What you drink has a huge impact on your health. In fact, sugary beverages are the number one source of sugar in Canadian’s diets. UBC committed to helping community members choose healthier options by launching a Healthy Beverage Initiative.
What is a Healthy Beverage?
A healthy beverage is:
- Low in sugar (less than 8 grams per bottle)
- Contains simple ingredients
- Free from chemicals and additives, like artificial sweeteners and caramel colour
The ultimate healthy beverage is tap water (if safe to drink in your community). Canada’s Food Guide recommends making water your drink of choice. Drinking water is important for your health, staying hydrated, and quenching your thirst without added sugar.
Make water your drink of choice by:
- Bringing a reusable water bottle with you and fill it up at water fountains.
- Ask for water when you eat out.
- Drink some water at each meal.
- Ensure you are replenishing your fluids with water during and after exercise (in most cases, a sports drink is not needed).
- Try sparkling water or hot water with lemon.
- Add flavour to your water by adding some chopped fruit and herbs. For example, lemon and mint, strawberries and basil, raspberries and cucumbers.
A common recommendation is drinking 6 to 8 cups (8 fl oz) of water each day. Adults may need more or less depending on their health, exercise and climate conditions.
Added vs Natural Sugar
Sugar is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in or is added to beverages. Added sugars are added during processing.
Common example of sugar-sweetened beverages are:
- Pops, fruit juices, sweet teas, sport drinks, energy drinks and specialty water such as vitamin water
- Other names include “cocktails”, “punch” and “-ade” such as lemonade.
Identifying added sugars on an ingredient list may be difficult because they’re not always labelled as “sugar”. Here are different forms of added sugars that commonly show up on ingredient lists:
- Sugar/Cane Sugar
- Corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Invert sugar
Natural sugars are found in fruit (called fructose) and dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese (called lactose). Beverages, such as cow’s milk, with natural sugars can be nutritious choices and part of a healthy eating plan.
That being said, fruit and vegetable juices and commercial smoothie drinks are still very high sources of sugar (“natural” or not). It is better to eat your fruit and vegetables than to drink them. Water should still be your first choice beverage.
Choosing Healthy Beverages
Here is a breakdown of some of the beverages to choose more often and to choose least often:
|Beverages To Choose Most
|Beverages To Choose Sometimes
|Beverages To Avoid
|Homemade fruit smoothies with no added sugar
|Cow’s milk (unsweetened, lower fat %)
|100% fruit juices
|Sweetened bubble teas, iced teas, and sugary specialty teas, sweetened milks/plant based milks
|Plant-based milks (fortified, unsweetened)
|100% vegetable juices (these are usually high in sodium)
|Hot or cold coffee or tea (unsweetened; limit your caffeine intake to 2 cups of regular coffee and 8 cups of black tea a day )
|Specialty coffees or teas made with added syrups or sweeteners
|Sparkling water (unsweetened) Waters with added fruit or herbs
|Fruit cocktails (with added sugar)
|Store bought smoothies or yogurt drinks (with added sugar)
The Bottom Line
Your beverage choice can negatively or positively impact your health which is why it’s important to be mindful of what you’re drinking. For optimal health, choose water most often!
- Is drinking bottled water healthier than tap water?
- Check out this blog post to learn more!
- I enjoy being active and playing sports but I’m not an athlete. Should I drink sport drinks over water?
- Generally for non-athletes, plain water is the best choice because the duration and intensity level of the exercise is too low to require a sports drink.
- Drink plenty of water and replace the carbohydrates and electrolytes lost by eating a meal or snack following exercise.
- What is the Healthy Beverage Initiative at UBC?
- The Healthy Beverage Initiative at UBC is a campus-wide initiative that promotes having access to healthy beverages on campus, plus the information necessary to make healthy dietary choices in order to help UBC community members thrive.
- This initiative hopes to:
- Encourage drinking water consumption
- Promote healthier beverage choices
- Modify our environment to support healthier beverage consumption
- If you are interested in learning more about this initiative see here.