Mason County News
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Family Times
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 • Posted August 11, 2010

Rethink Your Drink

Choosing healthy beverages is a great first step to an overall healthy diet. Americans are drinking more soft drinks than ever. Per capita soft-drink consumption has increased almost 500 percent over the past 50 years. There is enough regular soda produced to supply every American with more than 14 ounces of soda every day. One reason for the steady rise in soft drink consumption is larger portion sizes; fountain drinks can range in size from 22 to 64 ounces. Children start drinking soda at a remarkably young age, and consumption increases through young adulthood.

People who drink soft drinks take in more calories than those who do not. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with weight gain, overweight, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. A 12-ounce can of soda has 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup. If these calories are added to the typical diet without cutting back on something else, one soda a day could lead to a weight gain of 15 pounds in one year.

Sports drinks, another popular soft drink, are for athletes who participate in high-intensity, aerobic exercise for at least 90 minutes. Most kids are not this active. The added sugar and sodium in sports drinks are unnecessary for children and youth. Sports drinks offer little advantage over water for kids.

Try these tips to help you and your family re-think your drink:

*Help children learn to enjoy water as the thirst quencher of choice.

*Make soft drinks a "sometimes" beverage to be enjoyed in moderate amounts. Remember that soft drinks include fruitades, fruit drinks, lemonade, energy drinks, sweet tea, and sports drinks.

*Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for easy access.

*Add lemon, lime, other fruit, or a splash of juice to water.

Fruit Juice versus Soft Drinks

Sometimes people switch from drinking soda or soft drinks to drinking fruit juice in an effort to control their weight. Surprisingly, ounce for ounce, 100% fruit juice may contain more calories than soda or soft drinks. This means that drinking the same amount of juice instead of soda or soft drinks could actually contribute to weight gain! At the very best, switching from soft drinks to juice is not helping with calorie control.

Another issue is that fruit juices are often confused with sweetened beverages that contain little or no real juice. Watch out for beverages that are labeled as "fruit punches," "juice drinks," or "juice cocktails." Always look for the word "juice" all by itself or "100% juice." Fruit juice should be the first ingredient listed on the ingredients list. Avoid fruit beverages that contain sugar, corn syrup, or other sweeteners.

While 100% fruit and vegetable juice contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it is best to eat whole fruits and vegetables as opposed to juice. Juice lacks the fiber that whole fruit contains. If you do consume juice, make sure it is 100% fruit or vegetable juice, and consume it in small amounts. An adult serving size for fruit juice is 4 to 6 fluid ounces, not the 20-ounce bottle you see in vending machines and convenience stores.

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