The 24 Worst Drinks for Your Health (2023)

What you drink is just as important as what you eat when it comes to taking care of your body. "Staying hydrated each day is essential to our health and well-being," says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist in Miami, Florida.

Besides avoiding dehydration, drinking enough fluids helps your body regulate its body temperature, improve sleep quality and mood, and also aids your body's delivery of nutrients to cells (keeping you healthy), according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

But not all drinks are good for your health.

"Every drink may have a different composition of ingredients," adds Ehsani. "Some drinks may be loaded with tons of added sugar, sodium, caffeine, or alcohol, which won't support our health and can increase our risk for chronic conditions or diseases."

Based on their high levels of unhealthy ingredients, such as added sugar and saturated fat, these are 24 of the worst drinks for your health, according to registered dietitians and scientific studies. Read on, and for more, don't missIs Carbonated Water Bad for You? 8 Side Effects of Drinking It.


Regular Soda

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There's no denying a can of cold soda is a refreshing (and yummy) beverage to sip on, but it's one of the unhealthiest drinks you can choose.

"A 12-oz can of soda contains 155 calories, and 147 of those calories come from sugar, which is equal to almost 9 teaspoons of sugar," says Ehasni. "Drinking soda is bad for your dental health, and it is also linked to increased risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, gout, and even premature death. There's really nothing healthy at all about soda."


Cranberry Juice Cocktail

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If you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you may start reaching for cranberry juice; however, this ruby red beverage may be one of the worst drinks for your health if you consume it regularly.

"There's evidence that cranberry is good for urinary health, but many cranberry cocktails have a high amount of added sugar, equal to other fruit drinks," says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, integrative registered dietitian nutritionist in Seattle, Washington. "Sugar can actually be an irritant to the bladder. Cranberries are very tart, so if you drink the real thing–100% juice without sweetener–it's a bit of an acquired taste."


Fruit Juice

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While juice may be made from fruit, that doesn't mean it's healthy.

"Juicing strips the fiber from produce, so it is less satiating. Juices [that aren't marked as '100% juice'] are also often packed with added sugar," says Anya Rosen, MS, RD, LD, IFNCP, CPT, registered dietitian and founder of Birchwell Clinic. "Make sure to choose juices that are made with only vegetables, and pair it with fat and protein to keep blood sugar stable."


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Winding down after a long day with a glass of wine or pint of beer isn't doing your body any good.

"Drinking alcohol regularly over time can drastically worsen your health," says Ehsani. "Alcohol consumption affects the entire body, its systems such as the immune system, and it can damage internal organs including the brain, heart, and liver. Furthermore, it can greatly increase one's risk for developing serious health conditions, diseases, and cancer."

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Flavored Dairy Milks

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Dairy milk can be a healthy choice, but if you're a fan of chocolate or strawberry milk, it can be one of the unhealthiest drinks for your body.

"Milk on its own has been getting a bad rap lately, but it's actually quite rich in nutrients, contains protein, bone-building calcium, and vitamin D," says Ehsani. "However, when flavors are added to it, such as strawberry or chocolate, that added sugar turns your nutritious glass of milk into an unhealthy beverage higher in both total sugars and calories, which can increase one's risk for developing obesity and becoming overweight."

RELATED:Organic vs. Regular Milk: Which One Is Better For You?



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Tart and refreshing, most lemonades have tons of sugar—upwards of 25 grams per cup—to cut the sour punch. Unfortunately, sugar-sweetened drinks like lemonade have been linked to insulin resistance and blood sugar spikes.


Sweetened Coffee Beverages

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Many people love their mocha lattes and Frappuccinos (or any sweetened coffee blended drinks), but these pack tons of added sugar and unhealthy fats.

"They typically have flavored syrups such as caramel, then a few pumps of a type of flavor (that is loaded with sugar), then toppings that may include whipping cream, caramel or a chocolate drizzle," says Ehsani. "If made with whole milk, it adds saturated fat, of which a high intake of is bad for heart health. One of these drinks may even contain the same amount of calories as a meal. For example, one Starbucks Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino contains 470 calories, 60 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of fat. So, it's best you avoid these, and choose unflavored, unsweetened coffee drinks in their place."


Diet Soda

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Just because you choose diet soda over regular soda, doesn't mean it's any healthier. One study of people who drink diet soda found that it increased their risk of cardiovascular-related health issues.


Sweet Tea

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This southern staple has the word "sweet" in its name, which is a dead giveaway that it's packed with sugar with some bottled varieties containing upwards of 48 grams of sugar per bottle. For perspective, the FDA recommends capping your daily intake of added sugars at 50 grams. Unfortunately, the consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.


Orange Drinks

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Don't get orange drinks confused with regular orange juice; they are different.

"When you look at the label, an orange-flavored drink often consists of water, added sugar/syrup, and artificial flavors that make it look and taste like citrus–while orange juice is simply squeezed oranges, orange drinks generally contain no actual fruit juice," says Hultin. "While you can get vitamin C from these drinks, there's little other nutritional value and in its simplest form, these are just sugar-sweetened beverages which studies link to many negative health outcomes when consumed regularly."


Ginger Beer

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Sure, ginger beer doesn't actually contain any alcohol–but it still contains tons of sugar. In fact, one study found that ginger beer contained the highest amount of sugar per serving—38.5g of sugar—more than any other soda.


Vitamin-Enhanced Waters

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While they may tout extra nutrients, the benefits of vitamin waters may be outweighed by all the added sugar, making them one of the unhealthiest drinks you can sip on.

"These are especially tricky," notes Ehsani. "Someone may have the best intentions and be trying to choose healthy options for themselves and their family and be fooled by the vitamins on the label. Although there are vitamins in this bottle of enhanced water, it also comes with the addition of 32 grams of added sugars, which is doing your body more harm than good. Added sugar consumption is linked to weakened immune health as well."


Tonic Water

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Tonic water is a great mixer for alcoholic drinks (hello, gin and tonic!) But alone, tonic water is also loaded with sugar to make it less bitter due to the quinine. One 12-ounce serving of tonic water contains 32 grams of sugar.


Bottled Smoothies

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Bottled smoothies can be deceptively one of the unhealthiest drinks. Even though many are fruit-based, when it comes to bottled smoothies, they also have tons of sugar. One study found that bottled smoothies actually contained more sugar than a can of soda.

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"Read the labels carefully because not all bottled smoothies are created equal. Look for a variety that includes veggies and has minimal added sugar rather than one that is based solely on fruit or one that contains added sugars," says Hultin.

RELATED:The 7 Best Bottled Smoothies You Can Buy, According to Dietitians


Bubble Tea

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While bubble tea, or boba, can be a fun beverage to drink because of the many flavors available and the tapioca pearls at the bottom, be cautious about the high sugar content that is generally found in the recipe.

"Boba actually counts as a sugar-sweetened beverage and studies have shown that a 16-oz boba can exceed the upper limit of added sugars for an entire day. A simple way to continue to enjoy your boba is to request no added sugar (ideally) or a 1/4 or 1/2 of the sweetener to help reduce your added sugar intake," says Hultin.


Fruit Punch

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Sweet and tart, fruit punch tends to be low on fruit and high on sugar. And one study has linked sugar-sweetened drinks (including fruit punch) to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.



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Milkshakes qualify as both a drink and dessert, and it's not just the sugar that makes them one of the worst drinks. These blended beverages are high in saturated fat, which is a nutrient that research links to an increased risk of coronary heart disease.


Energy Drinks

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While energy drinks provide a boost of energy thanks to caffeine, they may negatively impact your digestion. One study linked energy drinks to gastritis (damage to the lining of the stomach).

