From dental care to general health, it’s likely that no food or drink gets mentioned more as a bad decision than sugary soda. Soft drinks find themselves in the spotlight (or crosshairs) for good reason. They are absolutely loaded with sugar, and pretty much nothing else. Here are some tasty options to consider as soft drink alternatives the next time you’re thinking about reaching for a soda.
You probably are tired of hearing about all the bad things sugar can do to teeth or its link to heart disease and diabetes. We even mentioned it in a recent blog post. Any chance to cut sugar out is usually a good idea. If you try to cut down on it, it’s hard to feel like you’re not fighting an uphill battle; so many products contain added sugar, from pasta sauce to condiments and canned soups.
While the first obvious soft drink alternatives might be drinking “sugar free” or “reduced sugar” soda varieties, other teeth-destroying ingredients such as added citric, tartaric and phosphoric acid are still present.
With their near ubiquitous appearance in health discussions, it comes as no surprise that there might be more “Top 10 alternatives to soda” lists than there are for anything else. Most of these focus on cutting out sugar for general health, so we’ll put together a couple sections on the best way to cut down on sugar for your teeth when considering soft drink alternatives.
Top-tier soft drink alternatives:
It’s too obvious, we have to include it. Of course the whole reason we drink soda is for flavor – so here’s the real alternative: Infused and flavored water. These are at the top of nearly every single list out there. This can be a good way to get the vibrant citrus flavors in your cup without including too much naturally occurring acid. There are literally infinite options out there. Like rosemary? Sage? Throw some herbs and cucumber into a big pitcher and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Try out all sorts of combos to see what you like best. There are some seriously tasty options out there, no sugar or acids required. When it comes to soft drink alternatives, infused and flavored waters are a best bet.
The key here is vegetable juice, not fruit. As for your smile, it is also a good way to eat your veggies without getting them stuck in your teeth. If you’re feeling up for it, get a juicer and find your own favorite mix. This is a good way to avoid any added sugars and sodium that you can run into in commercial options. Be careful with beets though, that juice can stain for sure. If you’re worried about a particularly colorful veggie staining your smile, drink some water afterwards.
Great soda alternatives, with qualifications:
You can totally cut out sugar with coffee, if you can take your coffee black that is, but the big drawback here is teeth staining. One extra benefit though is that if you rely on soda for caffeine, coffee contains way more and thus could help you get your fix. But chances are if you drink soda for caffeine, you don’t like coffee in the first place.
Just like coffee, if we’re not careful we can end up drinking a ton of self-added sugar. If you can handle the unsweetened varieties, it’s true that tea can be better for your health, but from a cosmetic standpoint it may not be the best alternative since tea will also stain your teeth. Green tea, while lighter in hue, can still stain, but the effect will probably be less noticeable than the dark brown stuff.
Better than soda options, not great for teeth:
Fruit juice is usually more acidic and contains a ton of sugar, even if none is added beyond what naturally is in the fruit. In fact, if you own a juicer, you could be loading your teeth up with sugar from making your own juice with apples and other fruit. If you juice, try to stick to vegetables. An okay happy medium here is to mix seltzer water with fruit juice.
Skip the store bought soda alternatives when possible
There are a ton of commercial options that fit most of these categories. Just be careful of added sugar in things like commercial fruit juices, coffee, tea and lighter-sounding seltzer-based drinks. In the end, it’s best to take matters into your own hands. It may be bit more work than reaching for the sugar-filled can, but in the end you can wind up with a new favorite drink made just for you, that treats your teeth better, too.