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It seems supermarket shelves are brimming over with different beverages, and making a heart-healthy choice can be particularly challenging! So, what really makes for the perfect healthy drink?
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Water is the ideal beverage, with zero calories, and 100% hydration! Aim to have 6-8 cups each day. If plain water isn’t your thing, why not liven it up a little with a few slices of lemon, lime, or cucumber? Or, if you go for flavored water, be sure to check the nutritional label, as they can be very high in sugar, or artificial sweeteners.
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Low-fat milk or soymilk are also healthy beverage alternatives, and considering most of us don’t get enough calcium, a glass of milk each day can be particularly useful. If you opt for soymilk, look out for the calcium enriched version. Sterol-fortified milks are available, which can be useful if you’re trying to lower cholesterol levels.
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Whole fruit juice
When choosing fruit juice, select those that are 100 percent whole, with no added sugar. A small glass (4 ounces) makes up one serving, which is the recommended daily amount. You can also purchase a sterol-fortified version, which will help to lower high cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation – a process which plays and important role in the development of heart disease.
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Tea is suggested to reduce the risk of stroke, some cancers and heart disease. A review carried out in 2001 of 10 follow-up studies, found that the risk of heart attack was reduced by 11 percent when three cups of tea per day were consumed (237ml).
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Sports drinks are lower in calories than fruit juice or soda. However, they don’t have the same nutritional goodness as fruit juice, or milk. And water should still be your drink of choice if your physical activity lasts less than 60 minutes.
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Coffee has been credited as being “heart healthy,” but if it’s laden with cream and sugar, it will play havoc with your diet! Creamy coffee drinks can range anywhere from 300 to a whopping 500 calories, depending on your choice. However, there are lower calorie options available, for example plain black coffees, skinny lattes, or for something completely different, herbal teas.
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Alcohol is often an underestimated calorie source. The Consumer Federation of American have produced a handy Alcohol Facts chart, which provides details of the calorie content of alcoholic drinks on the market. But you should always take into consideration what mixer you use, as they can almost double the calorie content of your drink.
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Researchers actually think that soda drinkers are more likely to have a lower intake of important nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, magnesium, and calcium. It’s best to steer clear of soft drinks as much as possible – with 10 teaspoons of sugar per can; it’s pretty clear how unhealthy they are.
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If you’re trying to lose weight obviously diet drinks are a good choice, however I’d recommend consuming in moderation (once each week), as artificial sweeteners are best avoided, if at all possible.