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The Worst Soda To Drink This Summer, According to an Expert

Don’t invite this beverage to your next pool party of grill out.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

When you need to entertain a crowd at a cookout or picnic, or just cool off after a hard day of work, nothing beats the heat of summer like a tall, cold glass of soda. While this sweet treat can hit the spot and stop sugar cravings in their tracks, the side effects of having this worst soda to drink add up.

"Soda is incredibly high in added sugars," says Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. "Consuming large amounts of added sugars not only can promote weight gain and other related health problems, but it places an increased workload on the pancreas to produce enough insulin to lower elevated blood sugar levels." (Related: 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are)

"Over time, and along with other lifestyle habits, this can lead to insulin resistance," Gariglio-Clelland continues. "Insulin resistance is when the body doesn't produce enough insulin, or the cells don't respond to insulin like they should. Insulin resistance is the leading cause of type 2 diabetes, which has increased in prevalence in recent decades."

If you love drinking a ton of soda to cool off in the summer, the consequences don't end at insulin resistance.

"Long-term consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is correlated with a higher risk of death, primarily through cardiovascular disease," Garlilio-Clelland continued. "Consuming too much sugar is linked with increased inflammation, a precursor for cardiovascular or heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States."

It feels like every soda brand wants you to indulge with a can or three of their products this season. Figuring out which drinks have the potential to do the most damage feels impossible, but if you can, Gariglio-Clelland recommends slashing one soda from your grocery list no matter what.

"While no soda is considered 'healthy,' one of the most unhealthy sodas is Mountain Dew Code Red," Gariglio-Clelland said. "Per 12 ounce can, it has 46 grams of added sugar, which is well beyond the American Heart Association's recommendation to consume no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day for men and no more than 24 grams per day for women."

Breaking the soda habit can prove tricky, especially when you get a strong craving for something sweet. Don't assume you can't have your soda and drink it too—soda alternatives have popped up at stores nationwide and feature a variety of sparkling flavors to choose from, all while ditching the sugar. Avoid going cold turkey and check out 25 amazing, low-sugar soda alternatives that can hit the spot and keep you moving through the day.

Erich Barganier
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more
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