With 75 percent of Americans chronically dehydrated, according to StatPearls, it’s clear that many of us can benefit from adding an extra drink (or two) into our day. But while we may know that opting for sugary drinks made with artificial ingredients isn’t the best choice, we may have a hard time determining whether other options fit a healthy lifestyle.
If you’re wondering whether drinks that sound “bad” might actually offer some unique health benefits, read on to find out what picks made our list.
Recipe in the photo: Healthy hot chocolate
1. 100% pomegranate juice.
Pomegranate juice is naturally sweet, and while many options on the market have added sugar, you can find some that don’t. A unique feature of 100% pomegranate juice is that it contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to your body over time when you are overly exposed to them. According to the USDA, an 8-ounce serving of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice has as much potassium as a small banana, highlighting just how nutritious this delicious beverage is. And while you’ll see grams of total sugars, those are naturally occurring fruit sugars rather than added sugars.
2. Prebiotic soda
A can of regular soda can contain up to 39 grams of sugar, which exceeds the maximum the American Heart Association recommends adults consume in an entire day! Plus, that classic sugary drink lacks nutrients, like fiber, protein, and micronutrients.
However, some sodas provide the same pleasant fizz and sweet taste, but with far fewer calories and sugar. Olipop Vintage Cola contains just 2 grams of sugar and boasts a whopping 9 grams of fiber (32% of the Daily Value). Since most Americans don’t eat enough fiber each day, including this soda could help people meet their needs and keep their gut healthy, according to the American Society for Nutrition. The fiber provided in Olipop is a source of prebiotics, so drinking it can help fuel the live probiotics that reside in your gut. That said, eating the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is one of the most nutritious ways to ensure your fiber intake.
3. 100% orange juice.
As long as you’re choosing 100 percent orange juice and not an orange-flavored drink made with added sugar, you can expect to reap great health benefits when you drink this classic beverage. Pure orange juice contains vitamin C to help support immune health and is a natural source of folate, thiamin and potassium.
Additionally, 100% orange juice contains a plant compound called hesperidin. Evidence shows hesperidin consumption may be linked to reduced inflammation and blood pressure, according to a 2021 study in the European Journal of Nutrition.
Coffee may be considered a “bad” drink in some circles. And while it’s true that a double-grande frappuccino made with added sugar, cream, and other similar ingredients isn’t the most nutritious choice, a cup of black coffee isn’t just A-OK to drink for most people, either. but they can also offer some impressive benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, increased alertness and improved productivity.
5. Hot chocolate
Enjoying a cozy cup of warm latte and cocoa may sound unhealthy to some, but it’s a surprising nutritional combo. Milk is packed with bone-healthy nutrients and satiating protein. And according to a review from 2022 in FoodsCocoa is rich in antioxidant polyphenols and may help lower blood pressure. When whipping up a cup of cocoa, just make sure you don’t add too much sugar or go overboard on the sweet treats, like marshmallows or peppermint candies.
The bottom line
Drinking plenty of fluids each day can help keep your memory sharp and support your weight management goals, and can help keep headaches at bay. And while drinking plain H2O, infused or sparkling water is the best way to stay hydrated, sometimes a small variety of beverages are just what the doctor ordered. Choosing super sugary or high fat drinks isn’t the most nutritious way to sustain your hydration status. However, some surprising drinks may seem like poor choices, but they can actually be great additions to a balanced and healthy diet. From a few 100% fruit juices to a welcoming cup of cocoa, many beverages pack a punch in the nutrition department and offer some notable health benefits.
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