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The Absolute Worst Drinks for High Blood Sugar

If it’s sugary sweet, leave it on the shelf.

The worst drinks for blood sugar control are the drinks containing the greatest amount of sugar, also known as "sugar-sweetened beverages" (SSBs). Period. And the drinks that contain the greatest amount of sugar are sodas, blended soda drinks, and sweet tea.

This isn't rocket science. It's not even complicated nutrition science. Consuming a lot of sugar regularly leads to these bona fide killers: heart disease, many cancers, and diabetes. It's an easy concept to grasp.

A scientific analysis of data derived from following the health of more than 90,000 female nurses for eight years found that nurses who said they drank one or more servings of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) a day were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as women who rarely drank SSBs. That's extremely telling.

The paper, entitled "Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Weight Gain, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Young and Middle-Aged Women," appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was written by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, one of whom was Walter Willet, MD, a renowned professor of epidemiology, nutrition, and medicine, who had this to say about sugar, obesity, and chronic diseases like diabetes:

"We are in the middle of an epidemic of overweight and obesity. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Soda and other sugary beverages are one of the main factors fueling the epidemic of obesity," he says.

Willet goes on to say that obesity leads directly to an increased risk of heart disease, many cancers, and type 2 diabetes and that diabetes is often a prelude to frightening complications like kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, and amputation. If all that doesn't make you think twice about grabbing a soda pop or fruit drink today, listen to more of Willet's warnings in this YouTube video. Or check out our story, What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Soda Every Day.

For more incentive, check out the following list of over-the-top sweet sodas—you'll likely come away with a new appreciation for water.

Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew
Courtesy of Mountain Dew

The new Mountain Dew Live Wire, a neon orange concoction of high fructose corn syrup and concentrated orange juice is just as sugary sweet as the original neon green thirst quencher. A 20-ounce single-serving bottle contains 77 grams of added sugars. Need a visual? That's 18 and a half teaspoons of granulated sugar. Can you imagine eating that? And that all that sugar adds up to 290 calories, which is more energy than you get from a regular McDonald's hamburger.


ICEE / Facebook

Icees are made with carbonated water and a bunch of other stuff like yucca extract. And the first ingredient on the list? High fructose corn syrup. The 20-ounce Coca-Cola Icee available at Burger King delivers 74 grams of sugar to your body in addition to the brain freeze. Not to be outdone, the Icee company's Orange Crème packs 60 grams of sugar per just 12 fluid ounces of product. Do the math: it comes to 100 grams of sugar if you were to drink 20 ounces of Orange Crème Icee. That's the sugar equivalent of nearly 18 Oreo cookies.

 Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Can Lower Your Blood Sugar


opening coca cola bottles

Make no mistake, if you have a 20-ounce bottle of Coke in your hand, you're going to drink the whole thing even though you could have selected the 12-ounce can. Either way, it's one serving of sugary liquid. The 20-ouncer packs 65 grams of added sugar and 240 calories.

The Rest of the Fizzy Bunch

soda machine

To be fair, all the soda brands' sugar-sweetened offerings — from A&W Root Beer to Mellow Yello — pack significantly more added sugars per serving than the American Heart Association recommends we limit our intake to in an entire day. And how much is the recommended limit? About 9 teaspoons for men and 6 for women.

The 4 Worst Alcoholic Beverages for Blood Sugar.

Sweet Tea

iced tea in a mason jar with a green straw, lemon wheel, and a sprig of mint

If you're thinking it's about time to switch your lunchtime beverage choice to iced tea, you couldn't be more right. Or wrong. It depends on the kind you select. Unsweetened iced tea contains no sugar. That should be your go-to. Sweet tea is on par with sugar-sweetened soda. An 18.5-ounce serving of Pure Leaf Brewed Sweet Tea contains 42 grams of sugar. That's like swallowing 42 Gummy Bears.

Jeff Csatari
Jeff Csatari, a contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, is responsible for editing Galvanized Media books and magazines and for advising journalism students through the Zinczenko New Media Center at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA. Read more about Jeff
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