Eating Lighter, Eating Smarter – Beverages

Even more than food, beverages are around us all day long. Many people need a shot of caffeine to help them wake up in the morning. The omnipresence of coffee shops, like Starbucks®, speaks volumes. While caffeine can be addictive, there is no scientific evidence that moderate coffee consumption causes health problems, although heart patients should discuss the issue with their doctors.

The Calorie Content of
Beverages Is Often Underestimated

Of more serious concern are certain milk drinks, like caffe latte, mocha and cappuccino, not because they contain hazardous substances, but because milk, especially whole milk, half & half and cream, contains high amounts of calories and fat. If you enjoy any of these on a regular basis, you may want to switch to the low-fat or non-fat versions. Milk by itself is a good source of protein and calcium, and especially growing children can benefit from drinking milk.

Sodas are another matter altogether. They are very popular and they are cheap. The problem is that most sodas contain plenty of sugar, which can contribute to weight gain. Moreover, the phosphorus in carbonated drinks is known to affect bone density, which can lead to weakening of the bone structure over time.

Fruit- and vegetable juices are widely considered to be healthy and nutritious. But that is not the whole picture. Many commercially produced fruit- and vegetable drinks contain high amounts of added sugar and sodium. The healthiest choices would be the ones you make yourself at home with the help of a blender. Fruit juices can also elevate your blood sugar level, so keep track of how much you drink.

Alcoholic beverages are all to be consumed in moderation. Some studies have suggested that red wine may have certain health effects for the heart. The potential benefits come from an antioxidant called resveratrol, which is found in the skins of red wine grapes. This substance may be able to reduce the likelihood of blood clotting. Of, course, you can get the same results from eating red grapes or taking aspirin – but where is the fun in that?

The dangers of drinking alcoholic beverages are well known. Besides the possibility of leading to addiction, alcohol consumption is known to contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, high tryglicerides (fat content in the blood), heart disease and birth defects. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should not drink alcohol at all.

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