RELATED:12 Dangerous Side Effects of Energy Drinks, According to Science


Flavored Coconut Water

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If you prefer flavored coconut waters, they are likely sweetened. And one bottle of sweetened coconut water has nearly 32 grams of sugar. Compare that to one serving of unsweetened coconut water, which contains 8 grams of sugar.

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Blended Tropical Drinks

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Frozen drinks like pina coladas and daiquiris are a staple at the beach and on vacation, but they are some of the unhealthiest drinks for your body.

"Tropical drinks may have a place while on a vacation here and there, but it's important to know how they could affect your health, especially if they're your go-to drink or you consume them often," says Hultin. "These sweet blended alcoholic drinks (you can also order them non-alcoholic), have a high amount of added sugar but have the challenge as well of being high in saturated fat because of the coconut or whipped cream used in the drink."


Light or Low-Fat Eggnog

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Eggnog on its own is not a low-calorie or low-sugar drink. But even if you think a "light" or "low-fat" version of eggnog is healthier, you're mistaken. To make up for less fat, manufacturers add more sugar to egg nog. Recent studies show thatpeople who drink lots of added sugar are at a higher risk of fatty liver disease.


Sports Drinks

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While electrolytes and sodium are crucial elements of sports drinks for athletes, they're one of the unhealthiest drinks for your body because they also contain serious amounts of sugar. Studies associate sugar-sweetened drinks, like sports drinks, with an increased risk of gout.


Bottled Water

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Plain water is super healthy, but if you choose bottled water, you may be putting yourself at risk of drinking dangerous chemicals. One study by Consumer Reports of over 40 popular bottled water brands found that certain brands of both still and sparkling bottled waters contained toxic PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances).


High-Sodium Tomato Juice

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Tomatoes themselves are certainly healthy for you, but if you take a look at the nutrition label on a can of tomato juice, you'll notice they are loaded with added salt. Too much salt can lead to an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. If you want to reap the antioxidant benefits of tomato juice, make sure to look for low-sodium varieties.

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The 24 Worst Drinks for Your Health? ›

Sugar-sweetened drinks (such as soda, pop, soft drinks, flavored milks, sports drinks, flavored water with sugar, and juice drinks) contain added sugars. These drinks are different than 100% juice. Children younger than 24 months old should avoid added sugars.

What is the most unhealthy drink? ›

10 Unhealthy Drinks You Should Be Avoiding
  • Soft Drink. Soft drink can increase the risk of diabetes, obesity, and other health issues. ...
  • Energy drinks. Energy drinks are usually high in caffeine and sugar. ...
  • Sweetened coffee drinks. ...
  • Sweetened tea. ...
  • Fruit Juices. ...
  • Sports drinks. ...
  • Alcoholic beverages. ...
  • Flavoured water.
Jan 28, 2023

What three drinks should you avoid? ›

Sugar-sweetened drinks (such as soda, pop, soft drinks, flavored milks, sports drinks, flavored water with sugar, and juice drinks) contain added sugars. These drinks are different than 100% juice. Children younger than 24 months old should avoid added sugars.

What is the healthiest drink to drink all day? ›

Water is the best choice for quenching your thirst. Coffee and tea, without added sweeteners, are healthy choices, too. Some beverages should be limited or consumed in moderation, including fruit juice, milk, and those made with low-calorie sweeteners, like diet drinks.

What are the top 5 healthiest drinks? ›

Top Healthiest Drinks That You Should Try
  1. Smoothies. Most of the time, many people perceive smoothies as a cool way to eat fruits outside of their solid shapes. ...
  2. Green Tea. ...
  3. Milk. ...
  4. Sparkling Water. ...
  5. Coffee. ...
  6. Green Juice. ...
  7. Fruit Juice.
Mar 5, 2021

Which drink is best for heart? ›

Water is the drink of choice for heart health. If you're thirsty, drink water. When the weather is warm or we're exercising, our bodies need more water than usual. Unflavoured milk, tea and coffee can be enjoyed in moderation.

