Test Your Skills: Drink to Your Health

MAY 14, 2014
Although some people are careful about what they eat, they may neglect to watch what they drink. With a large selection of high-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverages available, many people consume extra calories every day without realizing it. Are you one of them? Test your skills and see if you can identify the best and worst beverages to drink throughout the day.

Rise and Shine
• Breakfast drinks: What’s your best bet?

Good: Tea
Unsweetened tea is a calorie- and sugar-free way to get your morning dose of caffeine. Tea also contains antioxidants and other substances that may be beneficial to your health. Not a tea drinker? Coffee is also a good choice, but avoid adding sugar and super sweet creamers.

Bad: 100% Juice
A cup of orange juice with breakfast may be traditional, but you’re better off eating fruit whole instead of juiced. Juice lacks the important fiber that fruit delivers, and it’s easy to drink more than a serving. Although a piece of fruit is a better option, juice is still full of vitamins and free of added sugars, so starting your day with a glass of OJ is still a good option–every once in a while.

Ugly: Fruit Drinks
Fruit-flavored beverages and “juices” that contain less than 100% fruit juice are loaded with added sugar and deliver little to no nutritional value.

Liquid Fuel
• Workout Recovery: What do you reach for?

Good: Water
Water is always the best way to rehydrate your body after a sweat session and at any point throughout the day. Bored with water? Try adding some frozen fruit to your water bottle for a flavor boost.

Bad: Vitamin-Enhanced Waters
Although these colorful drinks boast that they contain nutrients that are necessary to a healthy lifestyle, they can also contain large amounts of added sugar and have high calorie counts. If you need your flavored water fix, look for sugar-free and calorie-free options.

Ugly: Sports Drinks
Sports drinks can be beneficial for serious athletes, but for the average active person, the high sugar content can often do more harm than good. Reach for water instead during and after your workout.

Energy Boost
• Fading Fast? What’s your afternoon pick-me-up?

Good: Latte
Coffee drinks often get a bad rap, but there’s nothing wrong with a small, plain latte. Ask for low-fat or skim milk and steer clear of flavored syrups, sugar, and whipped cream.

Bad: Diet Soda
Although diet sodas may be free of calories and sugar, overweight and obese adults who drink them may actually consume more calories. The results of a recent study, published in the March 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found that overweight adults who drank diet sodas actually ate more solid food than those who drank sugar sweetened beverages. Despite hype about the dangers of artificial sweeteners, drinking diet soda occasionally or in small amounts isn’t terrible. Just remember that drinking a diet beverage doesn’t mean you can consume additional calories elsewhere.

Ugly: Energy Drinks
Energy drinks will get your heart pumping, but at a price. These highly-caffeinated beverages are often loaded with added sugar, calories, and stimulants that can increase the effects of caffeine.

Dinner and Drinks
• Unwinding and Dining: What do you wash it down with?

Good: Carbonated Water
Again, water is always the best choice when it comes to beverages, but it can be hard to get used to if you’re trying to kick a soda habit. Carbonated or sparkling water, without added sodium, is a refreshing way to switch up your water routine. Add some lemon or lime for even more variety.

Bad: Red Wine
The antioxidants and resveratrol in red wine may reduce cholesterol and promote heart health. However, drinking too much alcohol can have harmful short-term and long-term effects. It’s OK to have red wine with dinner—just stick to 1 glass.

Ugly: Lemonade
Lemonade is the nutritional equivalent of soda. The summertime favorite is full of added sugars and calories and offers virtually no nutrients. Skip the lemonade stand and powdered mixes, opting for unsweetened iced tea or lemon water instead.

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