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Healthy Beverages

Most people recognize, to varying extents of course, that what they eat (or don't eat) impacts their overall health. And, because of this recognition, many people try to eat more fruits and vegetables, less saturated fat and cholesterol, and cut out junk foods. However, it is important to remember that what you drink (or don't drink) also impacts your health. If you are careful to eat well, but drink excessive amounts of soda, fruit beverages, coffee and black tea, and/or alcohol you may not be as healthy as you could be. That is because such beverages contain a variety of ingredients that, when taken in excess, are not "health-giving", such as refined or artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and phosphoric acid (in the case of carbonated beverages). So, if you are looking for something to quench your thirst on a warm day, whet your lips with the following "healthy" beverages:
  1. Water: You can't go wrong with water. While your water intake needs will vary from day to day, try to consume at approximately 40-64 ounces per day. Space your intake over several hours, and avoid drinking excessive amounts of water immediately before or during meal times, as it will decrease your appetite and may interfere with digestion.
  2. 100% fruit juices: Fruit juice can be healthy when it is 100% fruit juice, with no added sweeteners. But, keep in mind, that juice can pack a poweful punch in terms of calories, so it may not be wise to consume a lot of juice, even 100% fruit juice, if you are trying to drop a few pounds. To take full advantage of the nutrients available in the fruit, press or juice the fruit at home, and consume it immediately. If you want to buy fruit juice at a grocery store, keep in mind that 100% fruit juice is harder to find than you might think, as many fruit beverages sold in supermarkets contain only a small percentage (usually less than 10%) of actual fruit juice. For a special occassion, instead of serving soda, make a refreshing and healthy punch by combining sparkling water with 100% cranberry juice, ice and orance slices in a large bowl.
  3. Iced herbal tea: Instead of regular iced tea, treat yourself to a cool drink of herbal iced tea. Many herbs are rich in powerful antioxidants, which help the body fight off disease. Peppermint tea is wonderful when served cold. Brew the tea stronger than you would if you were planning to serve the tea hot, then add ice and a sprig of mint or a slice of lemon. Or, try a combination of various herbs: chamomile, hibiscus flower, lemon grass, orange peel, rose hips, and strawberry leaf.

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