By Tamar Schreibman
When you think of good-for-you beverages, water immediately comes to mind, but there are others worth adding to your diet. “Some drinks have tremendous health benefits, from relieving minor ailments like indigestion to protecting against serious ones like osteoporosis,” says Dan Nadeau, MD, medical director ofExeter Hospital’s HealthReach Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Nutrition Center in Exeter, New Hampshire. Here, eight healthy drinks that are packed with disease-fighting nutrients. Now that’s easy to swallow.
The Benefit: Helps reduce risk of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, and cavities. Green tea contains a rich concentration of flavonoids and polyphenols, natural antioxidants that may protect cells from carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and inhibit tumor growth by helping to neutralize free radicals in the body. The tea’s antioxidants may also guard against heart disease by relaxing blood vessels, inhibiting the formation of blood clots that trigger heart attacks and strokes. Green tea also contains fluoride, which strengthens teeth; the flavonoids may build up bones as well, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and tooth decay.
One Percent Reduced-Fat Milk
The Benefit: Curbs cravings and helps protect against osteoporosis. Because it has the components of a healthy meal — carbohydrates, protein, and a little fat — you absorb it slowly and stay full longer, says Molly Pelzer, RD, a nutrition educator in Tipton, Iowa. It also stabilizes blood sugar, so you’re less susceptible to cravings. Milk is the ideal source of calcium, because it contains vitamin D, which is needed for maximumcalcium absorption. It may also help your body stop storing fat. In a recent study, women who consumed three to four servings of low-fat dairy foods (milk being one) lost nearly twice as much weight as those who took in lower amounts. “The calcium causes your body’s cells to burn the fat instead of holding on to it,” says Pelzer. “This makes it easier to reach and maintain your goal weight.”
Calories: 120 for 8 ounces
Calories: 81 for 8 ounces
Calories: 195 for 8 ounces homemade cocoa; 115 for a powdered mix
Low-Sodium Tomato Juice
The Benefit: May protect against numerous cancers. Processed tomato products are the richest source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been associated with a reduced risk of lung and stomach cancer, as well as pancreatic, colorectal, esophageal, oral, breast, and cervical cancers. Lycopene also appears to protect the lungs and heart against oxidative damage, helping to ward off cardiovascular disease.
Calories: 31 for 6 ounces
The Benefit: Helps prevent gum disease. Research suggests that the same antibacterial properties present in cranberry juice that fight off urinary tract infections may also protect against periodontal disease. Experts theorize that a component of the juice called nondialysable material (NDM) inhibits bacteria from sticking to the gums. Many nutritionists are wary of fruit juices because of their sugar content, so limit your intake to no more than one glass (6 to 8 ounces) daily. “Make sure the label says 100 percent juice, not ‘juice drink’ or ‘cocktail,'” suggests Heidi Reichenberger, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. You can find this type of juice in health-food stores and some supermarkets.
Calories: 140 for 8 ounces
Calories: 115 for 8 ounces
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