What drinks should I not drink? ›

10 Drinks You Should Only Consume in Moderation (or Avoid...
  • Fruit juice.
  • Sugary coffee drinks.
  • Soda.
  • Sweetened nut milks.
  • Premixed alcoholic beverages.
  • Pre-made protein shakes.
  • Sports drinks.
  • Pre-bottled smoothies.
May 25, 2021

What is the healthiest drink besides water? ›

8 healthy drinks besides water
  1. Green tea. ...
  2. Mint tea. ...
  3. Black coffee. ...
  4. Fat-free milk. ...
  5. Soy milk or almond milk. ...
  6. Hot chocolate. ...
  7. Orange or lemon juice. ...
  8. Homemade smoothies.
Jun 22, 2021

What should you not drink a lot of? ›

Even caffeinated drinks — such as coffee and soda — can contribute to your daily water intake. But go easy on sugar-sweetened drinks. Regular soda, energy or sports drinks, and other sweet drinks usually contain a lot of added sugar, which may provide more calories than needed.

Which alcoholic drink is the least harmful? ›

Red wine, whiskey, tequila, and hard kombucha are healthier options than beer and sugary drinks. The CDC recommends you limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day if you're male and 1 if you're female.

What can I drink all day instead of water? ›

View All
  • 1 of 6 Juice Spritzer.
  • 2 of 6 Green Tea.
  • 3 of 6 Coffee.
  • 4 of 6 Milk.
  • 5 of 6 Iced Fruit Tea.
  • 6 of 6 Vegetable Juice.
Apr 28, 2015

What is the best drink every morning? ›

10 Healthy Morning Drinks to Get Your Day Started
  • Honey and cinnamon drink. Have a glass of honey and cinnamon drink first thing in the morning. ...
  • Lemon Juice. ...
  • Cinnamon Green Tea. ...
  • Coconut water. ...
  • Aloe juice. ...
  • Pomegranate tea. ...
  • Fruit smoothies. ...
  • Green tea lassi.
Oct 29, 2021

What is okay to drink everyday? ›

Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults generally means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.

Is Gatorade good for you? ›

But Gatorade contains high levels of sugar and food dyes, which may increase people's risk of certain health conditions, including weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Gatorade and other sports drinks are not inherently healthy or healthier than other beverages.

Is Gatorade better than water? ›

While Gatorade can help you stay hydrated, it's best to only drink it when needed. For people who aren't exercising for at least one hour, five days per week, water is the best bet for staying hydrated. Electrolytes coming from natural sources without added sugars and dyes are recommended.

What 3 foods cardiologists say to avoid? ›

Top Foods Cardiologists Want You to Avoid for a Healthy Heart
  • Red meat (including “the other white meat”) ...
  • Bacon, hot dogs, and other processed meats. ...
  • French fries and other fried foods. ...
  • Sugary drinks and cereals. ...
  • Potato chips and snack foods. ...
  • Full-fat dairy products. ...
  • Baked goods, cookies, and pastries.
Feb 1, 2023

Which fruit is best for heart? ›

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are jam-packed with important nutrients that play a central role in heart health. Berries are also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease ( 9 ).

What can I drink to slow down my heart? ›

Staying hydrated

A 2017 study found that a 335-milliliter drink of water could reduce resting heart rate over a 30-minute period. This decline continued for another 30 minutes. Drinking plenty of beverages throughout the day could lower a person's heart rate.

What drinks should you avoid at night? ›

Five drinks to avoid before going to bed
  • Alcohol. It's no secret that alcohol makes you feel drowsy after a few drinks. ...
  • Coffee. The caffeine in coffee can help wake you up in the morning. ...
  • Energy Drinks. For obvious reasons, there is no use in having an energy drink before bed. ...
  • Soda. ...
  • Water.
Jul 30, 2019

What is the safest thing to drink? ›

Best Choice: Water

Water is essential for your body. It prevents dehydration, constipation, and kidney stones. Plus, with no calories, it's the best beverage for your waistline. If you add 1 to 3 cups of water a day to your diet, you could end up taking in less fat, salt, sugar, and up to 200 fewer calories per day.

