One of the easiest ways to improve your diet is to cut out sugary drinks. In place of those sugary drinks, consider infused beverages, which you can make by adding a few fresh ingredients to water or iced tea. This way you’re adding refreshing flavors, natural sugars (in things like citrus fruits or berries) and antioxidants without the added sugar.
Sugar-sweetened beverages have little to no benefit. They contain empty calories; this means they provide a ton of calories without having any beneficial nutrients. For example, a 12-ounce can of cola contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Drinking two cans a week can lead to an average 3.5 pound annual weight gain (based on 3,500 calories = 1 pound).
How to Make Infused Beverages
Step 1: Choose Your Base
- Plain water
- Sparking water or club soda
- Mineral water flavored with lime, lemon or other natural flavors
- Iced tea — green, white, oolong and rooibos have large amounts of antioxidants
Step 2: Add Fruits and Veggies
- Citrus: Lime, lemon, orange, grapefruit all make great additions. They have vitamin C, which will also infuse into the water.
- Berries: Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries all have natural sugars and antioxidants. Tip: Use frozen berry mixtures to save time and money.
- Fruits: Mango, pineapple, watermelon and peaches all work well in infused beverages. The trick is to choose soft, juicy fruits (like melons) as opposed to firm fruits (like apples).
- Veggies: Cucumber and ginger are two tasty options for infused water.
Step 3: Herbs and More
These herbs and spices all have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties:
- Cinnamon sticks
Step 4: Muddle, Marinate and Enjoy
You can store these waters in closed jars in the refrigerator overnight to allow them to marinate.
Some of Our Favorite Combinations
- Cucumber and mint sparkling water
- Citrus combination water (lemon, grapefruit, lime and orange)
- Strawberry and basil iced tea
- Peach and mint sparkling water
- Orange, lime and rosemary water
This post was originally published on March 26, 2014. It was last updated May 23, 2017.