Water: A Better Beverage
Water is a vital nutrient for the body and staying hydrated plays an important part in staying healthy. Our bodies need water to help with digestion, provide moisture to skin and other tissues, remove toxins from the body, regulate blood circulation and body temperatures, and to transport nutrients and oxygen to the cells throughout the body. Water is a preferred beverage choice because it contains no calories, fat, or cholesterol; it’s also generally inexpensive.
How Much is Needed?
Water is an important nutrient for the body, but everyone’s needs are different. How much water you need depends on body size, gender, age, health status, exercise intensity and if you are pregnant or nursing. Most healthy people meet their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and drinking healthy beverage choices with meals. Drink plenty of water if you are very active, live or work in hot conditions, or if you are an older adult.
Do you know how many calories are in your favorite beverages? Calories from drinks can really add up, so it’s important to read the Nutrition Facts labels on beverage products. Check the serving size and the number of servings in the can, bottle, or container to stay within calorie needs. Limit sugar sweetened beverages such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, lemonade, sweetened iced teas, and juice drinks or cocktails. These beverages aren’t so thirst quenching or hydrating and are often high in calories.
Easy Ways to Make Better Beverage Choices
Take a refillable water bottle with you to work or when you’re running errands.
Drink water with meals and snacks.
Add pizazz to water with a twist of lemon, lime or other fruit, cucumber or mint.
Try seltzer water if you prefer the carbonation of soda.
Make water, low-fat or fat-free milk, or 100% juice an easy option in your home by having ready-to-go containers filled in your refrigerator.
Choose water when eating out. You’ll save money and reduce calories.
Read the label. Check calories, sugar, caffeine, and fat before you drink a beverage.
To ensure your water stays cold and flavorful all day, try freezing herbs and fruits in your ice cubes.
Reduce the juice. Start by filling your cup or water bottle a quarter of the way with juice and fill the rest with water.
Try the following healthy beverage recipes; they are easy to serve anytime.
Flavored Water Recipes Courtesy of Oregon State University Extension
Add 1/2 cucumber
1 gallon water
Preparation: Slice crosswise into thin slices. Leave skin on for color.
12 to 16 strawberries (about 1 pint)
1 gallon water
Preparation: Peel the kiwi. Slice both fruits into thin slices.
Herb (Mint, Basil, Rosemary)
10 small leaves or a small sprig
1 gallon water
Preparation: Tear or crush the leaves to release the flavor.
Wash all fresh fruits, veggies and herbs. Trim away any damaged or bruised areas on produce before adding to water.
Mash the fruit or vegetable to release the most flavor.
Remove citrus slices from plastic containers after 1 hour.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight to allow the most flavoring.
Do not mix batches. Use it up; clean the container; make a fresh batch.
Water will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Fruit Juice Spritzer Courtesy of University of Maryland Extension
2-1/2 cups orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 liter club soda or seltzer water
Mix juices in a pitcher and add club soda.
Stir and serve over ice.
Nutrition Facts: Calories: 70, Fat: 0g, Carbohydrates: 17g, Dietary Fiber: 0g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 0mg. Serves 6 (1 cup) servings.