Fall Inspired Drinks: The Good and the Bad
One of the best things about fall is snuggling under your cozy, warm blanket, with one of your favorite seasonal-inspired beverages between both hands.
These drinks may make you feel all warm and toasty, but do these drinks have some nutritional downfalls? Our dietitian reviews some of your favorite fall-inspired beverages, with tips on how to make them healthy, even if they aren't.
Most people can’t wait for October to arrive because grocery store shelves suddenly become stocked with apple cider.
“Apple cider is definitely better for you than soda, but it still contains a ton of sugar,” says Christy Shatlock, MS/RD and one of the lead dietitians for bistroMD. “Cider also has a few more calories than tea or coffee, so it’s important that you pay attention to serving sizes.”
Even though apple cider does contain more sugar and calories than a glass of tea or coffee, it does have some nutritional benefits.
“Apple cider is made from the whole fruit of an apple,” says Christy. “So, there is some vitamin C, potassium, and a little bit of iron, without adding any other ingredients.”
The sugar added in the apple cider also depends on what apples are used. If you are looking for something healthier, but still want the taste of apple cider, buy an unfiltered organic variety.
When the weather gets downright frightful, there is nothing better than having a serving of hot chocolate to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. This warm and fuzzy feeling, however, may not last so long once you realize how many extra calories and sugar you've just consumed.
“Hot chocolate doesn’t have to be the typical calorie catastrophe some people make it out to be,” says Christy. “There are ways you can make it that will trim extra calories, fat and sugar.”
When at home, use skim milk to make your hot chocolate instead of whole milk. This will cut both calories and fat in half.
Even though hot chocolate contains compounds called polyphenols, which have heart healthy benefits, it’s always important to consume this beverage in moderation.
Recommendation: If you are more of an “instant” person, try Swiss Miss, Sensible Sweets variety of hot chocolate. With only 60 calories per cup, 7 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of fat, it is one of the healthier ways to get your hot chocolate fix.
It you love to drink coffee during this wonderful holiday season, it’s important that you don’t load up on sugar and cream.
“Coffee alone has a number of great health benefits, including several cell-protecting antioxidants,” says Christy. “However, coffee can easily become unhealthy if you drink too much of it, especially if you like to add cream and sugar.”
Recommendation: The next time you go to drink a cup of coffee, try to limit how much sugar and cream you add. If you are going to use half and half, make sure it is fat-free, or use skim milk. Use only about a teaspoon of sugar per cup.