, which are used as a preservative, and ascorbic acid, which is in certain carbonated soft drinks.
  10. Increased the Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Drinking sugary soda may increase a woman’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. One study followed over 180,000 women who completed a food-frequency questionnaire at the start of the study and every four years as part of the follow-up. The study indicated that women who drank one or more servings of sugary soda daily had a 63 percent increase in developing seropositive rheumatoid arthritis when compared to women who rarely drank soda. (9)
Healthy Alternatives to Soda

When it comes to healthy beverages, water is often your best bet. But when you want something with a little more flavor or sparkle, there are several healthy alternatives to soda. Consider some of the suggestions below.

  • Infused water: To add a little more flavor to your water, try infusing it with fruit, such as berries or oranges. Mint and cucumber also are good options for a refreshing alternative to soda.
  • Sparkling water: Carbonated water is a good choice when you need to satisfy your craving for soda. Although carbonated water can still cause a little bloating and gas, it’s still a healthier choice than soda.
  • Zevia:Zevia is a healthier type of soda sweetened with stevia and monk fruit. There are a variety of flavors, including cola that does not use artificial colorings. It does contain sugar alcohol, which some people may have a sensitivity to.
  • Iced green tea: Green tea is calorie free as long as you don’t add sugar or milk. It is also high in antioxidants and is available in several varieties.

So, are you ready to kick your soda habit now? Today there are so many natural and healthy alternatives to soda to help make it easy to make the switch. Make this healthy change in your life and your body will thank you!


What soda alternatives you should buy

While your go-to source of hydration throughout the day should be water, it can be tough to go cold turkey if soda has been a part of your routine for a while. While coffee, detox water, and tea can make the transition to a soda-free life easier, sometimes you just want to grab something with a bit of fizz or familiar flavor that's ready-to-drink. Thankfully there are tons of healthy soda alternatives flooding the market that fit that very description, and we've got the scoop on the best of them. Then, don't miss The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

These are the 25 best healthy alternatives to soda you can buy to cut back on sugar-laden cola.


The Bad Habit: Eating Too Quickly

Wolfing down your food, whether you’re snacking or eating a meal, doesn’t give your brain time to catch up with your stomach. Your brain doesn’t signal that you’re full until about 15 to 20 minutes after you’ve started eating. If you gulp down your meal in 10 minutes or less, you could end up eating way more than you need. In a study of 3,200 men and women, Japanese researchers found that eating too quickly was strongly associated with being overweight.

The Fix: To slow down your eating, physically put your fork down between bites, take smaller bites, and be sure to chew each bite thoroughly. Also, drinking water throughout your meal will help you slow down and feel fuller as you go.


7. Homemade Smoothie

Christin Urso

I specify homemade because some store-bought smoothies are loaded with added sugar, so making your own is better because you know exactly what goes into it. The sweetness from the smoothie may help with the soda cravings and helps you get in your daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Making your own smoothies allows you to get creative and use whatever your heart desires to form your favorite flavor.


Most lemonade sold at the store tends to be laden in added sugar and other preservatives. By preparing this lemonade home, you have the ultimate ingredient control!

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups drinking water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 medium lemons or 6 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the water and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn off the stovetop, stir in honey until dissolved, and allow to cool.
  3. If using fresh lemons, lightly roll across the counter to loosen some of the juice. Slice lemons in half and juice into a large pitcher, making sure to remove seeds.
  4. Add honey water into a large pitcher with lemon juice.
  5. Stir together, chill, and serve!

Like water, lemonade can be flavored with. Fun new ways to enjoy your lemonade include cucumber basil and watermelon jalapeño.



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