Registered dietitian, nutritionist, and certified personal trainer for the University of Texas at Austin RecSports Joey Gochnour warns that cranberry juice cocktails actually have “very little real juice and are mostly sugar, sometimes having 30 grams per one-cup serving.” So forgo the cocktail in favor of the tart, real juice.
These drinks are a healthier option than soda, but only when they are really just iced tea. Bottled varieties often contain very little actual tea. Even if you choose one with low amounts of sugar, it may be filled with preservatives. Be sure to read the labels very carefully.
Rehydrating sports drinks contain high levels of sodium, potassium, and sugar. High concentrations of these can cause high blood pressure, seizures, and cardiac problems. The Academy of General Dentistry also points out that “sports drinks are highly acidic and can erode the tooth enamel.”
Many calorie counters still choose diet over regular soda, but health and fitness expert Gabi Rose warns that diet sodas can actually contribute to obesity, since “artificial sweeteners can disrupt the body’s natural ability to regulate calorie intake based on the sweetness of foods,” leading dieters to crave more.
While orange juice does contain vitamin C, it also contains massive amounts of sugars. Certain brands are the sugar equivalent of sodas. And due to the methods of processing, orange juice is nutritionally poor compared to fresh oranges. In the case of orange juice, go fresh-squeezed or go home!
“Vitamin Water has about 30 grams of sugar in 20 fluid ounces (2.5 cups)," says Gochnour. "You probably don't need the vitamins if you eat a balanced diet, especially if you are already taking a multivitamin, eating fortified cereal, or eating fortified meal replacement/energy bars.”
V8 Vegetable Juice touts “heart healthy” and “essential antioxidants” on its label, but it packs a heavy punch of sodium inside. A single serving contains 490 mg of sodium. Compare that to the 290 mg of sodium in a large order of McDonald’s French fries and find a better way to get your veggies.
"Health drinks in the forms of smoothies, which include Odwalla, Naked, and Bolthouse, are high in sugar and preservatives," says Anthea G. Noel, a Registered Nurse Specialist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and contributor to HealthyYouNow.com. "Some may contain up to 36 grams of sugar in each serving. Bottled drinks may be more convenient, but it is more beneficial to blend fresh fruit and vegetables.”
Converts hail its powers of rehydration, but L.V. Anderson at Slate reports that “coconut water’s ostensible health benefits have been repeatedly disproven.” It costs more, it’s an acquired taste, and it isn’t likely to be much better for you than regular tap water.
Flavoring water can encourage you to get your required H2O, but Rachel Begun, MS, RDN, and food and nutrition consultant in Boulder, Colo., warns that “When it comes to flavored waters, you really have to turn the package around and look at the ingredients statement for artificial ingredients such as colors and flavors.”