Summer’s on its way and for most of us that means we’ll be outside, taking in the sun, and having a few cocktails. Unfortunately, nearly all of the colorful, tasty, sugary concoctions you order at the bar are filled with bad stuff. It’s not just the overdose of sugar that can be harmful to you; it’s the artificial flavors and colors, the high fat content, the high calorie count – and the alcohol content too.
In the USA, nearly 80,000 people die from alcohol-related diseases every year and about 27% of the population was considered obese in 2013. What’s more, about 25% of the adult population admits that they engage in binge drinking. Among regular drinkers, the popularity of cocktails and pre-mixed drinks is rising, with fewer people opting for a simple wine, beer or straight spirit at the bar.
Data released by newBrandAnalytics in early 2014 showed upcoming trends among drinkers for the year ahead, based on posts people make on social media sites and other websites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and OpenTable. It found that cocktails such as margaritas are on the rise, with orange, mango, watermelon and pear margaritas among the most popular flavors. It also showed an upsurge in flavored martinis and mojitos, as well as ciders and craft beers.
Everyone knows that excessive drinking of alcohol isn’t good for you, regardless of the drink you choose. But could that one cocktail you’re sipping poolside in the Caribbean be worse for you than a greasy burger and fries? Check out our list of 10 cocktails that are shockingly bad for you and see what the worst culprits are.
10. Sangria – 200 Calories
Sangria is a summertime favorite, and the fruit always makes it look healthy. However, it’s the added sugar that turns this into a bad choice. Alongside the wine, sangria usually has added fruit juice (which is loaded with sugar of course), syrup and table sugar. This turns it into a calorie bomb. Mexican fast food chain, Taco Bell, announced in January 2014 its new sangria-flavored Mountain Dew drink. Although this one is free from alcohol, it’s got the carbonated, wine flavor still – and tons of sugar.
9. Red Bull & Vodka – 250 Calories
This caffeine-charged drink is known among clubbers as a sure-fire way to get drunk quickly, but it comes with its risks. Red Bull is one of the biggest selling energy drinks but with a huge amount of caffeine it can cause health side effects such as insomnia and heart palpitations. When combined with vodka, it can be particularly dangerous. A report by the Medical Daily website said that those who drink Red Bull and vodka are 600% more likely to get heart palpitations and that some deaths could have been linked directly to Red Bull and vodka, although there was no clear evidence yet. They quoted Dr Dan Andersson from Stockholm’s South Hospital (in Sweden) as saying that if you drink a lot of Red Bull and mix it with alcohol, it can be very dangerous.
8. Eggnog – 300+ Calories
You’d be hard pressed to find a nutritionist who didn’t add this to their list of cocktails that are shockingly bad for you – and your festive season belly! Made up of raw egg yolks, sugar, spices, rum, milk and heavy cream, then heated before it’s served, this drink is a holiday favorite and its origins date back to the 18th century or earlier. Unfortunately it’s got about 340 calories plus 19 grams of fat per serve – and more cholesterol in one cup than you need in a day. Aside from this, egg nog is made of raw eggs, meaning it poses other health risks like salmonella.
7. Mulled Wine – 350+ Calories
Another holiday cocktail, steaming hot mulled wine is delicious but dangerous for the waistline. Made of red wine, fruit and herbs, it doesn’t sound bad for you but the problem lies with the sugar. A glass of mulled wine could have up to quarter of a cup of added sugar in it, which may be the reason you feel pretty happy after a glass or two. Nutrition experts recommend making your own mulled wine, with more spices and less sugar, which might help reduce the 350-calories to something less. Otherwise, a glass of red wine is known to have healthy properties and is usually about 100 calories.
6. Long Island Iced Tea – 400+ Calories
The “iced tea” part may sound promising but it isn’t – there isn’t a single antioxidant in one of these popular cocktails. Grab one, 9-ounce Long Island Iced Tea at the bar and you could be adding up to 800 calories to your day. Made of rum, gin, vodka, tequila and triple sec, plus a sweet and sour mix and Coca Cola, this drink is far higher in calories than most people think. Loaded with sugar (which can lead to tooth decay and weight gain), it’s a calorie overload that’ll also leave you with a hangover. On the plus side, if you skip this drink and opt for something simpler, you might save yourself some cash. With the price of lemons and limes going up due to cold weather and other issues in Mexico, it’s possible bars will start passing those costs on to consumers.
5. Flavored Martinis – 400+ Calories
The martini glass has an alluring appeal and is a classic around the world. The original martini, which is made of gin and vermouth, tends to be one of the healthier cocktails around and it was made famous by movie character James Bond. However, when it’s mixed with flavors and heavily sweetened it becomes one of the worst. That means apple-tinis, choco-tinis and anything with a fruity flavor is likely to be shockingly bad for you. Take chocolate martinis, for example, which can hit the 450 calorie mark. They are the equivalent of eating a dessert thanks to the added chocolate sweeteners.
4. Frozen Margarita – 500+ Calories
This popular Mexican cocktail can have as many as 700 calories in just one serving. It’s made from tequila, lemon, lime (or strawberry puree) and a sugary syrup. There’s usually a fair bit of salt on the rim of the glass too, all adding up to a cocktail that is high in calories, sodium, alcohol and sugar. Author of Read It Before You Eat It, Bonnie Taub-Dix, says that the more you mix your drink, the worse off you are, meaning that margaritas are one of the worst. A healthier option is tequila, ice and a twist of lime.
3. Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri – 500+ Calories
The frozen daiquiri is another culprit when it comes to unhealthy cocktails. These sweet, frozen and fruity beverages are packed with sugar, artificial syrup and fruit, and ring in at about 500 to 600 calories each. In early 2014, Michelle Obama and the American Food and Drug Administration announced their plans to change nutrition labels in the USA and this cocktail could be affected. Wine coolers – such as B&J’s Strawberry Daiquiri Cooler – would need to increase the serving size they put on the nutrition labels so that drinkers know what they’re getting themselves in for. Currently the published serving size is substantially less than a bottle.
2. White Russian – 600+ Calories
The White Russian is one of the least healthy cocktails on the market, and can be as much as 860 calories and 21 grams of fat per serving. That’s about the same as packing away a double cheeseburger combo at McDonalds. The syrupy cocktail is typically made up of Kahlua (a Mexican coffee liqueur), vodka and then either heavy cream or milk. The movie The Big Lebowski heavily features a character played by Jeff Bridges, who constantly drinks White Russians. The movie didn’t do well initially, but has since gathered a cult following for itself and the White Russian is becoming a drink of choice for hipsters.
1. Piña Colada – 600+ Calories
A Mexican classic, the piña colada is a poolside favorite, but unfortunately it’s full of calories and empty of nutrition. Made of rum, coconut cream, coconut milk, pineapple juice and ice, it easily exceeds 600 calories not to mention boosting your fat intake substantially. It’s the coconut cream that does most of the damage – one glass of coconut cream on its own has almost 800 calories and over 80 grams of fat. What’s more, cheap coconut oils tend to be processed heavily with chemicals which can be very unhealthy too. Considering a piña colada has more calories than a McDonalds Big Mac, it doesn’t bode well for the waistline.