Green Living

Shocking Truth About What’s in Your Drinks

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What’s lurking in your drinks? From deadly aspartame to heaps of calories, what you drink may be affecting your health and tripping up your weight-loss efforts. We take a look at what’s really going on with your favorite beverages.


Strawberry flavored drinks from Starbucks contain a red coloring which is manufactured from cochineal which gets its red color from crushed parasitic beetles.

Many of the drinks on the Starbucks menu are packed with calories. Take the Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Whipped Cream (venti, 20 fl oz). This puppy packs 660 calories which is more than two slices of deep dish pizza or a burger and fries.

Even a regular peppermint hot chocolate contains 360 calories and a double chocolaty chip frappuccino blended crème will set you back 500 calories while smoothies average about 300 calories each. Of course there are many calorie-free and low calorie options too. See the full menu here.

Other baristas will have equally fattening options on their menus, so stick to plain coffees and teas to steer clear of the calorie crunch.

Diet Sodas

Sugar has been replaced in these drinks with artificial chemicals such as aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame-k, cyclamate or sucralose. While it is true that diet sodas contain significantly fewer calories than regular sodas, they have been linked to metabolic syndrome which is a group of factors responsible for strokes, diabetes and heart disease.

A study by the journal “Circulation” in 2008 followed 9,514 people who drank diet soda for 9 years. These people had a 34% greater risk of developing the metabolic syndrome than those who drank regular soda.

Depression has also been associated with diet sodas. A recent study followed 263,925 adults aged 51-70 for ten years and found that the diet soda drinkers were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

In Denmark, a study of 59,334 pregnant women who drank 1 serving of diet drinks a day found that they had a 38% higher risk of preterm delivery. If they drank 4 servings a day, that risk increased by 78%.

Regular Sodas

Brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, is a toxic flame retardant that was originally used to prevent plastics from catching on fire. But now many soda companies use it in their drinks, including Mountain Dew, Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, and some Powerade flavors.

Vitamin Water

Vitamin water gives the impression that it’s a healthy choice for those who wish to hydrate responsibly. While vitamin water is in fact fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, it also contains 13g of sugar per serving. Since each bottle contains 2.5 servings, that adds up to 125 calories and 33g of sugar in every bottle. That’s more calories than a 12 ounce serving of Coke which contains 30g of sugar and 110 calories.

Before you buy your next beverage, take a moment to check the label and see just what you are are getting yourself in for. Better still, for real green living, stick to water!


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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