Are you tired of feeling limited in your beverage choices because of diabetes or heart disease? Fear not, I’ve compiled a list of low sugar beverages that are not only delicious but also safe for those with these conditions. Say goodbye to boring water and hello to refreshing drinks that won’t spike your blood sugar or put a strain on your heart. Let’s dive into my top picks for guilt-free sipping!
Shocking Fact: Sugary drinks or sugar-sweetened beverages are among the leading sources of added sugar in the American diet (1).
Table of Contents
What are Low Sugar Beverages?
Low-sugar beverages are typically formulated to provide a refreshing and hydrating drink without contributing a significant amount of calories and added sugar to the diet. These include water, seltzer, unsweetened tea, and coffee.
Most juices and sodas are not low-sugar beverages. This is because they contain high amounts of sugar which we need to mindful of. Diet sodas may also have a small amount of sugar, but are still generally not considered low-sugar beverages.
Benefits of Low Sugar Beverages for Diabetes and Heart Disease
There are plenty of reasons to love low-sugar beverages. Specially if you are dealing with diabetes or heart disease. Some of these benefits include:
- helping to manage blood sugar levels
- assisting with weight management
- reducing the risk of complications
- providing hydration without added sugars
Help Manage Blood Sugar Levels
For people with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is crucial to managing the condition. Drinking sugary beverages can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, which can be difficult to manage. Choosing low sugar beverages can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent spikes.
Uncontrolled blood sugars can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease.
Assist With Weight Management
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. By replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with low sugar beverages, you can help reduce overall added sugar and calorie intake. This can help manage blood sugar levels and support weight loss.
Reduce the Risk of Complications
Diabetes increases the risk of complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage. And heart disease increases the risk of complications like heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. If large amounts of sugary beverages are consumed, this can exacerbate these risks. On the other hand, choosing low sugar beverages can help reduce the risk of complications.
And since low sugar beverages don’t contain any artificial sweeteners, which have controversy surrounding their use, they’re a healthier option overall.
Provide Hydration Without Added Sugars
And finally, staying hydrated is important for overall health, including heart health. Choosing low sugar drinks like water or unsweetened tea can provide hydration without added sugar, which can help prevent blood sugar spikes and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
So, whether you’re looking for a refreshing beverage to enjoy during the hot summer months or trying to find ways to improve your health, low sugar options should without a doubt be on your radar.
Types of Low Sugar Beverages
Many types of low sugar beverages are perfect for those with diabetes and heart disease. Some of these include:
Water: This is the best option for those with diabetes and heart disease. It is calorie-free and sugar-free, and helps to keep you hydrated without adding unnecessary calories or added sugars.
Unsweetened Tea or Coffee: Teas and coffees can be enjoyed hot or iced. Be sure to avoid sweetened versions or those with syrups. Unsweetened options are low in calories and add a caffeine boost. Though, if you are sensitive to caffeine or have been told to avoid caffeine, there are decaffeinated tea and coffee options available.
Sparkling Water: This options is great if you want a smidge of flavor and some fizz without sugar. Again, just be sure to check the labels to ensure there is no added sugars, sweeteners, etc.
Juice: Fruit juice is a okay on occasion for those with diabetes and heart disease because it is high in vitamins and minerals. The high sugar content in juice is what makes it a “sometimes” option, so be careful how much you drink!
Kombucha: This is a fermented tea that naturally contains small amounts of alcohol. You may want to avoid this if you are pregnant, have sensitivities or allergies to alcohol, or have certain religious beliefs. Kombucha is not calorie-free and some varieties contain added sugars and juices.
Sports Drinks: Certain sports drinks are formulated with lower amounts of carbohydrates (sugar) and calories. This can be helpful for athletes or individuals who need to replenish fluids and electrolytes during and after exercise without spiking their blood sugar levels.
Milk: Milk can be drunk in moderation for those with diabetes and heart disease as well. It has natural sugar in the form of lactose, which is a carbohydrate and will raise blood sugars. However, milk still contains beneficial nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, which can help to improve bone health.
I realize that dairy milk intake is controversial, with some reports of milk intake leading to increased risk of chronic inflammation and heart disease. The good news is that many studies show either no such relationship or even decreased risk of heart disease with the consumption of dairy; specifically fermented milk products, like kefir (2, 3, 4).
