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Change your beverage, improve your health.

Toni-Ann DiSantis

Change your beverage, improve your health. (via Cleveland Clinic Wellness)

You know that what’s on your plate can tilt you in the direction of health or illness. But don’t forget about what’s in your glass. We’re not talking about alcohol, though make sure you’re within moderate range on that front (no more than one drink a day for women, two for men). We’re referring to the wolves in sheep’s clothing of the beverage world: sugar-sweetened drinks. Soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, packaged iced teas, and fruit drinks go down easy but can hit your health hard. Food is like marriage—you wouldn’t marry someone who doesn’t love you back. Well, these drinks don’t love you back. Past research has shown that drinking them regularly can up your risk of weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease, and a new study shows they can increase your risk of an early death, from heart disease in particular. In analyzing data from more than 100,000 men and women, researchers found that the more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) people drank, the more likely they were to die prematurely, with just two SSBs a day linked to a 31 percent increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 21 percent increase of dying from any cause. Women were especially vulnerable to the health harms of sugar. A 12-ounce can of one popular soda contains 39 grams of added sugar—that’s almost 10 teaspoons of sugar, and higher than the American Heart Association’s recommended limits for a whole day. Many packaged iced teas and “sports drinks” are similarly sugar-laden. Skip the empty calories and the serious health risks of these products by making water or black coffee or plain tea your main beverage. (Talk about classic!) If you’re craving a little flavor, add a squeeze of lemon or lime. Longing for fizz? Try seltzer with (or without) a splash of citrus. Taking care of your body with the foods and drinks that help it thrive is plenty sweet indeed.