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We know milk supposedly does a body good, but what effects do your other favorite beverages have on your health?
“It’s important to know how the beverages you consume affect your health, because many contain significant calories and may contribute to weight gain,” explains Linda Story, a registered dietician with Mercy San Juan Medical Center. With that said, many of your favorite thirst quenchers offer a bevy of benefits. With a few tips from our expert dieticians, it’s easy to stay hydrated and reap the rewards.
The Drink: Water
The Benefits: “Our bodies depend on water to regulate temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, carry away waste products and more,” Story says. That’s why it’s vital to stay hydrated, although intake levels vary among individuals. “For healthy people who live in temperate climates, the Dietary Reference Intakes from the Institute of Medicine recommend a total daily beverage intake of 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women,” Story says. What’s more, “dehydration can leave you feeling and looking lousy. Not [drinking] enough water decreases muscle function and exaggerates the appearance of dry and wrinkled skin,” explains Harmony Boeh, a registered dietitian at Roseville Health and Wellness Center.
Calories (8 oz.): Zero
The Drink: Coffee
The Benefits: “When consumed in moderation, the caffeine in plain coffee provides relief from mental and physical fatigue and increases mental alertness,” says Sarah Baracco, a registered dietitian at Kaiser Permanente in the Health Education Department. And its benefits go beyond that; it’s high in antioxidants, especially when freshly brewed, and it has been linked to lower incidences of type 2 diabetes, as well as decreased incidences of heart disease, stroke, abnormal heart rhythms, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, gallstones, gastrointestinal cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer, she says.
Calories (8 oz.): 2-7 calories for black coffee without cream or sugar.
The Drink: Tea
The Benefits: In addition to soothing a sickie’s sore throat, tea’s antioxidant compounds may fight free radicals associated with cancer, heart disease and diabetes, Boeh says. “Tea consumption has also been linked to better weight control, lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, and improved exercise endurance through streamlined fat metabolism,” she says.
Calories (8 oz.): Zero
The Drink: Wine
The Benefits: Need something to toast? How about your own health, thanks to the benefits of wine. “In moderation, various epidemiologic studies in recent years have indicated that light to moderate (one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men) wine consumption can lower the risks of age-dependent cognitive decline and/or dementia, including Alzheimer’s,” Baracco says.
Calories (5 oz.): Red wine has about 130 calories; white wine about 120.
The Drink: Beer
The Benefits: While excessive consumption of beer can create serious health risks, beer in moderation has its perks. Baracco says beer has been found to provide benefits for the heart, kidneys and bones – and for reducing stress. “Beer is rich in dietary silicon – an important mineral used in the formation and development of strong bones. Beer also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, as it dilates the blood vessels and thus reduces pressure on the heart,” she says. Just remember: The key to these benefits is drinking in moderation.
Calories (12 oz.): Regular beer has about 150 calories; light beer about 100.
7 Tips for Staying Hydrated
Submitted by Linda Story, a registered dietician at Mercy San Juan Medical Center
- Drink something BEFORE you get thirsty.
- Carry water with you during work hours and when you are away from home for an extended time.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Watermelon is 90-percent water. Oranges, grapefruit and melons – like cantaloupe and honeydew – are also good sources. Vegetables, though not as full of water as fruit, can also provide a water source.
- Alcohol is a dehydrator so limit your intake. If you do drink, aim for a one-to-one ratio with water.
- If you don't like the taste of plain water, add slices of lemon, oranges, cucumber or any favorite fruit/veggie/herb to provide a refreshing taste without calories.
- Fluids such as low fat milk also provide vitamins and minerals.
- 100-percent fruit juices (without added sugar) can also be hydrating. And if diluted with water lower their calorie content.