soda cans on ice
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Kick the Soda Can

A 12-ounce cola has about 150 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar. That’s 4 teaspoons more than most women should have in an entire day and 1 more than most men should. Too much sugar in your diet is bad for your teeth, can make you gain weight, and isn’t good for your heart. That may be because it can raise your blood pressure and put harmful fats in your bloodstream.

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woman drinking from water bottle in gym
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When you’re thirsty, reach for a glass of water -- your body will thank you for it. This naturally sugar-free option is good for you in many ways. Staying hydrated helps keep your body the right temperature, gets rid of waste, and even helps your joints move.

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glasses of lemonade
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Homemade Lemonade

If water by itself isn’t your thing, spruce it up with some lemon and a little sugar. That sweet-and-sour combo can sneak it -- and its health benefits -- right past your taste buds.

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couple drinking coffee
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Part of your soda craving could have something to do with the caffeine in soft drinks. Try a cup of coffee instead. Even with a teaspoon of sugar, about 15 calories, it's better for you than a typical soda.

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green tea on ice
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Replace that soda with a cup of tea, especially the green variety. It may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. But be careful not to add too much sugar, or you’ll tilt the scale back the wrong way.

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sparkling water and apple
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A little juice in some sparkling water is kind of like a soda and may be a way to scratch that soft-drink itch without the empty calories. But juice has at least as many calories per ounce as most soft drinks, so a little splash is all you want.

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couple drinking red wine
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Red Wine

Instead of a mixed drink with soda at the bar, go for a glass of red wine. It has fewer calories and may help protect the blood vessels in your heart, and help prevent blood clots. But don’t overdo it, and don’t start drinking alcohol if you don’t already. It can have harmful effects as well.

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dark chocolate on wooden table
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New Ritual

Old habits die hard, particularly when it comes to sugar. If you enjoy a soda every day at 3 p.m., it may be tough to kick it unless you replace it with something else you enjoy, say a cup of coffee or a square of dark chocolate.

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cola on ice close up
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Diet Soda

Don’t think of this as a good substitute. Research shows that the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas can throw off your metabolism, make you gain weight, and increase your risk for diabetes and heart disease. And a study of more than 3,000 women (mostly white) showed that two or more diet drinks a day can be hard on your kidneys.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 09/23/2020 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 23, 2020


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American Heart Association: “Added Sugars.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Heart Health Benefits of Chocolate.” “Hydration: Why It’s So Important.”

Harvard Health Publications: “Eating too much added sugar increases the risk of dying with heart disease,” “Health benefits linked to drinking tea,” “Sugary Drinks.”

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “How Sweet Is It?”

Mayo Clinic: “Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?”

MIT News: “How the brain controls our habits.”

National Kidney Foundation: “Say No to That Diet Soda.”

NIH News in Health: “Breaking Bad Habits.”

NIH Research Matters: “Diet Beverages and Body Weight.”

National Institutes of Health: “Encouraging Consumption of Water in School and Child Care Settings: Access, Challenges, and Strategies for Improvement.”

PubMed: “Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 23, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.