Sweet-tea lovers: Why you should switch to unsweetened tea today


June 25, 2018

No doubt it’s tasty, but sweet tea should become a treat instead of a go-to thirst quencher.


Sweet tea is one tradition we aren’t quite ready to give up completely. But with the amount of sugar it has, it’s time to consider switching to unsweetened iced tea.

A gallon of homemade sweet tea often has at least 1 cup of sugar: That means 25 grams of sugar per 16-ounce glass.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center registered dietitian Madeleine H. Hallum encourages a switch to unsweetened tea as a way to reduce your overall sugar consumption.

Sweet Tea vs. Unsweetened Iced Tea

“Sugar provides a lot of excess calories in most Americans’ diet, which may lead to chronic disease states such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity,” Hallum said.

But the benefit of unsweetened tea doesn’t just stop at lowered sugar intake.

“Across the globe, tea is believed to help with weight loss, sleep and even aging gracefully,” she said. “The strongest evidence is regarding heart health.”

Hallum said research published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke links green tea to lower stroke risks. “It’s believed that the catechins — an antioxidant compound — are protective and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. The antioxidants in green tea have also been shown to help lower total cholesterol levels.”

One study even found that unsweetened tea may prevent periodontal bacteria and tooth loss, Hallum said.

Looking to make the switch from sweet to unsweet but worried about the taste change? Hallum suggested mixing unsweet tea into your glass of sweet tea, tilting the mix over time toward all unsweet.

“Gradually reduce your sugar intake until you can 100 percent commit to unsweet tea,” Hallum advised.

If plain tea is too bland, Hallum suggests adding other calorie-free flavors such as a squirt of lemon or lime juice for a healthier addition to unsweetened tea.


We hate to be the bearer of bad news … but there’s some other Southern favorites you should be limiting. See which salty six you should avoid here.