What can I replace alcohol with to sleep? ›

Alternatives to Alcohol for Sleep
  • Tea or Sparkling Water. The oral fixation of sipping a liquid can be an issue for frequent drinkers. ...
  • Take a Shower or Bath. Hot water over the skin can open your pores and stimulate the senses. ...
  • Music, TV, and Books. ...
  • Take a Walk. ...
  • Have a Chat.
Jun 4, 2018

How much water should elderly drink a day? ›

As a general rule, you should take one-third of your body weight and drink that number of ounces in fluids. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim to drink 50 ounces of water each day.

What is a good replacement for soda? ›

Good alternatives to soda that have soda-like qualities without the adverse effects include:
  • Kombucha.
  • Iced tea or hot tea.
  • Sparkling water.
  • Sparkling lemonade.
  • Freshly squeezed lemonade.
  • Maple water.
  • Water infusions with fruit and herbs for flavor.
  • Mineral water.
Nov 2, 2021

Is Sprite good for you? ›

Sprite is a caffeine-free lemon-lime soda. Yet, its high added sugar content can provide a quick boost of energy. That said, Sprite and other sugary sodas should be limited in a healthy diet.

What are signs of not drinking enough water? ›

Symptoms of dehydration in adults and children include:
  • feeling thirsty.
  • dark yellow, strong-smelling pee.
  • peeing less often than usual.
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • feeling tired.
  • a dry mouth, lips and tongue.
  • sunken eyes.

What happens when you start drinking enough water? ›

You'll feel less hungry and may even lose weight. You'll probably experience more comfortable digestion (less heartburn). Bowel movements might be easier and more regular. Your teeth and gums will be healthier and more resilient.

Which alcohol is hardest on liver? ›

Myth 3: Drinking hard liquor is worse than drinking beer or wine. Contrary to popular belief, the type of alcohol you drink doesn't make a difference – what matters is how much you drink. "The safe limit is fixed at 14 units a week," explains Dr Lui. "Below this limit, alcoholic fatty liver is less likely to occur.

What alcohol is easiest on liver? ›

Take a look at this list of the least-damaging alcoholic drinks from Legends at White Oak to help you drink consciously.
  • Red Wine. ...
  • Light Beer. ...
  • Tequila. ...
  • Gin & Rum & Vodka & Whiskey.
Mar 7, 2021

What alcohol is safest for kidneys? ›

4 Considerations When Drinking Alcohol with Chronic Kidney Disease. Experts consider one drink of alcohol to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounce of hard liquor. Consuming an occasional glass or 2 of an alcoholic beverage usually won't cause harmful effects to individuals with full kidney function.

What are 3 warning signs of dehydration? ›

Some of the early warning signs of dehydration include:
  • feeling thirsty and lightheaded.
  • a dry mouth.
  • tiredness.
  • having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine.
  • passing urine less often than usual.
Feb 13, 2023

What hydrates better than water? ›

Research shows that milk is one of the best beverages for hydration, even better than water or sports drinks. Researchers credit milk's natural electrolytes, carbohydrates, and protein for its effectiveness.

What drink hydrates you the fastest? ›

The researchers found that while water – both still and sparkling –does a pretty good job of quickly hydrating the body, beverages with a little bit of sugar, fat or protein do an even better job of keeping us hydrated for longer.

What is the first thing you should eat in the morning? ›

The bottom line

While breakfast options abound, the best choices are high in fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Many nutritious, healthy foods and drinks are also easy to prepare in the morning. These include fruit, whole grain toast, eggs, green tea, coffee, and protein shakes.

What is the healthiest drink first thing in the morning? ›

1. Make over your morning glass of water. The benefits of drinking water (at least 2 cups) first thing in the morning are plenty. Besides flushing out toxins and providing some much-needed hydration, this amount of water can increase your metabolism .

