Soda is packed with sugar, preservatives and artificial colors and has been linked to both obesity and diabetes. Plus, the amount of sugar in just one 12-ounce can of soda—9 teaspoons—is close to the max amount of added sugar you should have in an entire day (on a 1,500-calorie meal plan), per the USDA.
And diet soda isn't any healthier.
"Artificial sweeteners in diet soda have been extremely controversial, and long-term health and safety isn't yet determined," says Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, a dietitian in New York City and co-author of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure.
But how do you quit something that tastes so good? Learn to love seltzer—it's got all the fizz and flavor without added sugar. There are so many great flavors out there these days. Or you can make your own refreshing flavors: squeeze in some lime or lemon, stir in some cukes or strawberries, muddle some mint or basil.
Not sure you can quit the sweet stuff cold turkey? Try making your own homemade soda. When you make your own seltzer-based soda, you have complete control over the ingredients, so you can keep the sugar content in check. Plus, it's easy. "After you've done it once, it becomes even easier," says Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, also a New York-based dietitian and the second half of the "Nutrition Twins."
Here, the Nutrition Twins share four of their favorite homemade soda recipes.
This simple recipe for homemade soda has three parts: fruit concentrate, simple syrup and seltzer water. Store all three components in the fridge separately, then mix one serving at a time.
Use any of the ingredient combos below to create a fruit concentrate. You can use fresh or frozen fruit (thawed). Place all ingredients in a pitcher or large jar and smash with a wooden spoon to release their juices. Stir in 1 cup water. Let the mixture infuse in the fridge overnight, then strain. The concentrate will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar (or honey) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until completely dissolved. Let cool. Store the syrup in the fridge for up to 1 week and use just a teaspoon at a time. A teaspoon of simple syrup has 15 calories and 4 grams of carbs.
To make one serving of soda (1 cup), combine ¼ cup fruit concentrate with 1 tsp. simple syrup and ¾ cup seltzer water. Try using less simple syrup or omitting it altogether to cut down on added sugar and carbs.