Thursday, April 20, 2017

Healthy Spring Sips (Beverages)

Passion fruit herbal tea bags steeped and chilled
Have you ever thought about the amount of added sugar that you are consuming per day? Most tend to think in terms of sugary snacks and candies; however, many don’t realize just how much added sugar (and calories) are in their favorite beverages. Extra flavor syrups in your coffee, sports drinks, sweetened teas, and sodas, can all add up throughout the day. High added sugar intake can lead to an increased risk for obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, cavities, and more. The American Heart Association recommends an added sugar threshold of no more than 100 calories per day (6 teaspoons or 24g of sugar) for women and no more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons or 36g of sugar) for men. The average American consumes more than double the average intake. One thing to note is that whole fruit (fresh, frozen or canned with no-sugar-added) is not included in this added sugar limitation since whole fruit is also packaged with nutrients and fiber and research shows it can prevent the diseases mentioned prior. By taking charge of your health and limiting added sugars you can reach your goals, whether they are related weight loss or disease prevention.

Reading food labels is one way to start monitoring your added sugar intake. Look at the ingredient list to ensure that sugar is not one of the first few (3-4) listed. Ingredients are listed on the package in descending order by weight, which means that the largest quantity appears first. Look at the sugary beverages that you currently drink and think about how you can swap them for something healthier. Instead of lemon-lime soda, try unsweetened seltzer water with freshly squeezed lemon. Instead of sweetened tea, try brewing your own herbal tea bags and serving over ice. Instead of sugary sports drinks with artificial ingredients, re-hydrate with whole fruits like watermelon or simply water. Also, try carrying around a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day to help boost your overall fluid intake. Flavor water up with lemon, lime, or orange wedges or try a fruit infused recipe below!

Fruit Infused Water Recipes (for 1 large pitcher)
-Strawberry Kiwi Cooler → 3 cups halved strawberries + 3 kiwis, sliced + 2 lemons sliced + Ice water
-Berry → 2 cups raspberries + 2 cups blackberries + Ice water
-Cucumber → 6 mint leaves + 2 cucumbers, sliced + 4 limes, sliced + Ice water
-Basil Berry → 2 cups strawberries, halved + ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
**Be sure to gently squish and muddle your ingredients to release the most flavor

Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite recipe or beverage is that is also low in added sugars!

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