Water is the most beneficial beverage. It contains 0 calories and no fat and will properly hydrate you if you drink enough of it every day. Other beverages can quench your thirst while also supplying essential nutrients and offering certain health benefits. Opt for water most of the time, but when you need a change, choose these nutritious drinks.
Pure water hydrates you, replenishes your bodily fluids and quenches your thirst. It's the only beverage you really need to survive. Plain water can get boring even though it's so good for you. Add fresh lemon, lime, orange or cucumber slices to a glass of plain water to enhance the flavor and encourage you to drink more. The fruits and vegetables add tiny amounts of key nutrients such as vitamin C and potassium as well.
Tea and Coffee
Unsweetened tea and coffee are low in calories and offer certain health benefits as well. Coffee supplies antioxidants that might protect you from Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and liver cancer. Drink one or two cups of coffee without cream or sugar to keep the beverage low in fat and calories while also reaping the antioxidant benefits it offers. Drinking coffee in moderation will also keep your caffeine intake low. An April 2002 article published in the "Journal of Nutrition" reports that black and green tea supply antioxidants as well, though green tea contains higher concentrations than black tea. A study published in the April 2006 issue of "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" notes that green tea might reduce your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Green tea also promotes oral health, bone strength and weight control. Drink unsweetened tea to keep the drink low in calories.
Milk is a nutritious source of bone-building calcium and vitamin D, a nutrient that enables your body to absorb calcium. Milk also supplies a healthy dose of protein. Skim milk contains no fat and has less than 100 calories per 8-ounce serving. One percent milk contains a small amount of fat but supplies equal amounts of calcium, vitamin D and protein. Skip 2 percent and whole milk, unless advised by your doctor, because they contain larger amounts of saturated fat and calories. Limit your milk intake to one or two glasses a day, the Harvard School of Public Health advises to control your calorie intake.
A small glass of juice each day adds vitamin C and potassium to your diet, but drink it in moderation because it's also high in calories. When you do drink juice, opt for 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices because they don't contain any added sugar. Drink 4 ounces or less a day. If you enjoy the flavor of juice, try adding a splash to plain water or diluting it with sparkling water. You'll still get the flavor, but you'll consume fewer calories.
Drinks to Avoid
Skip soda, fruit-flavored drinks and other sugary beverages. These are high in calories, contain several grams of added sugar and don't supply key vitamins and minerals. While an occasional glass won't harm your health, regularly consuming these unhealthy drinks can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. Drinking large amounts can also increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.