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What Is The Healthiest Lemonade?

Looking for the best low calorie lemonade? Find out about the lowest calorie lemonade options here!


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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! But is lemonade good for a diet? What’s the healthiest lemonade?


The best low calorie lemonade choices optimize nutrients while keeping added sugar levels low. Low calorie lemonade is both possible and delicious with just a few tips and tricks. Find out about the best low calorie lemonades here.


Read on to discover a nutrition expert’s top picks for the lowest calorie lemonade.


 

Is Lemonade Unhealthy?

While certainly low-cost, lemonade can be anything but low-calorie. Some lemonades contain more calories than a soda of the same size!


Using the guide for “Making The Best Beverage Choices for Your Health”, you can see that lemonade falls somewhere between “fruit juice” and “other”.



A healthy lemonade contains more fruit juice from real fruit and less sugar (or lower glycemic sugar options). This ensures that the lemonade has the most nutrients possible and that the sugar doesn't reduce the nutrient level of the entire drink.




How Do You Make Healthy Lemonade?

The first rule of thumb is to consume lemonade healthfully. Lemonade offers some to no nutrients, and as a habit should be consumed in moderation. One glass a day is great for someone who is eating a balanced diet and enjoys a refreshing sip now and then!


Lemon Juice

Fresh squeezed lemon juice is often considered best when wanting that typical lemonade taste. Lemons offer a lot of nutrition, including:


A medium lemon is low calorie (about 20 calories on average) and is also low in sodium. This makes it a superstar ingredient worthy of being this delicious drink’s namesake.


Lemons are also in season year-round. While lemonade is typically thought of as a springtime or summer drink, it can be enjoyed all year long.




Related Read: Food Facts - Lemons, including how to store, pick, wash, eat, and use lemons properly



Liquid

While most people opt for water to add fluid volume to this delicious drink, 100% juice or mixing other fruity flavors with water can help add an unexpected spark. Sparkling water or seltzers can also spice things up.


Avoid adding sugar-sweetened fluids when you can to keep the calorie count low.




Little Bit Of Something Sweet

Sugar isn’t the only option for adding something sweet to lemonade. Other options that fall lower on the glycemic index include:

  • Honey

  • Stevia

  • Erythritol (be sure it’s not combined with other sugar alcohols or sugars like fructose)

  • Monk Fruit Sweetener/Extract (Luo Han Guo)

  • Coconut sugar

  • Palm sugar

  • Agave Nectar

  • Small amounts of simple syrup




If you’re winging it with the lemonade recipe, be sure to add a sweetener only a ½ tablespoon at a time. Otherwise, it is easy to go overboard.



Look Out For These Ingredients

Some ingredients to be aware of (and avoid if possible) when shopping for commercial or store-bought lemonades include:

  • Sugar

  • High-fructose corn syrup

  • High-calorie sweeteners


These three major additives add to the calorie count but not to the nutrient profile. In other words, they make the drink less nutritious.


Related Read: The Truth About Sugar Substitutes, including sneaky names for sugar and a list of better-for-your-body sweeteners




How To Make Low Calorie Lemonade

I’ve pulled all the best lemonade recipes from the experts so you don’t have to! Save time and stress with these refreshing recipes.


Low Calorie Lemonade Recipe

Each of these recipes comes from dietitians or nutrition experts. Each also contains an average of 150 calories or less per serving. Bottoms up!



Less Than Or Equal To 1 Tablespoon Sugar Per Serving


LEMONADE FOR ONE

Myplate (1 glass, ~ 1 cup)

Total calories: 108


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • ¾ cup water

  • 1 Tbsp sugar


INSTRUCTIONS

Stir to mix ingredients.


VARIATIONS

  • Use one half lemon and one half lime

  • Use one half lemon and one half orange

  • Add ¼ cup apple juice concentrate instead of 1 Tbsp sugar

  • Use ¼ cup seltzer and ½ cup water instead of ¾ cup water


LEMONADE FIT FOR THE FAMILY

Cindy Silver, RD (Makes 3-4 servings)


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large lemons, juiced (or 3 small lemons)

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 Tbsp sugar


INSTRUCTIONS

Stir to mix ingredients.




Lovely, Low-Calorie Lemonade Variations


The Last Word On Low-Calorie Lemonade

There's nothing like a cold glass of refreshing lemonade on a hot summer's day. Keeping it low-calorie can help control sugar levels and also making lemonade more interesting! Try these recipes and variations today (#NationalLemonadeDay) or any day -- lemons are in season year round.

 

References


Gunnars K. 5 Natural Sweeteners That Are Good for Your Health. Healthline.com. Published June 4, 2021.


Tarantino O. Every Popular Added Sweetener -- Ranked! Eatthis.com. Published April 25, 2016.


The Nutrition Source. Healthy Beverage Guidelines. Hsph.harvard.edu. Accessed August 2021.


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