When a hot summer day sends you running to for a beverage, a cool glass of water is the best choice to rehydrate your body. If you want a more substantial drink to tide you over until your next meal, reach for something nutritious and low in sodium, a beverage that also provides a fruit, vegetable or dairy serving.
Even if you’re trying to limit your sodium intake, you may not think about the sodium in beverages. Ingesting too much sodium can cause high blood pressure, which increases your risk of developing heart disease down the road. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that most adults limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day, 1,500 milligrams for those older than 51. Some beverages contain a surprisingly high amount of sodium. One cup of canned tomato juice contains 878 milligrams of sodium, or 38 percent of the daily recommended intake. One cup of hot chocolate made with packaged cocoa mix contains 464 milligrams of sodium. Sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks also provide sodium, which can add up if you drink more than one serving a day.
Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that women consume 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables a day. A glass of orange, pineapple, prune or grapefruit juice can help meet your daily fruit recommendations for less than than 10 milligrams of sodium per cup. Choose varieties labelled "100-percent juice" and avoid blended juice cocktails or fruit drinks, which are high in sugar and contain little natural fruit juice. If you need an extra veggie serving, low-sodium vegetable juice provides 141 milligrams of sodium per half-cup serving.
Calcium is a concern for women, who have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than men. A degenerative bone-loss condition, osteoporosis leads to weak bones and an increased risk of bone fractures as you age. The Institute of Medicine recommends that women consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, and you can meet this recommendation by drinking calcium-rich beverages, such as milk. One cup of low-fat or skim milk provides 300 milligrams of calcium and only 149 milligrams of sodium.
A rich, creamy smoothie can provide a fruit and dairy serving. However, fast-food varieties often contain extra sugar and sodium. Make a healthier smoothie at home using your favorite fruits and low-fat dairy products. Fresh and frozen fruit contain little or no sodium, so load up your blender with blueberries, bananas, peaches, apples and strawberries. One-half cup of plain yogurt adds 105 milligrams of sodium to your smoothie, or about 5 percent of the recommended daily limit. For a low-sodium protein boost, add 1 ounce of unsalted nuts to your smoothie recipe.
- Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: The Sodium Content of Your Food
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: How Much Fruit Is Needed Daily?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: How Many Vegetables Are Needed Daily or Weekly?
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Campbell's, V8 Vegetable Juice, Low Sodium V8
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Milk, Lowfat, Fluid, 1 Percent Milkfat, With Added Nonfat Milk Solids, Vitamin A and Vitamin D
Jennifer Dlugos is a Boston-based writer with more than 10 years of experience in the health-care and wellness industries. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches screenwriting and film production classes throughout New England. Dlugos holds a master's degree in dietetics.