Healthy Drinks Other Than Water
The general rule of thumb is to drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water daily to meet your fluid needs (in addition to foods and other beverages). If you’d like more variety in your beverage choices, there is hope. There are many hydrating, healthy drinks you can enjoy in addition to water, including milk or soy milk, tea and coconut water.
Healthy Drinks Other Than Water: Milk
Milk, a dairy product, is one of the most nutrient-rich beverages available. Low-fat or 1% milk offers about 102 calories, 8 g protein, 12 g carbohydrate and 3 g total fat per cup (2 g saturated fat). The same serving size of skim milk provides the fewest calories, 86, and 0 g fat per cup and the same amount of protein and carbohydrate as low-fat milk. In addition to being rich in high-quality protein, milk is an excellent source of other nutrients as well, including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A and D, riboflavin or vitamin B2, vitamin B12 and others. If you don’t like milk or are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or soy milk. Fortified soy milk provides a similar nutrition profile to cow’s milk.
If you enjoy tea – hot or iced – you are in luck as it appears to offer significant protection against the development of serious health conditions. Tea comes in many forms and has been rapidly gaining popularity in the U.S. In fact about 154 million people drink tea daily, 50% of which live in the U.S.! All teas, oolong, green, black, white, come from the same plant, the Camellia Sinesis. The difference between them is the fermentation and amount of processing. Tea is rich in antioxidant compounds known as flavonoids and catechins. Black and green teas seem to be the most potent options for promoting a healthy heart. According to a recent research study, women that drank 3 cups of black tea daily lowered their cholesterol levels and reduced their risk of heart attack by 11%. Black tea also shows promise for reducing blood pressure and improving mood!
In another research study, women that drank 5 cups of green tea daily reduced their risk of dying by heart attack by 31%. Ready-to-drink bottled tea and tea brewed from bags or pouches is less powerful than loose (leaf) tea. Loose (leaf) tea brewed for a long time has the highest antioxidant content.
While not the miracle drink or cure-all it is touted to be for preventing all sorts of diseases and alleviating ailments, coconut water is a more natural alternative to sports drinks and is tasty, though not calorie-free. Coconut water is clear, like plain water, and comes from young (green) coconuts. Some producers call it “nature’s sports drink,” because, in addition to containing water for hydration, it also offers some carbohydrates in the form of sugar, and electrolytes to help replace those lost through sweat. It is slightly lower in calories, sugar and much lower in sodium than Gatorade (per ounce) but is higher in potassium. While sports dietitians do not routinely recommend swapping sports drinks for coconut water (more expensive and not high enough in sodium), it may be a fun, tasty alternative for the curious consumer.