4 Healthier Options to Replace Those Sugar-Sweetened Drinks

Patient Expert

Summer's heat means I'm constantly drinking iced tea. Have you noticed that almost everywhere you go, you have the option of sweetened or unsweetened tea? And some restaurants go so far as to advertising that their sweet tea is the best. With the latest news about sugary drinks, I always quietly thank my dearly departed mother who, when I was a child, would only let me add a slice of lemon to iced tea when I ordered it at restaurants.

Sugar-Sweetened Drinks = Scary Health Issues

Haven’t heard the news? A new study out of Tufts University found a tremendous worldwide health impact of consuming sugary sweet beverages.

The researchers found that, worldwide, 184,000 deaths a year were linked to these types of drinks.

(This number includes 25,000 American deaths.) Furthermore, researchers found that one in every 100 deaths worldwide from obesity-related diseases could be linked to regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

These types of drinks continue to be linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. The study also found that regular consumption of sweetened beverages was tied to:

  • 133,000 cases of diabetes
  • 45,000 cases of cardiovascular disease
  • 6,450 cases of cancer

Sugary drinks and other (healthier) options

So what exactly are sugar-sweetened drinks? The State of Rhode Island’s Department of Health identifies them as non-diet soft drinks/sodas, flavored juice drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks, energy drinks and electrolyte-replacement drinks. The calories in these drinks can lead to weight gain, while providing minimal nutritional value.

This summer, I'd encourage you to try healthier types of refreshments, such as:

  • Water, which can be enhanced through adding fruit, cucumber, mint, crushed berries or fresh ginger that has been peeled and sliced.
  • Sparkling water.
  • Homemade sparkling juice made by combining 12 ounces of sparkling water and 1-2 ounces of fresh fruit juice. Add sliced citrus or mint for additional flavor.
  • Flavored or green iced tea.

See more helpful articles:

Having a Heat Wave? Be Smart in Picking a Beverage

Keep Your Cool! Important Steps to Take to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses

Take Special Care of Your Canine Exercise Buddy During the Dog Days of Summer


Gebelhoff, R. (2015). Sugary Drinks Linked to 180,000 Deaths Annually. Washington Post.

Harvard School of Public Health. (ND). Healthy Drinks.

Singh, G. M., et al. (2015). Estimated Global, Regional, and National Disease Burdens Related to Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in 2010. Circulation.

Department of Health. (ND). Sugar-Sweetened Beverages. State of Rhode Island.