What happens to your body when you stop drinking? ›

If you stop drinking completely, one of the first things you notice should be improved energy levels, better sleep and finding it easier to wake up in the morning. Regular drinking can affect the quality of your sleep making you feel tired and sluggish during the day.

What are the first signs of kidney damage from alcohol? ›

What are the first signs of kidney damage from alcohol?
  • fatigue.
  • swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet due to fluid retention.
  • loss of appetite.
  • change in urine.
  • kidney pain.
Apr 26, 2022

What is considered a heavy drinker? ›

What do you mean by heavy drinking? For men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week.

What is the best way to hydrate yourself? ›

For most people, drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated and rehydrate. Other options include coffee, tea, milk, fruits, vegetables, and oral hydration solutions. Don't hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider if you're concerned about your or someone else's hydration status.

What is the healthiest Gatorade? ›

What is Gatorade Fit? Gatorade Fit is the newest electrolyte beverage from Gatorade and is formulated for those seeking healthy, real hydration with no added sugar.

Is lemonade or coke better for you? ›

Fruit-flavoured fizzy drinks like lemonade and fizzy orange are slightly better choices than cola, but not ideal as your regular drink. The combination of sugar and acid can damage your teeth, and over time, excess calories from a high-sugar diet can lead to weight gain.

What is the most dehydrating drink? ›

In general, drinks with a higher alcohol content – think spirits such as vodka, gin, whiskey, and rum – are higher on the spectrum of alcohol content, making them more dehydrating per ounce than alcohols such as beer and wine.

What hydrates better than Gatorade? ›

Pedialyte products generally provide fewer calories and sugar and a significantly higher electrolyte content than Gatorade. Pedialyte may help people of all ages recover from viruses, while Gatorade is specifically designed for adult athletes.

Which is better Gatorade Zero or water? ›

Choose Both!

Water may not provide the carbs and electrolytes than Gatorade does, but it also has zero calories. If you are only doing a low-intensity workout, water is the better choice. It's the more high-intensity workouts that require the extra perks of Gatorade.

What is the healthiest drink in the world? ›

Green tea is generally considered the healthiest beverage globally due to its high levels of nutrients and antioxidants that fight off diseases and keep your organ functioning at its optimum level.

What is an unhealthy drink? ›

Healthy beverages: milk, orange juice, unsweetened tea, unsweetened coffee, diet soda. b. Unhealthy beverages: regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweetened tea, flavored water. c. Specialty coffees: sweetened canned coffees, flavored iced coffee, flavored lattes, etc.

What's worse soda or alcohol? ›

In fact, a standard can (330 ml) of cola contains as much as 7 teaspoons of sugar! So in weighty matters (both literally and metaphorically), alcohol emerges as a clear winner. There's not much to choose between alcohol and soft drinks when it comes to nutritional benefits. Neither drink has any dietary value.

What are 5 reasons you shouldn't drink? ›

High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems. Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum. Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick. Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.

Which is worse drinking or smoking? ›

While drinking can be a threat to your health, smoking is certainly worse. Unlike alcohol at low or moderate levels, there is no benefit to tobacco use at any level. When you smoke, you inhale various chemicals that can injure cells, causing both cancer and artery damage (e.g. heart attacks and strokes).

Is Coke Zero bad for you? ›

Artificially sweetened beverages like Coke Zero have been linked to other health issues, including: Increased risk of heart disease. An observational study found a link between artificially sweetened beverages and an increased risk of heart disease among women with no prior history of heart disease ( 19 ).

What alcohol is worse for you? ›

"Hard liquor contains more alcohol than beer or wine, making it more dangerous for your liver," continues Coleman. "A single shot of 80-proof hard liquor contains about 15 grams of alcohol and most shots contain even more alcohol than this." Another alcoholic beverage also takes a considerable toll on your liver.


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