Low-Sugar Summer Thirst-Quenchers

A cold, refreshing beverage offers a delicious and satisfying way to cool off after a summer hike, a game of tennis or an afternoon of gardening. Whether you’ve played or worked hard, you can maintain that feeling of well-being by reaching for a healthy, thirst-quenching drink. Skip the sugary drinks and opt for no or low-calorie refreshers to help avoid weight gain and lower cancer risk.

AICR’s latest report and updated recommendations now include specific guidance on choosing healthy, cancer-preventive beverages:


This new recommendation highlights the convincing evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages cause weight gain, overweight and obesity, which is linked to 12 cancers. These drinks provide a lot of calories, but they don’t make you feel as full as food, like a sandwich or banana would. That makes it easier to overdo on calories – especially on drinks that provide few or no nutrients.

Beyond sodas and fruit punches, these include any drinks with added sugar, like sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters, cordials and coffee- and tea-based beverages like sweetened lattes and frozen versions. When choosing beverages at the store, check the ingredient label for added sugars, these include table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, honey, syrups or fruit juice concentrates.

The good news is that you can feel just as refreshed with drinks that don’t load up on sugar. Here are some tried and true strategies that can help you quench your thirst in a delicious and healthy way:

  • Enjoy teas like green, black, white and herbal options with flavors like pomegranate or other fruit 
  • Make alcohol-free Fizzers with carbonated waters and a splash of 100 percent fruit juice. 
  • Concoct low-alcohol Spritzers with just a splash of wine or liquor.
  • Coffee – both caffeinated and decaf have been linked to lower risk for endometrial and liver cancer.  Enjoy it plain, with milk or infused with cinnamon. 
  • In coffee shops, order lattes, hot or cold, coffee or unsweetened chai, with skim or 1 percent milk and no more than 1 teaspoon sweetener per cup, if using.

healthy drinks infographic

For more delicious water ideas, see our Cooling and Cancer-Fighting Summer Drinks and Spice Up Your Water articles.

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