If you’re a soda drinker, you know the feeling — when the sugary sweetness of a cold pop hits your tongue, you feel like your taste buds are singing. But as satisfying as that moment can be, it comes with some glaring health risks associated with regularly drinking sugary and carbonated drinks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cavities. It is also linked to an increased risk of kidney disease, heart disease, gout, and other chronic health conditions. You may think, “But I don’t drink that much soda!” But even moderate consumption of sugary drinks can pose a severe risk to your health.
Fortunately, plenty of healthier beverages are available to provide a delicious taste without the added sugar and other unhealthy elements. These drinks are formulated with various combinations of natural flavors and other healthy ingredients that help to promote good health. They replenish the body with vital vitamins and minerals while also boosting energy.
Besides, the packaging of these drinks is usually made from recyclable or compostable materials, keeping in mind the environment and sustainability. Many brands are now using an efficient bottling beverages process to reduce wastage and ensure that the products are packaged using recyclable materials. This advanced manufacturing process also helps keep drinks free from pathogens and harmful contaminants, preserve their optimal flavor, and give them a longer shelf life.
That said, beverages are an essential part of our lives, and with healthier options now available, it’s easier than ever to make a healthy choice when choosing what to drink. Here’s a list of the top five healthy, natural and organic drinks that taste like pure refreshments.
Rich in electrolytes and minerals, coconut water is an excellent alternative to sugary sodas and energy drinks. It has a naturally sweet taste and contains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other nutrients that help hydrate your body. These essential nutrients also help support your immune system and improve digestion.
You can buy coconut water in the store or make your own at home by blending the flesh of a ripe coconut with some cold water. Make sure to strain it before drinking to remove any chunks of coconut.
Bonus Tip: Add a pinch of salt or honey to your coconut water for even more flavor. You can add freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice for a citrus twist.
If any beverage can be considered a true “superfood,” it’s the green smoothie. Not only is it packed with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, but it’s also incredibly versatile and can be made with various fruits and greens.
You can buy ready-to-blend frozen smoothie packs at the grocery store or make your own using healthy smoothie recipes, available online. When blending your smoothie, start with a base (usually almond milk, coconut water, or plain water), add your favorite fruits and vegetables, and mix everything in a blender. Adding greens like spinach, kale, or chard can boost your smoothie’s nutrients.
You can also experiment with your smoothie flavors by adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger; a scoop of natural protein powder for an extra energy boost; or a tablespoon of nut butter for some added creaminess. And if you’re looking for an extra-indulgent treat, mix in a few tablespoons of dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs.
Green tea has been around for centuries and is a good source of antioxidants. The leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are the main ingredient, lightly steamed and dried before brewing in hot water. The result is a refreshing beverage with low caffeine levels and high antioxidants, which may help protect the body from disease, boost metabolism, reduce inflammation, and even lower cholesterol. It has a slightly bitter yet refreshing taste and can be enjoyed as an iced tea on hot days or added to various recipes for an extra flavor boost.
Green tea is also great for boosting energy and focus, which can be helpful when studying or doing other tasks that require concentration. It is also a great beverage option for those seeking weight loss, as it can help you feel fuller for longer and aid digestion. Additionally, green tea has polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that can fight free radicals.
Kombucha is a fermented tea full of probiotics, antioxidants, and vitamins that can help boost immunity, improve digestion, and aid in detoxification. This fizzy, slightly sour beverage also helps promote gut health, support a healthy metabolism and weight management, and improve skin health.
Kombucha is often flavored with fruits, herbs, and spices such as ginger or mint, giving it additional flavor complexity and nutritional benefits. The traditional kombucha recipe calls for sugar, tea, and a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast), all combined and allowed to ferment for up to two weeks. The result is a lightly effervescent, slightly sweet drink with a hint of vinegar. You can drink kombucha alone, add it to smoothies or cocktails, or use it as a vinegar replacement in salad dressings and marinades.
Many people confuse sparkling water with soda, but the two differ significantly in nutritional value. Sparkling water is plain water infused with carbon dioxide. It has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, making it a refreshing alternative to plain water. This refreshing beverage is also high in minerals, including magnesium, calcium, and potassium, essential for healthy bones, muscles, and nerve functioning.
Although sparkling water does not contain caffeine, some brands add natural flavors, such as fruit or herbs, which can provide additional health benefits. It is an excellent choice for those looking to switch up their hydration routine, considering its refreshing, bubbly taste without added sugars and artificial sweeteners. However, it is essential to note that sparkling water is not calorie-free, so it may not be the right choice for those watching their calorie intake.
Whether you’re a health-conscious individual or a good drink lover, there are viable alternatives to sugary beverages that can provide the same refreshment and energy. Healthier drinks offer a variety of flavors and benefits that can make them an excellent option for people of all ages. Not only are they free from added sugar and calories, but many contain natural ingredients that provide essential vitamins and minerals and an energy boost.
Some popular healthier drink options include coconut water, green smoothies, kombucha, green tea, and sparkling water. These refreshing and flavorful beverages can keep you hydrated and energized without any drawbacks associated with sugary beverages and synthetic energy drinks.