While maintaining proper fluid balance is crucial to being healthy, some beverages give you an overabundance of calories but offer little to no nutrients. The top five drinks packing the most benefits to your health are water, milk, green tea, fruit smoothies and juice. Collectively, these drinks cover all the health bases containing protein, good carbs, a plethora of vitamins and minerals, along with antioxidants like phenols and flavonoids. Benefits range from reduced disease risk, improved mood, satiety and better digestive health.
Water is the principal health drink. It also happens to be the wicked stepsister of the beverage world. Health professionals talk about the importance of water incessantly, yet most people still probably do not take in their 8 to 12 cups a day. The majority of your body is water, so keeping the amount in check is critical. Although water lacks the frills of other healthy drinks, not getting enough can have devastating results. Dehydration and heat stroke are potentially fatal ailments. Another advantage of choosing water -- particularly for individuals trying to maintain a healthy diet -- is that there are no calories.
Low-fat or better still, nonfat, skim milk is a drink every nutritious diet should include. It offers protein to help you feel full longer, calcium that increases bone strength and vitamin D, which maximizes calcium absorption. These ingredients ward off cravings and protect against osteoporosis, all while excluding extra fat.
This relaxing choice decreases your chance of cancer with its powerful antioxidants that fight harmful free radicals. These heavy-hitters may also avert heart disease by improving blood flow. Fluoride, which is found naturally in green tea, supports dental health, guarding your teeth from cavities. Zero calories plus tons of benefits equals an outstanding drink option.
Making your own smoothies enriches your diet with a healthy drink. Using ice cubes, fresh or frozen berries and Greek yogurt, you have created a great snack or small meal. Berries add those potent antioxidants that rid the body of carcinogens or cancer-causing cells in addition to valuable vitamins and minerals. Greek yogurt has none of the fat, twice the protein and a richer, creamier texture than its regular counterpart.
Not all fruit and vegetable juices make the most of their calories. Some have many unnecessary ingredients. Juicing at home is best; however, at the store, buy only 100-percent fruit or vegetable juice with no added sugar. Orange juice with pulp provides immune-boosting vitamin C, and cranberry inhibits bacterial growth that causes urinary-tract infections. Juice makes you healthy, but limit consumption due to its organic-sugar content.
- “Nutrition: The Complete Guide”; John Berardi Ph.D., Ryan Andrews M.S./M.A., R.D.; 2009
- “Cook This, Not That”; David Zinczenko, Matt Goulding; 2010
- Fitnessmagazine.com: The 8 Healthiest Drinks
- LPI.oregonstate.edu: Micronutrient Information Center, Tea