The top 10 worst things to drink

Written by rebecca macken
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The top 10 worst things to drink
Sweet and sugary fizzy drinks aren't known for their health-giving properties. (Image by Pink Sherbert Photography; Flickr.)

While water is recognised as the best drink due to its hydrating effects on the body and zero calorie count, the race for the worst drink is full of contenders, which can contribute to health issues such as obesity, heart problems and diabetes, as well as other minor issues. With so many drinks vying for unhealthy positions, it helps to know which are the worst of the worst.

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Energy drinks

While still a newer concept in drink manufacturing, energy drinks have risen to the top of the worst drinks list thanks to a combination of high sugar and high caffeine content. Many energy drinks contain hundreds of milligrams of caffeine per glass. In comparison, the average cup of coffee has just 100 milligrams per 227 gram serving. Some energy drinks also contain sugar, which has its own ill effects.

Soft drinks containing sugar

Soft drink manufacturers produce 45 billion litres of soft drinks every year. With an average of 8 teaspoons of sugar per every cup, this equals 128 teaspoons of sugar marketed to the public every year, not counting other sugar-based drinks. This sugar content equals excess calories, which researchers have linked to obesity and obesity-related health issues, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Non-soft drinks containing sugar

Any non-soft drink containing large amounts of added sugar, from juices to flavoured coffees and teas, falls into this category. Like soft drinks with sugar, the high sugar content in these drinks have been linked with increases in obesity and related complications.

Soft drinks containing artificial sugar

While artificially sweetened soft drinks are better than sugary soft drinks, since they do not increase a person's caloric intake, their long-term effects on weight and health are unknown, so it's best to limit them, if you drink them at all.

Non-soft drinks containing artificial sugar

Many sugar containing drinks have seen a rise in artificially sweetened equivalents in the past. Diet juices, teas and flavoured waters all contain artificial sugar. As with soft drinks containing artificial sugars, neither long-terms benefits nor dangers have been adequately proved, so it is best to avoid them.

Alcohol

While researchers see sugary drinks as part of the problem in the growth of the obesity problem in the UK, alcohol effects not only a person's physical health but can also have adverse effects on their overall social, economic and psychological condition. However, alcohol in moderation can have positive effects on the heart and vascular system, particularly in middle age. When used in excess, it can lead to addiction, liver failure, cancer and heart disease.

100 per cent fruit juice

Fruit juices can often be misleading; due the presence of vitamins they are a healthier alternative to many sugary drinks. However, they do still contain large amounts of sugar, which has led health experts to recommend that individuals limit their intake of 100 per cent fruit juice to only 1304 grams per day.

Milk

Milk is a great source of calcium but also has a high caloric value. Therefore, while it is not recommended that milk be completely removed from a person's diet, it is important to limit milk intake to a maximum of two low-fat or skimmed glasses per day. Children may need to drink more milk than this.

Tea

Tea comes in a variety of flavours and varieties, from loose leaf to premixed and bagged. Like juice and soft drinks, bottled iced tea drinks may contain sugar or artificial sugar so limit consumption. However, loose leaf and teabag varieties, which contain no sugar, are free of calories and are recommended due to perceived health benefits.

Coffee

Like tea, coffee in its natural, no-frills form, is free of both sugar and calories. Brewed coffee contains enough caffeine (100 milligrams per 227 grams) to give an energy boost but without the dangers of energy drinks. However, also like tea, premixed and bottled varieties, as well as concoctions containing sugar and cream, add unnecessary calories and sugar to an otherwise healthy drink.

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