There’s more to store-bought lemonades than you might think. Grab a bottle out of the mini-mart cooler and you’ll slurp down a hefty dose of sweeteners including sugar, high fructose corn syrup and fruit juice concentrates. Popular brands contain 120 calories and 6 to 7 teaspoons of sugar per cup! The powdered mixes aren’t really any better. Most contain plenty of sugar (and even the ones that don’t use artificial sweeteners in their place). Powdered mixes are also filled with preservatives, artificial colors and artificial sweeteners.
A pitcher of homespun lemonade will at least ensure a dose of vitamin C from fresh lemon juice. And when you make your own, you can control the amount of sweetener used.
Much like lemonade, many bottled versions are highly sweetened; the worst being somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 calories and 6 teaspoons of sugar per cup, still less than your average lemonade. Powdered teas are similarly fortified with additives and artificial sweeteners.
Homemade iced tea can be sweetened to taste – or not sweetened at all! Alternative sweeteners and flavor boosters like fresh fruit and herbs may also be appealing.
Hopefully, your iced tea of choice actually contains some real tea. If so, whether it’s black, white or green, there’s the added benefit of its natural flavor plus antioxidants. Real tea also has caffeine, which may be a turnoff for some. A typical cup of brewed black tea contains about 40 milligrams of caffeine, or a little less than half of what you’ll find in a cup of coffee.
Healthy Eats Winner: Iced Tea. Either way, homemade versions of these popular drinks are surely the way to go. But iced tea comes out on top, thanks to its antioxidant content, plus you can sip the summer drink with minimal amounts of added sugar.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »