Healthy Summer Beverages

Summer is here!  Now is the time to stock your refrigerator with beverages to quench the thirst of active family members.  Choose wisely, though.  The beverages we drink can have a big impact on our health so it is important to make healthy choices from the wide variety of choices at the grocery store.

Limit Sweetened Beverages
People are drinking more and more sweetened drinks such as soda, juice, Kool-Aid and sports drinks.  These beverages contain a lot of calories and have little or no nutritional benefit.  Sugary drinks increase our risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.  Sweet drinks also affect dental health, causing dental cavities and damaging, tooth enamel.  And because kids are drinking more sweetened beverages than milk, many are getting too little calcium for growing teeth and bones.

You can have an impact on the health of your family members by choosing healthy beverages and limiting sweetened beverages.

Many people think if the name of a beverage has the word "fruit" in it, it must be healthy.  But fruit juice drinks, fruit juice beverages, and fruit juice cocktails are really only a lot of sugar water with a small amount of fruit juice.  Many of these fruit drinks have more in them than a can of soda.  Even 100 percent juice has a lot of sugar.

When choosing beverages for you and your family, read the labels on containers carefully to see how much sugar the products contain.  Take a look at the comparisons below:

Drink Serving Size Amount of Sugar
Soda 8-ounce cup 26 grams
Fruit punch or fruit drink 8-ounce cup 30 grams
Fruit juice cocktail 8-ounce cup 34 grams
100% juice (no sugar added) 8-ounce cup 26 grams

What are the most healthy beverages?
Water should be the beverage you and your family members drink most of the time.  Water quenches your thirst and rehydrates your body.  And when it comes from the water faucet at home, it costs almost nothing. 

Milk is an excellent choice, too.  It is a key source of Calcium and Vitamin D for both children and adults.  Low-fat milk and non-fat milk are the best choices because they have fewer calories and fat.

How Much Do Children Need?

If we want children to be healthy, this is what they should be drinking each day:

             Milk -- 2 (8-ounce) cups  (Serve low-fat milk to children over 2 years old)
             100% juice -- 1 (6-ounce or 3/4 cup) cup
             Water -- as much as the child wants

For recipes ideas for making your own healthy and refreshing beverages this summer, check out these recipes!

Cantaloupe Cooler
Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast Shake
Fruit Slush
Summer Breeze Smoothies

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© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall