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Published July 09, 2010, 12:00 AM

Be careful about the calories you’re drinking

“Do you have trouble lugging in all your soda pop and then finding a place to store it?” the announcer in the commercial asked.

By: Julie Garden-Robinson, INFORUM

“Do you have trouble lugging in all your soda pop and then finding a place to store it?” the announcer in the commercial asked.

“Yeah, right,” my teenage son replied with a note of sarcasm as he and my daughter tuned into the commercial. People in the commercial were dragging cases of pop into their homes, where it was being stacked.

The commercial then described a device that allowed you to make soda pop at home. According to the ad, you’d have soda pop on tap and save money in the process. Happy children were filling their cups.

“You can order regular or diet!” my daughter noted with mock enthusiasm. My kids looked at me and grinned, knowing my take on the item.

We already have water on tap, I thought to myself. Tap water is quite a bargain.

It’s hydrating and saves me lots of money.

Although we are not a pop-free household, we consider pop a treat and not our main beverage, especially during family meals. For many reasons, “milk with meals” is a good recommendation to follow.

In fact, with three growing kids including a teenager, having milk on tap would make more sense in our home than soda pop on tap.

Teenagers are in their prime growing years, so the overconsumption of soda is not good news for their bones or the bones of any person. People who drink more pop have much lower intakes of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients.

At 150 calories per 12-ounce can for regular pop, drinking liquid calories easily can add weight to your frame. If you choose a 20-ounce can of regular pop, you’ll be consuming about 250 calories.

Just 100 extra calories a day, in theory, could add 10 pounds to your frame in a year unless you cut calories elsewhere or get more exercise. On the other hand, swapping high-calorie beverages for water could pare pounds from your body.

Some studies have shown that teens drink twice as much soda as milk, with teen boys guzzling about three cans per day and teen girls about two cans.

With all foods, read the nutrition facts labels on the products. Unfortunately, nutrition labels on larger-sized bottles can be a little confusing unless you do a little math.

For example, a 20-ounce bottle of regular pop contains 2.5 8-ounce servings. The information on the nutrition label is “per serving” not “per container.” Be sure to multiply the number of calories by the number of servings on the container.

Think about your beverage choices this summer. With summer heat, people need to be especially careful about keeping their bodies hydrated. The water in fruits, vegetables and other foods counts toward the daily recommendation.

According to a list provided by the University of Missouri, for the same amount of calories provided by one can of regular pop, you could have one of these hydrating, fiber-rich choices. You may not be able to eat all 150 calories of fruit in one sitting, though.

2 cups of fresh pineapple

3 cups of watermelon

1½ bananas

3 large peaches

2 small oranges

3 kiwis

2 apples

To celebrate July, National Watermelon Month, have 3 cups of watermelon instead of a can of pop or try this tasty beverage recipe courtesy of the Watermelon Promotion Board. A serving of this nutrient-rich beverage has about the same number of calories as a can of pop.


Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade

6 cups watermelon cubes (seeds removed)

¼ cup raspberries

1 cup water

Zc cup sugar

½ cup lemon juice

Place watermelon, raspberries and water in container of electric blender, cover and blend until smooth. Strain through fine mesh strainer into pitcher. Stir in sugar and lemon juice until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until chilled, about one hour.

Makes six servings. Each serving has 140 calories, 36 grams (g) of carbohydrate, 1 g of fiber, 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin A and 35 percent of the daily value for vitamin C.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

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