When you count calories and try to improve your health by watching what you eat, hidden culprits can sneak into your family diet where you don’t expect them to—in your drink! So before you serve your family that almond soy milk, orange juice or other beverage of choice, read through the following list for more information.
What to Drink – The Science Speaks
A study released from Harvard University confirms what you likely determined from common sense: serve your family water above any other beverage. After water, they should drink the following to stay hydrated in this order (best to worst):
- Tea and/or coffee
- Reduced-fat or soy milk
- Diet drinks that include calorie-free sweetener
- Drinks that contain some nutrients, such as sports drinks, fruit juice and whole milk and finally,
- Sweet beverages, such as carbonated drinks, punch or lemonade.
Most people would likely tell you that bottled water is safer than tap. However, that’s just not true. While most of them are safe to drink, studies show that brands vary widely when it comes to safety checks. In the summer, be sure to keep your bottle out of the heat so that it doesn’t leak BPA into the water, infusing harmful chemicals into the water for you or your kids.
Tap water might provide a safer and less expensive option than bottled water for your family. Your public works company will provide you with a water-quality report, which should be at least passing. You can also buy a water filter, but make sure it’s approved by an overseeing agency.
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Research confirms that green tea helps nearly every organ in your body, including your heart, arteries and liver. It fights cancer and diabetes and even lowers blood pressure and burns fat. While it acts as a slight stimulant, it also helps reduce anxiety and can be a great addition to a healthy diet for your family.
Coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds and research confirms that it actually fights several different types of cancer while reducing the risk for Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, it also lessens your chance for clogged arteries. However, excessive amounts appear counterproductive, so drink it in moderation. Do not serve drinks with excessive caffeine to young children.
Touted as a drink to rehydrate you and add in electrolytes after an intense work out, Gatorade’s claims might not hold any water, if you’ll pardon the pun. You don’t retain Gatorade any better than you do water, which means that the energy drink doesn’t really help you or the kids much after a busy day at the park or riding bikes.
The bone broth craze shows that fads come around again. However, there’s not any evidence to substantiate all the miracle-working claims of the liquid. Even so at least one study supports the fact that people who eat chicken soup feel better if they have an upper respiratory infection. It contains nutrients, which provide additional benefits if you want your family to eat healthy.
Drinking a glass of orange juice adds fruit and fiber to your day, right? Well, yes. Except that glass also adds nearly as much sugar as a candy bar. In addition, the sugar is concentrated, so instead of spreading out the sweetness over several bites of fruit, you or the kids have swallowed it in no time flat. Vegetable juices, especially those that are pre made, can also contain excessive sugar. For a healthier option, dilute your juice with water so that it’s not quite as concentrated, especially for younger children.
While mashing and straining almonds might sound like a great idea on the surface, the drink eliminates protein and good fats. In addition, it doesn’t have calcium, so you lose nearly all the benefits of eating plain almonds. However, it does have about half the calories of regular milk. As such, it’s not harmful, but it offers few health benefits for your family.
Unpasteurized, raw milk offers a plethora of nutritional wonders. Pasteurization, while making milk “safe” to drink, has removed many of the nutrients, in some cases, nearly 90 percent of the vitamins. While manufacturers add Vitamin D back in, this nutrient isn’t absorbed into your body. As such, milk might not be the wonder drink for your kids that you were led to believe.
Chocolate milk has the potential to contain loads of sugar, so you have to be very mindful of how you’re making yours. However, its redeeming quality is that it does have protein in it, making it a slightly better option than Gatorade for your family.
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Each of these products vary widely as to nutritional benefits even across brands. Learn to read labels and turn to water first, even a few sips, instead of hydrating yourself or your kids with empty calories.