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Healthy Habits: How-Tos

The 6 Worst Cocktails for Your Health

Steer clear of these diet- and teeth-saboteurs the next time you’re grabbing drinks.

That piña colada may look pretty, but it’s bursting with calories and cavity-causing sugar -- and it’s not the only drink that can wreak havoc on your health. “Enjoying cocktails is a great part of summer, but you can do it in a healthy or unhealthy way,” says Carolyn Brown, a registered dietitian at Foodtrainers, a private practice in New York City. “Sugar and calories add up quickly. Here are the six worst offenders.

Drink Disaster 1: Long Island Iced Teas
This cocktail typically combines several different types of liquor (vodka, gin, rum and tequila) with triple sec, sour mix and soda -- all of which are high in sugar. As a result, a Long Island Iced Tea is extremely caloric. A 12-ounce glass is about 350 calories -- and many bars pour significantly bigger servings.

Drink Disaster 2: Piña Coladas
The standard piña colada recipe calls for coconut cream, which is high in fat and calories, and pineapple juice, which is loaded with sugar. Drinking pineapple juice is not nearly as good nutritionally as eating a pineapple, Brown says, so don’t fool yourself that you’re doing something healthy. At 600 calories per 12-ounce glass, piña coladas can pack nearly half of your daily caloric intake in one drink.

Drink Disaster 3: Frozen Mudslides
This chocolate-y drink is more of a milkshake than a cocktail. It’s usually made with Kahlúa and Bailey's, both of which contain cream, so the drink is high in fat. Chocolate syrup and a whipped cream topping also pack in tons of sugar. The end result: 960 calories in a 12-ounce serving. For a smarter choice that's still creamy and sweet, order Kahlúa or Bailey's on the rocks.

Drink Disaster 4: Commercial Wine Coolers
While you can make a sensible wine spritzer at home, just say no to the pre-packaged versions: They usually contain tons of added sugar, along with artificial chemicals and food dyes that may be linked to more serious health problems, such as cancer.

Drink Disaster 5: Daiquiris
Fruity blended drinks are usually loaded with sweeteners and fruit juice -- and that’s the best-case scenario. Those made from mixes can be even worse since they contain heavy syrups. Expect a 12-ounce daiquiri to set you back more than 650 calories.

Drink Disaster 6: Punch
Step away from the punch bowl unless you know exactly what’s in it. Party punches are often made with a powdered mix that’s filled with sugar and artificial ingredients. Plus, the alcohol that goes into them can be as high as 180 proof. “People think they’re saving themselves calories by going with the higher alcohol content, but really the calories are just more condensed,” says Brown.

Robin Hilmantel is an associate editor at Food Network Magazine. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, USA Today and Maxim, among other publications. She is a frequent contributor to Completely You.

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