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Are you drinking your calories?

We followed Lena Beal, M.S., RD, LD, a therapeutic dietitian at Piedmont Heart, on one of her popular grocery store tours and got the scoop on the best options in every section of the supermarket. Her tips will help you enjoy your favorite foods while still meeting your health goals.

It’s hard to miss: supermarket shelves lined with sweetened beverages touting numerous health benefits, like added vitamins or vegetable servings. But Beal cautions consumers to read the label before they start sipping.

“Sweetened beverages provide a lot of calories for very little nutrients,” she says.

For example, even if a drink contains 100 percent fruit juice, it is still missing the hunger-satisfying fiber and other essential nutrients that come from a fresh piece of fruit. And because beverages are not filling, it is easy to consumer hundreds of calories a day without curbing your hunger.

High fructose corn syrup is a popular additive in many beverages, which also ramps up the calories with no nutritional benefit.

“One 12-ounce can of soda provides up to 45 grams of sugar,” Beal explains.

And don’t think you’re off the hook because you hydrate with sports beverages.

“Those drinks are specific to athletes because they need to replace electrolytes,” she says.

Unless you are exercising vigorously for hours a day, you’re negating your efforts by consuming unnecessary calories, sugar and even salt in seemingly innocent sports drinks. The bottom line?

“When you’re choosing beverages, control the portion size and don’t forget the most essential beverage: water.”

Learn more nutrition tips from Piedmont experts.

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