It’s important to drink water throughout the day. It helps digest food, transport nutrients throughout the body and flush your system of waste.
The problem is water oftentimes gets boring, especially when tempted by your favorite sugary soda or a whipped cream topped caramel macchiato.
With so many choices available nowadays, most people drink a variety of beverages beyond water and don’t realize how many unhealthy calories they are consuming in beverages. As we age, it’s even more important to pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods and drinks we put into our body.
Use the tips and healthy drink recipes below to get the recommended amount of daily water you need, while satisfying your taste buds.
Healthy Beverage Guidelines
Before you start mixing, juicing and blending your own drinks, know the recommended guidelines for healthy beverage consumption. Follow these daily healthy beverage guidelines created by the Beverage Guidance Panel at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition:
- Less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from beverages.
- At least half of your daily fluid should come from water. Tip: tote a water bottle with you to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day.
- About one-third can come from unsweetened coffee or tea. If you flavor your coffee or tea with a lot of sugar, cream or whole milk, then drink less to help manage sugar and fat consumption.
- Low-fat milk can make up another 20 percent. Less is fine, just make sure you get your calcium from another source.
- Only one small glass (4 ounces) of 100% fruit juice a day.
- No more than 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks for men or no more than 1 for women.
- Ideally, zero “diet” drinks made with artificial sweeteners. If you do consume, drink no more than 1 to 2 glasses (8 to 16 ounces) a day.
- Ideally, zero drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup but up to a maximum of 8 ounces per day. Before you choose the sugar, consider that studies link excess fat around the waistline to sugar-sweetened drinks.
Healthy Drinks Other Than Water
Using the healthy guidelines above, mix in these healthy drink alternatives between glasses of water.
Coconut water -- Due to its growing popularity with athletes, there are many brands of coconut water on the market today. Coconut water is an all-natural drink that is relatively low in sugar, typically 40 percent less sugar than sports drinks and vitamin waters. It’s also a great source of natural potassium, which helps your body reach optimum hydration and recovery after exercise.
Low-fat chocolate milk -- Ready-made brands can be packed with sugar, so make your own. Use 1% milk, 3 t. of cocoa powder and 2 T. of a zero-calorie sweetener, if you need a little sweetness
Lemonade -- Make your own to cut the sugar and carbs in ready-made versions. Mix water, fresh-squeezed lemons and ice. Add naturally-sweet fruits, such as raspberries or strawberries (or a sprinkle of zero-calorie sweetener) to offset the sour power.
Stelzer water -- There are many brands of all natural, no sugar Stelzer waters on the shelves today. Or, buy plain carbonated water and add grated ginger to create a ginger ale.
Healthy Homemade Drink Recipes
10 Best Flavored Water Combinations
Fill up a pitcher of water and toss in one of these 10 fruit/veggie and herb water combinations recommended by 52 Kitchen Adventures. Let it sit in the fridge and steep for a few hours to overnight before serving.
- Cucumbers with lemons and mint
- Cucumbers and rosemary
- Lemons and Lavender
- Lemons and basil
- Lime and mint
- Lime and ginger
- Strawberries and mint
- Strawberries and basil
- Blackberries and thyme
- Lemon and a pinch of cayenne
Blueberry Lemon Mint Water
This homemade blueberry water is extremely tasty when blueberries are in season.
1 large pitcher of water
10-12 chopped mint leaves
1 cup blueberries (preferably fresh or frozen)
2 sliced lemons
1 sliced peach or nectarine
Throw everything together in a pitcher and let it steep overnight. Mix it up by trying other favorite fresh fruits when in season.
Peach Thyme Iced Tea
1/2 cup honey (plus 2 tbsp)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
8 cup water (2 cups at room temperature, 6 cups boiling)
6 cups fresh or frozen peaches, sliced
10 regular-sized black tea bags
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
9 ounces bourbon, optional
Thyme sprigs and lemon slices, for garnish
Place honey, chopped thyme, room-temperature water and 4 cups of the peaches in a pan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer, pressing solids to extract juices.
Place tea bags and remaining 2 cups peaches in a 3-quart heatproof pitcher. Add boiling water; let steep 15 minutes. Discard tea bags. Stir in lemon juice, peach syrup and bourbon, if desired. Serve over ice. Garnish with thyme sprigs and lemon slices.
Serve this cool and delicious drink when the grandkids come to visit.
8 cups 1-inch seedless watermelon cubes, frozen
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
Mint sprigs and watermelon wedge, for garnish
Process watermelon, lime juice and honey in a blender until smooth. Serve over ice. Garnish with mint sprigs and watermelon wedge.
Vanilla Banana Milkshake
A banana vanilla milkshake may not be exactly thirst quenching, but it can be a healthy drink alternative to calorie-rich ice cream and frozen coffee drinks.
2 medium bananas, sliced and frozen. (The riper the better!)
1 cup milk - use skim to cut calories
4 tsp vanilla extract
Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy. Pour into glasses and serve immediately. ** Add a spoonful of peanut butter for a protein kick and more deliciousness.
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