The verdict is clear: drinking large amounts of soda and other related sugar-laden drinks are clinically-proven to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other chronic illnesses as a result of their consumption.
Thing is, it’s hard to avoid the enticing appeal and ubiquity of these beverages, which can be found everywhere. Pair it with the endless TV commercials, the convenience of fast food meals that usually come with a tall soda, and you have an obesity epidemic waiting to happen – oh wait, it already did.
But there are so many alternatives to just soda, energy drinks, and “juice” drinks that are laden with all sorts of sweeteners and preservatives that just cannot be healthy for you – you just need to know which ones to look at.
Not only are these beverages beneficial to your health – they will also help you break from the routine of boring old water without falling off the healthy living wagon.
Green tea has always been revered in Asian and other tea-drinking cultures for thousands of years, and for good reason: green tea is rich in herbs and polyphenols that reduce inflammation and prevent and fight free radicals that contribute to cancer and cardiovascular ailments.
Additionally, green tea is thought to improve brain function thanks to its caffeine content. The best part? Green tea’s caffeine content is less than coffee, and its effect isn’t as abrupt as coffee is – it’s a gentle, lilting kind of stimulation that is rich in trace minerals and amino acids.
We’re not talking about your calorie- and sugar-saturated Starbucks coffee-blended frappe – we’re talking about the real deal: your usual cup of joe. While its cousin, tea, has received the lion’s share of the plaudits as far as health benefits go, coffee has just as much health benefits as tea does.
Central to coffee’s health benefits is its caffeine jolt that keeps us awake, in addition to its rich antioxidant content. Similar to tea, its antioxidant content is thought to lower the risk of heart disease, thanks to its vasodilatory properties that help improve blood flow and metabolism.
Fun fact: did you know that the average Finn drinks 91 gallons of coffee every year? That’s over 70 gallons more than the average consumption of coffee per each American (18.5 gallons). They must be on to something.
Turmeric tea (Golden Milk)
The use of turmeric is exponentially rising all over the world – not least to the hype it has received among the health nuts. But it has always been used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, respectively, for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its antioxidant content.
There are as many ways you can incorporate turmeric in your beverages as there are benefits, but the most popular way is by boiling it into a tea. Turmeric tea is known to help arthritis sufferers, prevent cancers, boost your immune system, and lower cholesterol altogether. If that’s not reason enough to start replacing your soda for turmeric tea, we don’t know what will.
Coconut water, like turmeric, has made the rounds based on the strength of the hype it receives – it’s in fashion. But trust us when we say that there is nothing more refreshing and tastier than fresh coconut water straight from the source – and not just because of how refreshing and hydrating it is.
Coconut water is packed with nutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and calcium, and can help prevent diabetes and kidney stones, as well as promote a healthy cardiovascular system. That’s not mentioning its electrolyte content, which keeps you properly hydrated.
Pomegranate juice – the all-natural kind – is one of the most nutritious beverages you can find on shelves anywhere, not to mention delicious. It packs quite a punch when it comes to antioxidants, which help prevent the usual slew of ailments such as cancer, inflammation, and heart disease.
Note: make sure that you are getting 100% pure pomegranate juice, as there are some “juice drinks” that might contain refined sugars or corn syrups, which you will want to avoid. Settle for nothing.
If juice is your thing, you can’t go wrong with apple cider, especially if it is in season. Apple cider is unprocessed, unsweetened (containing only the natural sugars from the apples from whence it came), and unfiltered, making it an ideal candidate for the perfect drink given the fact that no preservatives and sweeteners are added.
Furthermore, apple cider contains flavonoids that prevent free radicals from causing damage, and aid against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Lastly, it is also rich in fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system as well as keeps you full.
If you’re not a wellness junkie, then kombucha may sound new to you. Kombucha is a fermented tea that is brewed from bacteria and yeast, and is a delicious drink to boot. Its adherents are mad about it, and for good reason: it is rich in probiotics as fermented foods do, and these probiotics promote good digestive health.
Additionally, kombucha is thought to improve your mental health, promote better lung health, as well as keep your heart and liver healthy. Plus, there are usually 25-30 calories in a bottle of kombucha, so you can drink to your heart’s content – just make sure that you read the ingredients to ensure that there are no other sweeteners or preservatives added.