The Top 15 healthiest Drinks Uncovered

I have a question and be honest. How many calories or sugar are you drinking daily? Or how many cups of sweet tea or cans of cola do you normally go through?

In America, for example, we especially love our sugary drinks. It may due to the fact that billions are spent in advertising for these beverage companies yearly ($3.2 billion in 2006 for example with $500 million targeting children).

Also larger sizes of sodas are becoming the norm, we have moved on from the modest 12 oz can to the Godzilla like 64 oz fountain drinks that contain up to 700 calories and as much sugar as 3 donuts!

That is crazy

All right, enough a public health rant.

On television you always see Gatorade advertising about keeping yourself hydrated with their drink. They do not tell you that unless you are playing full games of basketball or tennis, you should not be drinking it during your regular day.

My favorite commercial is how Pepsi somehow promotes social justice and equality with Kendall Jenner being the leader, okayyyyy. You lost me there Pepsi….

None of these drinks may be as profitable but I guarantee they are a million times better to drink than any sugary beverage in a store or gas station.

While sodas provide sugar with no nutritional benefits, these drinks provide wholesome nutrition.

Green Tea

Green Tea

Tea, fruits, and chocolate are rich in catechins. Green tea is among the best sources of this amazing protein. Catechin is a natural flavonoid compound that is found in plants. Its purpose is to provide antioxidant activity that protects against the development of cancer by preventing the accumulation of dangerous free radical species. Research also supports green tea as an immune booster and improving energy levels.

Calories: 0 Sugar: 0 g

Unsweetened Coconut Water

Unsweetened Coconut Water

If you are trying to replace a sugary workout drink, this is for you. This drink is a perfect replacement for typical sugary sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade. While coconut water still has sugar inside of it, it also has the added benefits of calcium and vitamins B2 and C. The singer Rihanna states that she drinks a lot of coconut water and swears by its hydration and nutrition benefits.

Calories: 53 Sugar: 6.3 g

Kale Juice

Kale Juice

It may not taste like it, but kale is a superfood for a reason. You literally cannot get enough of this. Kale is rich in vitamins (C& K), minerals (iron, copper & magnesium), fiber, and antioxidants. These nutrients are great for blood, bone, and skin health. The best way to make the juice is to buy fresh kale and mix in a juicer of your own.

Calories: 65 Sugar: 0 g

Black Tea

Black Tea

Black tea has a more robust taste than green and mint teas.

It is my personal favorite tea. It is packed with polyphenols and catechins which are natural antioxidants from plants. These have both cancer fighting and anti-inflammatory properties. Of course this tea is caffeine free but still has flavanol compounds in it that are helpful in increasing energy.

Calories: 0 Sugar: 0 g

Milk w/ Chia Seeds

This is one-two combination is on the same level and Durant/Curry or peanut butter/jelly. First you must let the chia seeds soak in the milk for a few hours before drinking it. It tastes amazing when you blend some fruit like peaches or mangos and mix with it.

The chia seeds are pound per pound one of the best sources of protein and fiber while being low in calories. They are also rich in omega-3 fats that are helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Calories: 210 Sugar: 11 g

Unsweetened Almond Milk

Unsweetened Almond Milk

Almond milk has a better nutrition value as regular milk but less cholesterol and saturated fat.  Unlike milk it has vitamin E, manganese, and iron as well.

The only drawback is that there is less protein in almond milk. I recommend getting the unsweetened almond milk, other ones like the chocolate or vanilla milks can have a lot of sugar in them.

Calories: 30 Sugar: 13 g

Cranberry Juice

Cranberries may not be the star of the berry family but they do quite well for themselves. Note: Only drink the 100% juice version! The others are stuffed with more sugar than a candy store. These berries are incredibly tart while having a bitter sweetness to them.

The vibrant color they have is from the antioxidants (phenols and anthocyanidins). They are useful in protecting our DNA from becoming damaged by harmful free radicals, helping to slow the aging process.