17+ Low Sugar Beverages
- Coconut Water
- Sparkling Waters
- Fruit-Infused Waters
- Flavored Drink Mixes (available in packet or liquid form)
- Unsweetened Iced Teas
- Herbal Teas
- Decaffeinated Teas
- Cherry Juice (in moderation)
- Pomegranate Juice (in moderation)
- Lemonades (low sugar options)
- Kombucha (look for ones with minimal “added sugars”)
- Low-Sugar Sports Drinks
- Unsweetened Almond Milk
- Unsweetened Soy Milk
- Smoothies (made without sweeteners)
Tips for Choosing the Right Low Sugar Beverage for You
When it comes to choosing a low sugar drinks, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are a few tips to help you choose the right drink for you:
- Know your goals. Are you looking to cut down on overall sugar intake, or are you trying to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to choose a drink that has a low glycemic index.
- Consider your other health needs. If you have diabetes or heart disease, you’ll need to be extra careful about the ingredients in your drink. Make sure to check labels carefully and avoid anything with artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
- Think about taste. Just because a beverage is low in sugar doesn’t mean it has to taste bad! There are plenty of delicious options out there, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you find something you love.
- Pay attention to portion sizes. Even if a beverage is low in sugar, drinking too much of it can still lead to weight gain or other health problems. Be mindful of how much you’re consuming and stick to moderation when possible.
Tips for Making Low Sugar Beverages at Home
If you’re looking to cut down on your sugar intake, there are some easy ways to make low sugar beverages at home. Here are a few tips:
- Use unsweetened almond milk or soy milk instead of dairy milk.
- Add a little bit of fruit juice for flavor, but avoid adding too much as it can add unwanted sugar.
- Use Stevia or another natural sweetener instead of sugar.
- If you’re making coffee or tea, skip the added syrups and flavored creams which are often high in sugar and/or saturated fat.
- Get creative with your smoothies! Use unsweetened yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit, and a little bit of honey for sweetness.
DIY Low Sugar Beverages
There are many easy low calorie beverages and low sugar beverages that you can make yourself at home. Here are some simple recipes to get you started:
- Infused water: Add fresh fruits or herbs to a pitcher of water for a refreshing and flavorful low-calorie drink. For example, you could try cucumber and mint, lemon and ginger, or strawberry and basil.
- Green tea: Brew a cup of green tea and enjoy it hot or cold. You can add a squeeze of lemon or a dash of honey if desired.
- Low Sugar Lemonade: Add lemon juice to a glass and use a small amount of sweetener (such as honey, maple syrup, or stevia). Alternatively, you can dilute the lemonade with water or seltzer to reduce the overall calorie and sugar content.
- Iced coffee: Brew a cup of coffee and let it cool. Pour over ice and add a splash of low fat milk of choice.
- Sparkling water with fruit: Add sliced fruit or berries to a glass of sparkling water for a fizzy and flavorful low calorie drink. Try it with raspberries, lime, or cucumber.
- Smoothies: Blend a mix of frozen fruits, low fat milk or yogurt, and ice for a delicious and filling low added sugar drink. Try combinations like banana and peanut butter, strawberry and banana, or mixed berries with spinach.
- Vegetable juice: Juice your favorite vegetables for a nutrient-packed low-sugar drink. Carrots, kale, and beets are great options for homemade juices.
These are just a few examples of easy low sugar drinks you can make at home. With a little creativity, you can come up with your own delicious combinations that fit your taste preferences and dietary needs.
There are so many different low sugar beverage choices for those with diabetes and heart disease.
Low sugar drinks can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, though it’s important to consume these drinks in moderation and to prioritize hydration through water consumption. Water is always the absolute best option and is all our body really needs. But, a little flavor and variety now and then does keeps life interesting and enjoyable.
For more information, you can consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian, who can provide personalized recommendations based on your individual needs and health goals. Additionally, a healthy diet and lifestyle should include a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, and whole grains, in addition to low sugar beverages.
I hope you enjoyed these low sugar drink ideas and give some a try. Happy sipping!
Related articles you might enjoy:
- Is Kombucha Gluten Free? by Angela Lago, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
- Wellness Drinks: A Complete Guide by Kathryn Piper, RDN, LD, NBC-HWC
- The Refreshing Benefits of Infused Water with Fruit by Kathryn Piper, RDN, LD, NBC-HWC
- Will Cutting Out Soda Make You Lose Weight? by Su-Nui Escobar, DCN, RDN, FAND
Kiran Campbell is a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with 13 years of experience. She has a degree in psychology as well as dietetics. She is also a proud member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ and its Cardiovascular Health and Well-being Dietetics Practice Group among others. Kiran proudly presents and promotes the most up-to-date, science-based nutrition information on all things heart-related. She aims to serve not only individuals with heart disease, but also those wanting to protect against it. Learn more about Kiran by visiting her About Page.