Tis the season for summer parties and happy hours galore. Luckily, you don't have to abandon your social life to stay healthy: Even nutritionists have a drink from time to time, says Carolyn Brown, registered dietitian at Foodtrainers, a private practice in New York City. The key is to skip the blended drinks and sugary mixers, since they add calories and invite cavities. You're ordering a cocktail -- not dessert, says Brown. Check out some of her top picks.
Nothing says summer like a margarita, but they’re typically made with a sweet-and-sour mix that’s packed with sugar. Instead, try this low-cal substitute: tequila on the rocks with lime juice and a little bit of agave syrup. You’ll get the same flavor for a fraction of the calories.
Assuming they’re not made with a prepared mix (ask to make sure before you order), these cocktails -- which contain white rum, seltzer, lime, mint leaves and about 1-2 teaspoons of sugar -- are a great low-calorie and low-sugar option. Bonus: The fresh mint has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. To make your mojito even healthier, request that the bartender use half the normal amount of sugar.
3. Vodka Sodas
Since seltzer water is calorie-free, ordering a vodka soda will ensure you keep calories and added sugar at a minimum. For extra flavor, ask for a splash of cranberry juice and a lime wedge. Just make sure not to confuse a vodka soda with a vodka tonic: Tonic water contains almost as much sugar as flavored sodas do.
4. Light Beers
Not only are light beers waistline-friendly (about 90-120 calories each), but they have the added advantage of being preportioned. Since research shows that over-serving in bars is common, ordering a bottled beer is a great way to control the amount of alcohol -- and calories -- you’re taking in.
Wine (both red and white) contains heart-healthy resveratrol. For lower sugar content, choose a red wine or a dry white wine, such as a chardonnay or a pinot grigio. Just be sure to keep an eye on portion size too: Five ounces of wine is the standard serving size. (That’s about one-fifth of a bottle.)
6. Bloody Mary Cocktails
The tomato juice in these vodka-based drinks is a good source of vitamin C, folate, potassium and more. These cocktails are also low in sugar, unlike drinks that contain fruit juices or sodas as a mixer. Eat the celery and any other veggies that garnish the drink for added nutrition.
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