Calories: 120 Sugar: 23g

Dark Cocoa Powder w/ Skim Milk

Dark Cocoa Powder Milk

Dark Cocoa (the ones over 70% cocoa) has been shown to improve blood pressure, platelet function, and metabolic function. It is thought that two compounds theobromine and epicatechin work synergistically to give it its cardio protective effects.

I suggest to mix it with skim milk as it tastes just like a Hershey chocolate bar in drink form. But DO NOT add too much sugar or you will ruin the nutrition value of this drink.

Calories: 150 Sugar: 12g

Kefir

probiotic milk Kefir

This is a probiotic milk like drink filled with bacteria (Lactobacillus) that are beneficial for gut health. These choir boys of bacteria aid in digestion, boosting energy, and produce nutrients our body needs to function properly. Kefir is just as if not more beneficial than yogurt. This drink tastes especially good when you add some fresh fruit into it.

Calories: 160 Sugar: 15g

Lemon Water

What is that saying? When you have lemons, you make lemon water… Right?

Bad jokes aside putting a squeeze of lemon or cutting a wedge for your water is something you should try. Lemons are a great source of antioxidants (great for fighting aging and cancer) and vitamin C (important for skin health). Plus it will not cost you any calories at all.

Calories: 0 Sugar: 0

Ginger Tea

I can see why so many people love tea (too a point where they pay for $7 for a cup, yes I know!) It naturally improves energy without having anywhere near the caffeine of coffee. Ginger tea is one of the best types of tea because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects. Anyone who is sick should have a cup or two of this to manage their symptoms.

Calories: 0 Sugar: 0

Studies have shown that the phytochemicals & 6- gingerol found in ginger have a profound effect of preventing prostate cancer in men.

Water w/ Crushed Berries

Water with Crushed Berries

The next time you see that bottle of blueberry lemonade or strawberry banana juice, know it is a nuclear disaster of sugar. You might as well be drinking a can of Coke while you’re at it.

I prefer to use blueberries or blackberries. Crush them and mix them with a little bit of lemon zest for a refreshing beverage that is low in calories and sugar. Meanwhile you are getting fiber from the pulp of the berries and natural antioxidants in vitamins A and C.

Calories: 40 Sugar: 13g

Carrot Juice

Carrot Juice

Did you know that carrots are not only good for the eyes, but are very effective in preventing stroke and other cardiovascular disease? Next time you can tell your doc what’s up about carrots (okay last bad joke for the article haha). Seriously, one study has shown that those who were drinking 16 oz of fresh carrot juice daily had a much lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than the control group.

Beta-carotenes of carrots are antioxidants that increases our total plasma antioxidant capacity. They are also very important in maintaining proper skin health as well.

Calories: 90 Sugar: 11g

Lemongrass Tea

Lemongrass is an herb has been used in medicine, cosmetic, and culinary purposes dating back to early Chinese and African cultures. It has been used typically for the treatment of headaches, stomachaches, diarrhea, and colds.

Calories: 0 Sugar: 0

Plain water

Plain water

You may think I am being funny but this is the GREATEST beverage of all time. All life came from water and all the biological reactions of our body need water. There is a reason we can survive up almost a month without food but not more than 3 days without water. Our body is 60% water, we simply cannot live without it.

In America, too many people are forgetting about drinking their 4-6 glasses of water a day. Instead they drink the same amount in juices, sodas, or artificially sweetened beverages. This is one of the reasons why we are the fattest country in the world with 36.5% of adults obese and 1 of 5 children obese.

Calories: 0 Sugar: 0

Conclusion

If more people would replace the sugary beverages in their diet with these healthier drinks, I bet we would see obesity plummet. These drinks are a great way to start making a healthy change in one’s diet to cut calories and get extra nutrition.

Pick one out and replace your favorite sugary beverage with a choice the list for a few days and see how you like it!

Written by Christian Bramwell, MD Family Medicine Resident at Medical College of Georgia.

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