Not so many years ago, if you wanted a convenient, ready-to-drink beverage (RTDs, in industry-speak), your choices were pretty much a vending-machine soda or a sugar-packed iced tea from the gas station. But the last decade has ushered in the healthy bottled beverage — Teas! Flavored waters! Green juices! — and now the market is flooded with a dizzying array of drink options, each targeting a specific palate or nutritional need. Many of these offerings are simply smarter versions of old standbys. Say, bottled iced teas minus all the sugar and artificial flavors. Some, like cold-brew coffee, have legit health benefits. But plenty others tout trendy ingredients and claim to do wonders for your body despite zero science to back them.
To determine which RTDs are truly good for you, and which are unhealthy hype, we enlisted the help of nutritionists and ranked them from best to worst. They’ve helped us dissect the biggest categories, appraise their healthfulness, and give you a few suggestions worth grabbing to quench your next thirst.