Up to 60% of the human body is made of water, which makes hydration critical to supporting healthy functioning and life. In fact, it is estimated that the body can survive as long as three weeks without food, but only three or four days without water.
Everyone knows that water is the best beverage for rehydration, as it has no calories and helps prevent dehydration, constipation, and kidney stones, among other health conditions. Also, drinking water can help reduce the tendency to take in too many calories by contributing to a feeling of fullness.
Plus, water is cheap, easily accessible and simple to carry with you. But for some people, it can get boring if you are longing for a little flavor. Of course, you can add some taste with lemon, lime, cucumber or orange slices, or mint. But if you’re looking for other healthy beverages to add some variety to your hydration, we’ve compiled some delicious options that will keep you sipping happy.
Note – in our research, beverages such as sports drinks, energy drinks and smoothies were not recommended because they typically have high sugar and high calorie counts. That doesn’t mean, of course, that they can’t be an occasional option as part of a nutritious, well balanced diet.
- Coffee – Surprised by this one? Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, liver disease and heart disease. The key is to drink it only in moderation, and without lots of extras, like cream, sugar, flavors/syrups and more. However, if you aren’t a coffee drinker already, don’t start just because it can be good for you.
- Tea – Whether hot or iced, unsweetened tea is the best option, and black and green varieties have multiple health benefits, including protection against stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer. Herbal teas, like chamomile and lemongrass, also are nutritious choices.
- Milk – Not just for kids, milk is loaded with protein, vitamin D, calcium and potassium. Plus, it stabilizes blood sugar, and skim or low-fat versions decrease calories and fat. You also can choose from almond, soy, lactose-free versions, and even chocolate milk as a periodic treat.
- Hot chocolate – Who knew that hot chocolate boosts the production of serotonin, which can help regulate mood? It’s also filled with polyphenols, which are antioxidants that contribute to cardiovascular health.
- Orange juice – Orange juice is a great source of Vitamin C, which enhances immune function and can lower the risk of cataracts and cancer. Try versions with added calcium to increase nutrient intake. Enjoy in moderation due to its high sugar content, and to cut calories, dilute juice with some water.
- Low-sodium tomato juice – Sip this rich source of lycopene, which can decrease the risk of multiple types of cancer, including lung, breast and stomach.
- Coconut water – Though coconut water has naturally occurring sugars, it also provides key electrolytes – potassium and sodium – which help maintain fluid and blood volume.
- Sparkling water or seltzer – A heathier choice than soda, sparkling water and seltzer deliver tasty carbonation and flavor. Choose sparkling water without added sugars.
- Kombucha – A fermented drink with black tea, sugar and yeast, kombucha has probiotics and B vitamins, and is said to aid in digestion, reduce high blood pressure and enhance the immune system.
- Red wine – If you’re not a wine drinker, no need to start. But studies show that antioxidants in red wine can increase HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol). Limit yourself to no more than one glass a few times per week.