Many cans of soda contain more sugar than the FDA's suggested daily intake. Many cans of soda contain more sugar than the FDA's suggested daily intake. Many cans of soda contain more sugar than the FDA's suggested daily intake. (Photo: Various)

6 refreshing soft drinks that are healthier than you think

These beverages offer a reduced-sugar alternative to the average soda.

Soda has always been an iconic staple of the American diet. And in recent years a whole new sub-industry of soft drinks has shot up, ready to, if not replace soda, at least offer a healthier alternative.

Some of these soft drinks cut the sugar at little cost to the taste while even others boast of their positive health benefits. It's true. Don't believe us? Well, here's proof.


Dry SodaDry soda flavors range from the familiar to the more experimental. (Photo: Dry Soda)

Dry was founded on the premise that tastes are changing, that people want new flavors and don't want their soft drinks to be drowning in high-fructose syrup. The company must have been on to something, as the brand, based in the Northwest United States, has begun to develop a fanbase across the country.

Flavors include lavender, rhubarb, juniper berry and serrano pepper and with just a hint of sweet (the drinks have less sugar than most yogurts at your local supermarket), the flavor really is allowed to shine through.


BionadeBionade can be found in specialty stores such as Whole Foods. (Photo: Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)

Bionade's tag line is "refreshingly different." It's certainly made that way. Manufactured in Germany, the drink was created by Dieter Leopold as his family's brewery began to face financial difficulties in the 1990s.

Bionade is made with malt, water, sugar and fruit essences. Leipold says the process by which he makes Bionade dictates that less sugar is needed while not losing much of the sweetness. Elderberry, orange-ginger and quince flavors evoke cocktails rather than soda, but rest assured you'll find this sweet beverage in the (healthy) soda aisle.


NesherDrinking Nesher Malt is a tradition in Israel, where it's a perfect to the country's healthy palate. (Photo: Nesher)

Nesher initially produced beer, Israel's first, before this soft drink offshoot shot up and quickly overtook the country's tastebuds. A national tradition of sorts, Nesher Malt pairs perfectly with the country's Mediterranean diet.

The beverage is so good for you that its health benefits are actually a part of its sales pitch. It contains antioxidants, folic acid, vitamins and minerals and is recommended for pretty much everyone – pregnant and breastfeeding women especially. Fortunately for us, it's available in some American specialty food stores and easily procured online.


NaturfriskNaturfrisk's line of sodas are held to the highest standards of production. (Photo: Naturfrisk)

Ørbæk Brewery has been turning out beer in Denmark since the turn of the 20th century, but not until recently did it get into the soft drink trade. The company claims you can drink its products with a clear conscience because it holds them to the highest standards of quality – ingredients must be "natural, pure and of the highest quality."

With flavors like Apple, Elderflower and Cola Fruit, our conscience is certainly clear. While they only supply to Europe at the moment, through the magic of the internet their beverages can be easily (and affordably) purchased online.


GusGus claims to be a "grown-up soda" but is just sweet enough to please kids. (Photo: Gus Soda)

GuS sells itself as a "Grown Up Soda," but kids'll love it too. Company founders Steve Hersh and Jeannette Luoh developed this line of sodas for much the same reasons the folks at Dry did, and while their flavor line up is a bit more traditional – orange, ginger, cola and root beer to name a few – the same concept is applied: pairing back on the sweetness makes for a better soft drink.


Hopwater bills itself as more than just a soda – claiming it represents the creation of a new category of hopped beverages. Whatever the case may be, it's certainly made differently: a tincture for each flavor is first produced before being mixed with water and cane sugar. Whatever it is, it's darn well delicious (and low on sugar, of course).


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