Avoiding all sugar is simply not realistic. It’s in so much of our food supply, including items you wouldn’t think have sugar in the first place, such as ketchup and bread. In your effort to root out added sugar you may be tempted to cut down on sugary fruit, but don’t get too obsessed over this. Fruits are still good for you. So, where should you cut added sugar? As a popular public health campaign once said, rethink your drink!
Soda is by far the largest source of added sugar in the American diet, accounting for a third of our overall consumption. Enjoying a soda or other sweetened beverage once in a while is still fine, but you don’t want to make it a habit. By now you’ve probably chased out those soda cans from your kitchen cabinet (if you haven’t, start there!). For bonus points, cut back on ordering sugar-sweetened drinks at restaurants. To help you, we’ve rounded up 15 high-sugar drinks not to order.
15 High-Sugar Drinks to Avoid
1. Pina Colada (16-ounce): This sweet cocktail is made with rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice. Empty calories come from both alcohol and added sugar. A typical glass sets you back a whopping 28 teaspoons of sugar!
Nutrition Info Estimate: 880 calories, 112 grams sugar
2. Sangria (16-ounce): Sangria is a sweet alcoholic beverage made by mixing wine with fruit and juice. While it all depends on what ingredients go into your brew, a standard serving contains about 19 teaspoons of sugar.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 400 calories, 76 grams sugar
3. Pink Lemonade (16-ounce): This widely available beverage uses added sugar to balance out the sour lemon taste. A glass of storebought pink lemonade typically contains about 13 teaspoons of sugar.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 440 calories, 51 grams sugar
4. Thai Iced Tea (16-ounce): Thai iced tea is commonly made by mixing chilled Ceylon tea, sweetened condensed milk and sugar, of course. You can find this beverage at Thai and Vietnamese restaurants.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 255 calories, 42 grams sugar
5. Horchata (16-ounce): Variations of this drink can be found in Spanish, Latin American or Mexican restaurants. Horchata is the liquid obtained by grinding rice or nuts. Folks tend to add cinnamon, vanilla and sugar to give the drink its characteristic warm flavor.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 246 calories, 43 grams sugar
6. Cola (16-ounce): Whether you prefer Coke or Pepsi, you’ll find some version of cola at almost all eateries. This sweetened, carbonated beverage contains trace amounts of caffeine and large amounts of sugar. A 16-ounce serving contains 12 teaspoons of added sugar.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 206 calories, 49 grams sugar
7. Cranberry Juice (16-ounce): Hold up, what the heck is juice doing here? Cranberries naturally contain very little sugar, but plop a fresh, unseasoned berry in your mouth come Thanksgiving and you’ll understand why this juice made the list. It’s very sour and requires lots of sugar to be mixed in before it tastes palatable. A 16-ounce glass of sweetened cranberry juice has more sugar than colas!
Nutrition Info Estimate: 242 calories, 56 grams sugar
8. Coffee Frappuccino (16-ounce): This sweet treat is usually blended with syrupy sauces and heavy cream. A typical 16-ounce serving can contain 13 teaspoons of added sugar.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 240 calories, 50 grams sugar
9. Ice Slushee (16-ounce): A cold, sweet slushee (aka Icee) may seem like a refreshing reprieve from the summer heat, but this beverage packs a dense 18 teaspoons of sugar into 16 ounces! Depending on the color, slushees may also contain artificial foods dyes that some folks find hard to stomach.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 317 calories, 71 grams sugar
10. Orange Soda (16-ounce): Unlike its whole food counterpart (the fresh orange), orange soda is formulated with added sugar and food dye, which may be linked to hyperactivity in kids. Yellow 6 is a common dye used to give orange soda a tinge of sunset yellow. Instead of swishing down orange soda, try 100% orange juice, or better yet, just eat the fruit!
Nutrition Info Estimate: 255 calories, 63 grams sugar
11. Hot chocolate (16-ounce): Rich hot chocolate is a wonderful holiday treat, but drink it regularly throughout the year and you could be adding lots of empty calories to your waistline. A standard 16-ounce serving of hot chocolate is 400 calories — almost as many as a cheeseburger.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 400 calories, 43 grams sugar
12. Ginger Ale (16-ounce): This ginger-flavored carbonated beverage lacks the anti-inflammatory health benefits of actually consuming ginger. Like soda, ginger ale is loaded with added sugar. A glass contains 11 teaspoons of sugar diluted in water.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 166 calories, 43 grams sugar
13. Fruit Punch (16-ounce): Don’t be fooled by “fruit” in its name because fruit punch has very little in the way of fruit. In fact, fruit punch gets most of its flavor from, you guessed it, sugar. A glass of fruit punch has 15 teaspoons of added sugar.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 227 calories, 58 grams sugar
14. Sweet Tea (21-ounce): Sweet tea is a traditional Southern drink that can sometimes be sweeter than soda. It’s typically made by diluting lots of sugar into hot Lipton tea. An article in Slate alleged sweet tea can reach 22 Brix of sugar meaning it’s 22% sugar. If so, you could be drinking something that’s twice as sweet as cola. We don’t have the official stats, so we’re going with the meager 7 teaspoons of added sugar you’ll get if you sip 16-ounce of sweet tea elsewhere.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 110 calories and 28 grams of sugar
15. Vanilla Milkshake: A serving of vanilla milkshake at a popular fast food chain provides good insight into what a dense drink can pack. It amounts to 500 calories and 66 grams of sugar, which is 17 teaspoons of sugar.
Nutrition Info Estimate: 500 calories, 66 grams sugar