When you think diet drink do you think diet fizzy drinks? Diet fizzy drinks are certainly diet drinks in the sense that drinking them doesn't add calories, but they also rank low on my list of best drinks for a healthy diet. Ultimately, a healthy diet includes both what you eat, and what you drink.
Women have to be especially judicious when it comes to their diets. They are more susceptible to osteoporosis than men, in fact, four times more likely to get this bone-weakening condition.
Here are the 10 best drinks to maintain your weight and your health.
1. Water: More than half the weight of the human body is water. Water is necessary for digestion, for elimination (and to prevent constipation), and for regulating your body temperature via perspiration.
The recommendation is still eight 200 ml glasses daily. Water keeps your skin clear and helps take the edge off your appetite Sip on cool water throughout the day. It helps.
2. Sparkling water: A little fizz in carbonated water can satisfy your craving for something sweet, and since there are no artificial sweeteners or ingredients added, it's better than diet soda. Some mineral waters contain extra sodium; read the nutrition information label to avoid it.
3. Fruit juice: An occasional glass of 100% fruit juice is a nice treat. Freshly squeezed orange juice or grapefruit juice is delicious. Calcium-fortified juice provides extra bone protection.
If you're watching calories, then instead of full-strength juice (which has more than 100 calories per 200 ml glass), add a splash of fresh-squeezed juice to sparkling water.
4. Pomegranate juice: This new kid on the block is bursting with vitamins A, C, E and folic acid, giving it three times more antioxidant power than green tea or red wine.
Recent studies have boosted sales, showing that it may help reduce bad cholesterol levels and the risk of developing heart disease, osteoarthritis and some cancers.
5. Milk: Studies show skimmed or semi-skimmed milk is helpful in losing and maintaining weight, and is an excellent source of calcium and protein (2 to 3 servings daily are recommended as part of a balanced diet). If you don't like milk or you're lactose-intolerant, enjoy calcium-fortified unsweetened soya or rice milk instead.
Try a smoothie: Blend a cup of semi-skimmed milk with a small carton of low fat plain yoghurt with a cup of blueberries and crushed ice.
6. Tomato juice: Tomato juice (or any other vegetable juice) has fewer calories compared to fruit juice, only 25 calories and about 85 milligrams of sodium per 100 ml serving.
Tomato juice is a great source for lycopene, a potent antioxidant that protects against disease.
7. Tea: Hot or iced tea, especially black tea and to lesser extent green tea, contains flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that make blood cells less prone to clotting, and may protect against disease.
Instead of whole milk, use semi-skimmed or skimmed milk and just a little sweetener.
Note: Black tea and green tea are caffeinated (70 mg/200 ml and 35 mg/200 ml respectively).
8. Herbal teas: Made from flowers, herbs, fruits and spices, a cup of herbal tea is relaxing and soothing and caffeine-free. Don't fall for the weight-loss claims displayed on many teas, but instead buy commercially sealed teabags from a well-known manufacturer, such as Twinings or Lipton.
Camomile, peppermint, rosehips or orange blossom are some of my favourites.
9. Coffee: Phew. I'm certainly relieved that recent research points to the health benefits of coffee. I enjoy the quick wake-up and alertness a fresh cup of java provides, and recent research also shows coffee is a good source of antioxidants, in both regular and decaf coffee.
But, caffeine is a stimulant, and drinking too many cups can be addictive and have counterproductive side effects. Limit your coffee to one or two cups daily: one 200 ml cup of brewed coffee has about 80 to 135 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the brew-strength.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you are sensitive, make your coffee intake a morning routine, and switch to decaf in the afternoon.
Don't add saturated fat (cream) or sugar in excess. A little hot semi-skimmed milk makes coffee taste even better.
10. Diet fizzy drinks: I've saved this diet drink for last. Diet fizzy drinks contain a variety of artificial sweeteners, and in moderation are safe. However, they do contain other artificial ingredients and phosphorus, and a high phosphorus intake, if not balanced by a good intake of calcium, can promote loss of bone.
Watch out for caffeine in diet fizzy drinks. Diet Coke has 45 milligrams in a regular sized can. Sugar-free Red Bull has 80 milligrams. Read labels.
For good measure
Alcohol: Research shows potential benefits for moderate wine and alcohol consumption against heart disease and stroke, but the benefits are far outweighed by the risk of drinking excessively, especially for women.
If you don't currently drink, don't start, and get your antioxidants from fruit and vegetables. Limit alcohol to one (women) or two (men) daily. A drink is half a pint of beer, a small glass of wine or a measure of spirits. Always use diet mixers.
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