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Are Sports Drinks with Electrolytes Healthy?

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Zumpano said electrolytes play a big role in our overall health and help with the function of our brain, heart, muscles and nerves. Image for illustration purposes
Zumpano said electrolytes play a big role in our overall health and help with the function of our brain, heart, muscles and nerves. Image for illustration purposes
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CLEVELAND CLINIC – You’ve probably seen a lot of sports drinks advertising that they have electrolytes in them, which are important for your body, but many of those same drinks are also filled with other ingredients, and they’re not always healthy. 
 
“They do have some electrolytes added with water, they do generally have a good amount of sugar added and food dye, depending on the brand and the kind,” explained Julia Zumpano, RD, registered dietitian for Cleveland Clinic. “So I think that it’s important if you are going to choose an electrolyte replacer or enhancer beverage, you look at the other ingredients.”  
 
Zumpano said electrolytes play a big role in our overall health and help with the function of our brain, heart, muscles and nerves. 

Some of the more common electrolytes added to sports drinks include sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. 

However, there are other electrolytes we need too. 

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Zumpano said you can get all of them on a regular basis by simply eating a healthy diet rich in whole foods.  
 
“They’re all sourced in different foods, but there is a common theme, and that is they are found in fruits and vegetables. They’re found in beans, seaweed, dairy, dark chocolate, fatty fish, olives, pickle juice, bone broth, nuts, seeds and leafy greens,” she said. 
 
Zumpano said her advice is to skip the use of sports drinks. 

As an alternative, consider getting electrolytes by adding a powdered version without dyes or loads of added sugar to your water.   

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