Beverage choices are often overlooked when people start trying to clean up their diets. Which is a shame because this could have a powerful negative impact on your health. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average can of soda or fruit punch contains as much as 10 tablespoons of sugar and 150 total calories. To put that into perspective, if you were to drink one can a day for a year and make no other changes to your diet, you were gain about 5 pounds in that year.
And things don’t like any better when it comes to diet soda or artificially sweetened drinks, either. Although these tend to have little-to-no calories, they have still been linked with diabetes and obesity in several large studies. Clearly, then, they aren’t a great option.
But, now what? Of course, water is your best option. The zero-calorie beverage has a huge amount of health benefits and is a major component of the human body. But… it’s also flavorless and a little boring. So, with all of this considered how can you drink healthy without having to rely soley on water? Here are five healthy beverages to try.
- Infused water. Okay, this might seem like cheating because, yes, technically it is water. But plain ol’ water can be infused with all sorts of flavors by simply allowing fruits and herbs to sit in the water for several hours. This is a perfect way to use any frozen fruit you might have in the freezer, especially on a hot summer day. It should be noted that while this naturally flavored water may have slightly more nutrients in it than the plain stuff, it most likely isn’t the miracle detox and/or weight loss solution that some supporters would have you believe. Still, it’s a low-calorie beverage with added nutrients and no added sugar or artificial… anything.
- In it’s natural state – without sugar and the like – tea is a calorie-free beverage that is stuffed full of antioxidants and other healthful substances. The largest amount of benefits have been associated with green tea – which has been shown to add in weight loss while preventing heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers. Although it’s traditionally enjoy hot, green tea can also be iced and flavored with mint or fruits for a little something extra. Keep in mind, though, that green tea does have a small amount of caffeine but decaffeinated options are available if you chose to avoid the stimulant.
- Speaking of caffeine, coffee is much healthier than most people give it credit for. Similar to tea, coffee is calorie-free before sugar and milk are mixed in and is packed with healthful plant chemicals. The primary health benefit that has been observed from coffee is a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, but the beverage also offers a variety of beneficial antioxidants. Again, coffee does contain a considerable amount of caffeine so you may want to opt for decaf if you plan on drinking it frequently throughout the day.
- Coconut water. Within the past few years, coconut water experienced a massive spike in popularity and was hailed as a sort of fitness cure-all. It’s not. But it is a low-calorie, nutrient rich beverage that tastes like coconut – which is just a bonus, really. The downside is that, since it has received so much hype, coconut water can be expensive.
- Protein and meal replacements. We sometimes forget that those highly nutritious drinks and shakes we enjoy are, well… drinks. High quality meal replacements and protein supplements are a perfect way to meet both your hydration and nutrition needs for the day.
Interested in learning more? Browse our other posts to find some more helpful health and fitness tips.