5 hacks for buying healthy beverages

5 hacks for buying healthy beverages

Sarah Henes PhD, RDN, LD

Sarah Henes PhD, RDN, LD has been a Registered Dietitian for over 26 years, in clinical and community nutrition

Article in collaboration with: Dr. Stan (Stan Cohen MD)

Healthy beverages are an important part of maintaining a balanced diet. By making smart choices at the store, you can quench your thirst and provide your body with essential nutrients. Here are 5 tips for selecting healthy beverages while keeping in mind the you and your family's needs; and we have a Buying Healthy Beverages video as part of our Grocery Shopping series that provides even more.

  1. Water is the best thirst quencher: When it comes to staying hydrated, water is your best friend. It has no calories, sugar, or additives. Drinking water throughout the day helps regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, and support you and your family's overall health. Opt for plain water whenever possible. If you want some flavor, add a squeeze of fresh lemon, other fruits or a few slices of cucumber.
  2. Choose nutritious milk: Milk is an excellent source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for growing strong bones and teeth. Look for low-fat or fat-free options like skim milk or 1% milk. If you prefer non-dairy alternatives, go for fortified soy, pea or oat milk, which also provide calcium and vitamin D. Avoid nut milk-like beverages, like almond, because they're low in protein, avoid flavored milk that often contains added sugars, and always check the label for any unwanted ingredients.
  3. 100% Fruit juices: While fruit juices can be a source of vitamins, they are high in sugar (believe it or not, they often have just as much or more sugar than a soda). If your family likes juice, make sure it is 100% fruit juice without added sugars or artificial flavors. Keep in mind that it's better to eat whole fruits rather than drink fruit juice, as whole fruits provide more fiber. Limit your juice intake and enjoy it as an occasional treat instead of a daily beverage. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends specific amounts for toddlers through teens, and none at all for infants. And consider diluting the juice with water to make it healthier. 
  4. Smart Choices with Soft Drinks: Soft drinks like soda are often high in sugar and provide little nutritional value. It's best to limit your intake of these beverages. Instead, choose healthier alternatives such as sparkling water, flavored water with no added sugars, or unsweetened iced tea. Read the labels carefully to avoid hidden sugars or artificial sweeteners that may be present in some flavored drinks.
  5. Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks: Sports drinks can be useful during intense physical activities of over an hour, but they are not necessary for everyday hydration. Energy drinks should be avoided altogether due to their high caffeine and sugar content. Water is usually sufficient to keep you hydrated during regular exercise. If you're participating in intense physical activity for over an hour, stay hydrated and consult a health professional to determine if a sports drink is needed.

Conclusion: Being mindful of your beverage choices while shopping can make a big difference in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Opt for water as your primary drink, choose milk or non-dairy alternatives with added nutrients, enjoy 100% fruit juices in moderation, and be cautious with soft drinks and energy drinks. By making informed choices like those here and on our Healthy Beverages video, you'll nourish and support your family's overall well-being.

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