Take a look at any vending machine and you will see at least ten different beverage choices. Walk into any grocery or convenient store and you will face hundreds of choices, many of which look, and even taste, like the same product. Confused on what to choose? Here are three simple things to consider to help you think about your drink!
1. Choose a Drink with a Nutrition Facts Label
Before deciding whether you should be putting certain ingredients into your body, checking a beverage for a Nutrition Facts label is important for determining what is in a product.
Beverages in the United States are monitored under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, and their ingredients and nutrients are clearly defined for consumers. However, Dietary Supplements such as energy drinks, fall into a different regulation category and distributors of these beverages can list ingredients that aren’t permitted on beverage labels. Does your energy drink have a subscript in its daily value column? It’s likely that particular ingredient does not have established daily value recommendations— meaning research doesn’t clearly show how much our body should be processing. These may be ingredients you might want to avoid, especially in large doses.
2. Check the Serving Size
100 calories to indulge in your favorite beverage may seem fairly harmless, unless the 100 calories only refers to one cup of a large bottle. If you plan to drink a whole can or bottle, be sure to multiply the entire Nutrition Facts label by the “number of servings per container” to get accurate amounts.
For some of those tricky beverages, remember:
8 ounces in 1 cup
8 ounces is a ½ pint
1 cup is 237 milliliters (mL)
3. Caution Sugar
There are lots of things to look at on a Nutrition Facts label, but perhaps the most helpful line when it comes to comparing beverages is Sugar. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests consuming less than 10% of your calories from added sugar—many health organizations suggest cutting back even further. What does that mean in numbers?
In a 2000 calorie diet:
Less than 10% of calories is less than 200 calories from added sugar
200 calories is 50 grams of added sugar
One of the biggest culprits contributing to added sugar in our diets are sugary beverages. A 12 ounce soda for example, may have up to 40 grams of added sugar or about 80% of the recommended daily value. One of the many reasons we love milk is because no sugar is added to white milk. Milk is naturally sweet due to the milk sugar, lactose.
Beverages provide a great opportunity to get more than refreshment- you can get nutrients too. While all of the choices available can be overwhelming, reading labels and comparing choices can help you choose the best beverage choice for your lifestyle.