When it comes to healthy beverage choices, water tends to always top the list. But where do other favorites like juice, coffee, tea, milk, and even alcohol fit into a healthy lifestyle?
So Many Choices?!
With so many beverages lining store shelves plus media hubbub swirling about the so-called positive and negative effects of various drinks, what you should be sipping? Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition reviewed the wide selection of beverages available and ranked them into 6 levels based on the amount of calories, good-for-you nutrients, and scientific evidence on the negative and positive effects on health. Not too surprising, water topped the list, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only healthy choice.
Top Beverage Choices
Unsweetened tea, coffee and milk have a place in your healthy eating plan, while juice, alcohol and sweetened beverages should be consumed sparingly.
Water helps restore fluid losses and helps rehydrate your body. Although we’re often told to drink 8 cups of water each day, the amount of water we need varies from person to person. It depends on the amount of food you eat, how active you are and the climate you live in. Most people get about 80% of their fluids from beverages, the rest comes from food. The Institute of Medicine’s guidelines are 15 cups per day for men and 11 cups per day for women (coming from a combo of food and drinks).
Tea and Coffee
Tea and coffee are two of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world. Without all the fancy add-ins (like whipped cream, shaved chocolate, heavy cream), they can provide numerous nutritional benefits and help meet your daily fluid requirements. Green tea has been touted for helping prevent heart disease while coffee has been shown to have explosive amounts of cell-protecting antioxidants. Although studies have found that up to 3 or so cups of coffee or tea are okay, these drinks also tend to leach out calcium and iron, so try to keep it to that amount.
Low-Fat, Skim and Soy Milk
Milk provides 9 essential nutrients including protein, calcium, and vitamin D. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommended choosing low-fat or fat-free (AKA skim) milk to minimize saturated fat and cholesterol. Drinking milk and soy milk can also help you meet the recommended 3 servings of dairy each day.