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What’s the Best Beverage Choice?

What is your best beverage choice? You probably guessed the answer: The absolute best beverage choice is water. It has many economical and health benefits that help promote this rank.

Water is a free option that is readily available pretty much everywhere. When you go to a restaurant, it is always the least expensive drink on the menu. Water is not only cost effective, but it also is very healthful. It is calorie-free and is used for many major processes in the body.

The recommendations for water intake are in place so the body receives enough fluid to maintain normal functioning. Drinking water is the easiest, least costly and best way to quench thirst.


Sugar-sweetened Beverages

Although water is best, many other drink options, including those that are sugar-sweetened, are available. Some examples of these kinds of drinks are pop, juice and Gatorade. These are all sources of liquids that can help increase fluid intake, but they come with added sugars.

Added sugars are fine in moderation and if consumed mindfully. However, we easily can become unaware of what we are putting into our bodies.

Pop, juice and other sweetened beverages usually contain large amounts of added sugars. Juice and Gatorade especially are viewed as healthful options, but in reality, they are full of excess sugar that is not needed in the diet. Added sugars contribute to the increase in calories in the drink.

Research has shown that these types of beverages, when drunk too often, increase the risk of becoming overweight and developing certain diseases such as obesity. Although these beverages have some adverse health risks, drinking them occasionally and in appropriate amounts is OK. A tip is to look at the food label to be conscious of the amount of added sugars being put into the body.


Sugar-free Beverages

Another beverage option that has been gaining in popularity is sugar-free or diet drinks. They are popular because they have been promoted as being a healthful option.

Even though they do not contain added sugars or calories, determining if they truly are healthful is difficult. No significant amount of research is available to say whether the sugar substitutes have any beneficial or harmful effects.

As a consumer, be aware that these drinks may be a good selection only every once in a while. For someone who is trying to cut back on sugar-sweetened beverages, trying the sugar-free options as a substitute may be useful.

Overall, not enough is known about sugar-free drinks to be able to say that they are a great choice. What is important to keep in mind is that drinking these beverages only occasionally is the best way to be sure no harm is done to your health.


Tips for Choosing Your Beverage

Read the nutrition label.

Make sure to pay attention to how many calories and added sugars are in the drink. Try to pick the option with the least amount.


Drink plenty of water.

Find out the specific water recommendations for you and aim to drink that amount. Try drinking a glass of water with every meal to help increase your intake. Carrying a water bottle also would be helpful to ensure that you have access to water at all times.


Listen to your body.

If you are thirsty, the body is telling you that you need to drink more. Choose the option with the highest water content to combat dehydration.


Choose a variety of beverages.

Your best option is to drink a wide variety of drinks. Water is essential for health, but milk and juice also are healthful options. Milk contains water, calcium and vitamin D, which is all-important for the body and bone health. Fruit juice also can be a good drink option. The key, though, is to pick the juice that is 100% real fruit juice.


By Caitlin Hexum, NDSU Dietetics Intern

Reviewed by: Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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