Put down the sugar packets.
Tea might be the ultimate wellness drink, with zero calories, antioxidant properties, and the natural calming effect of a warm mug.
But it’s surprisingly easy to turn that innocent cuppa tea into a calorie bomb. Here are five ways to ditch the sugar and make your tea a little healthier.
Shun the sugar. Each sugar packet adds 15-20 calories to your drink. If that doesn’t seem like much to you, remember that the average American consumes 270 calories of added sugars every day, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, so each attempt to cut down on your love for sweetness can help. (Here are 8 foods with more sugar than a glazed donut.)
Flavor naturally. Instead of sweetening with sugar, try boosting the flavor of your tea with a lemon or orange wedge, a cinnamon stick, a slice of ginger root, or some fresh herbs, like mint.
Add citrus for vitamin C. A squeeze of lemon juice can have major benefits: the high dose of vitamin C increases iron absorption. Iron deficiency, including anemia, is one of the most common nutrition problems in the United States, so having adequate amounts of vitamin C helps the body absorb as much iron from foods as possible. (Here are the iron-rich foods to have in your diet.)
Add skim, low-fat, or soy milk. Adding a creamy element is another way to flavor your tea without needing sugar. It adds some calories, but it also counts toward your recommended three servings of dairy a day and increases your intake of calcium, protein, and vitamin D. Just skip the heavy creams and opt for low-fat options; they are lower in calories and have more calcium per tablespoon. (Here are 10 ways to add more dairy to your diet.)
Skip powdered mixes and make your own chai. It’s convenient to stir in a few spoonfuls of chai mix to hot water, but convenience comes at a cost: sugar. One instant mix of chai has around 13 grams of sugar, making it equivalent to adding three packets of sugar. If you love that spicy chai flavor, you can DIY. Find chai tea bags, brew in a mug, and add a little milk (see #4).
Duyff RL. Complete food & nutrition guide. 5th ed. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2017.
Sugar in the Raw, turbinado cane sugar. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2016. (Accessed on October 4, 2017 at https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/99410?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=raw+sugar&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=.)
Sweetened instant premix masala chai. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2016. (Accessed on October 4, 2017 at https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/70400?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=chai+mix&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=.)