Food, Farming and Nutrition
Food, Farming and Nutrition
Six Healthy Beverages
Food is medicine—and so are beverages. Here are six of the healthiest drinks to reach for next time you’re thirsty.
Proper hydration is key for cognitive performance and mental health. In a study of schoolchildren, more than half were in a state of dehydration at the beginning of the school day. The children were given tests to measure their cognitive performance, and were retested once they were given glasses of water. Almost each area measured, including happiness, visual attention, and visual search, improved after the water was consumed.
Sparkling water could be an option for those having a hard time making the switch from soda, and it can also help relieve pain, bloating and nausea (dyspepsia) as well as constipation.
Green tea is one of the best beverages for cancer prevention, and it has also been shown to improve artery function, reducing the risk for heart disease.
As people age, people often experience a decline in endothelial function (the thin, protective lining of cells). This decline is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and more. However, a decline in endothelial function is not inevitable, and in a study of Chinese adults (who followed a traditional Chinese diet, including green tea), researchers found that Chinese adults were less susceptible than white Australians to endothelial dysfunction and that the older Chinese adults had the arterial function of Australians in their 20s.
Adding lemon was found to increase the levels of antioxidants, which help protect the cells against oxidative damage throughout the body.
In a 2010 study of more 283 beverages, hibiscus tea was the highest in antioxidants.
Hibiscus leaves can be tart, and this herbal tea can be “zingy.” One way to sweeten hibiscus tea is to make a version of the Mexican drink agua fresca, which adds pureed watermelon and strawberries to steeped and cooled hibiscus tea.
Water with Apple Cider Vinegar
Studies have shown that consuming vinegar with a meal reduces the spike in blood sugar, insulin, and triglycerides. It also helps with feelings of satiety (feeling full after a meal). A Japanese study showed that vinegar intake can reduce body weight and body fat mass. To add vinegar to your water, simply add one or two tablespoons to an 8-ounce glass. Apple cider vinegar shouldn’t be consumed alone, as it could burn your esophagus.
White tea comes from the same tea plant as green, oolong, and black tea. White tea is the least processed tea and has the mildest flavor profile; the leaves and buds are simply steamed and dried. Although white tea doesn’t have as many antioxidants as green tea, adding lemon more than triples its antioxidant levels.
An Oregon State University study showed that the amount of cancer protection from tea may be related to its level of processing, which may make white tea even better at fighting cancer than green tea. In a study on green vs. white tea and common carcinogens in cooked meat, green tea reduced DNA damage and mutations by half, but white tea dropped the levels by nearly 100%.
Coffee has been a controversial beverage when it comes to health, and many factors including sweeteners, artificial flavorings, and other chemicals can cancel out the health benefits of coffee. However, coffee is beneficial for enhancing mood, reaction time, mental function, and circulation, and may lower the risk of dementia, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancers. Coffee is one of the top sources of antioxidants in the western diet. Studies have also shown that coffee may also be protective of human DNA.
Honeycutt, E. (2019, December 3). The 6 healthiest beverages you should be drinking now. Food Network Revolution. https://foodrevolution.org/blog/healthiest-beverages