Did you know that your body weight is about 60% water? How about your all important brain? It is about 70% water. And your lungs are almost 90% water. It’s no wonder most people don’t live more than three to five days without in taking water or fluids. Our delicious and healthy smoothie and drink recipes provide creative ideas for flavored drinks, teas, smoothies, and alcoholic drinks.
You can find all these yummy beverage recipes in our Drinks & Smoothies Category on Your Daily Food Choices blog.
Along with making mindful daily decisions about what foods to eat, you also need to make mindful daily decisions about what beverages to drink. We are constantly bombarded with commercials and advertisements to drink soft drinks that are either loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners. If not soft drinks, the ads are for fu-fu coffee, sweetened tea, tall glasses of orange juice, or beer.
It’s not that coffee, tea, orange juice, and beer are totally bad for you. But the first and most important beverage you need to consume daily is water. Yes siree! Glasses of clear, clean water! However, do you ever see an ad for water? And when you go to a fast food restaurant, can you even easily find that little button to dispense the water?
Why You Need to Make Water Your #1 Beverage
Your best drink throughout the day is water and plenty of it so that you stay hydrated and allow your body to function properly. Water is so beneficial yet it’s often overlooked.
Your body uses water in all cells, organs, and tissues to transport nutrients, eliminate waste, and help regulate body temperature. Your body loses water through sweating, breathing, and digestion.
Don’t let yourself get dehydrated as dehydration can make you feel sluggish and lethargic. Don’t rely on thirst alone to remind you to have another glass of water. Get into the habit of drinking water throughout the day.
How much water do you need?
Many experts say the average person needs about eight, 8-ounce glasses of fluid each day. In reality, the amount of water or fluids you need each day depends on many factors. But as a general rule, if your pee isn’t mostly clear, you may need to drink more water.
Factors impacting your daily fluid amount:
- Where you live
- If you are sick or healthy
- How physically active you are
- Your age
- Your body muscular structure
- Your body weight
On average, each day your body must replace about 2.5 quarts of water through liquids you drink and food you eat. Drinking this amount of fluids daily may be hard to do without reminders, especially if you are trying to drink all this volume as water.
Hubby Steve likes to drink most of his daily allotment of fluid as water with his three main meals. He drinks a 16-ounce glass of water with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This way he only has a couple of glasses of fluid to consume throughout the rest of the day or he can choose to count the coffee he drinks each morning as that remaining part.
I prefer to drink fluids throughout the day. So I drink an 8-ounce glass of water with each meal, one mid-morning, another mid-afternoon, and one more after dinner. Counting in my morning coffee, I easily fulfill my daily fluid requirement.
9 Benefits of drinking water
The beauty of drinking lots of water is that it has zero calories. And unless you are purchasing bottled or filtered water, it’s free.
- Reduces risk of kidney stones and urinary tract infections by flushing out toxins
- Helps aid digestion and prevents constipation
- Improves brain function helping you think, concentrate, and focus
- Helps relieve and prevent headaches and migraines
- Boosts energy levels and relieves fatigue
- Helps promote weight loss by removing fat by-products and reducing hunger
- Adds moisture to your skin and helps reduce wrinkles
- Boosts your immune system and helps fight against flu, heart attacks, and cancer
- Helps keep joints lubricated and muscles elastic
Don’t care for the taste of water?
Not overly fond of water? You want more pizzazz in the taste of water? Try adding fresh lemon or lime juice.
Drinking lemon water in the morning is a very beneficial habit to adopt. It helps flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body after hours of sleep. The vitamin C in lemons helps provide a small immune boost, reduce stress, and may lead to a cleaner skin.
Another option is to drink water that you flavor and infuse with sliced fruits or vegetables. Forget those expensive flavored bottled waters that grocery and convenience stores sell as many have added sugars.
Or how about making fruit and herb infused flavorful ice cubes? Add blueberries, or diced oranges, peaches, or strawberries to water in your ice-cube tray. Toss in a few pieces of mint or other herbs and freeze.
Other options are ginger slices, citrus zest, sliced cucumbers, diced cantaloupe, or diced watermelon. Adding these attractive frozen cubes to your glass of water helps provide a nutrition boost of antioxidants without added sugar or artificial ingredients.
9 Healthy Beverage Choices Other Than Water
While drinking water is the best choice throughout the day, sometimes you want more options to spice up your waterlogged taste buds.
Luckily, there are several beverages that are still on the healthy side of the beverage scale like these nine:
No 1: Green tea
Do you know that besides water, green tea is the healthiest beverage you can drink? Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that benefit your body, green tea helps soothe inflammation, It also reduces risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, colitis, heart disease, and stroke.
While containing less caffeine than coffee, green tea contains enough to help stimulate your body and keep you awake. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine which together with caffeine works to improve brain function.
Besides improving brain function, the bioactive compounds in green tea help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as we age. The catechins in green tea help inhibit the growth of viruses and kill bacteria leading to improved dental health.
Drinking green tea boosts the metabolic rate which can help to increase weight loss. It also leads to decreased body fat, especially in the abdominal area. Try making this healthy green liquid a part of your daily routine.
No 2: Coffee
Caffeinated beverages, especially coffee, can add energy but keep the quantity in moderation. If the caffeine makes you jittery, cut back on the number of cups your drink.
Coffee contains many nutrients and antioxidants. Studies have shown that coffee is extremely good for you. Coffee helps you burn fat, makes you smarter, and lowers risk of diabetes, some cancers like skin cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
No 3: Black Tea
Studies have shown that like green tea, black tea is also incredible good for you. Black tea can prevent dental decay, strokes, hypertension, kidney stones, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, even several types of cancer.
Black tea can also help you meet your weight loss goals. Black tea is excellent hot or cold. However, beware of sweetened teas sold commercially or in restaurants as they contain too much sugar. If you want a little sweetening, add a few drops of honey.
No 4: Milk
Dairy based milk is a good source for calcium, phosphorus, and potassium; key nutrients for strong and healthy bones. It is also a good source of protein. Any food that contains milk, like cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese is also a good source of these key nutrients.
Whole milk is relatively high in calories. This is why we prefer to drink 1% or 2% milk which is lower in calories.
Some people are lactose intolerant and can’t easily drink milk. Fortunately, neither one of us has any allergies or sensitivities to milk.
For those who cannot drink dairy milk there are options like coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or highly controversial soy milk. However, the nutrient makeup of these other milks is not as good as with dairy milk.
Love chocolate milk? So do we, but keep in mind that a cup of low-fat chocolate milk has 191 calories while a cup of low-fat milk has 102 calories. Those extra 89 calories can add up in a hurry if you drink more than one glass of chocolate milk a day.
However, it is hard to overlook the health benefits of chocolate, especially hot cocoa. The flavonoids in cocoa may help reduce risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and kidney disease.
No 5: Sparkling or Carbonated Water
As long as the product is plain carbonated or sparkling water without any added ingredients like sugars and sodium, enjoy the bubbles. Just like with plain water, experiment with adding fresh vegetables like cucumbers, fresh herbs, or slices of fresh fruit to kick up the flavor.
Or go grab those fruit and herb infused flavorful ice cubes from the freezer to offer a nutrition boost of antioxidants without added sugar or artificial ingredients.
No 6: Smoothies
Homemade smoothies that combine carbohydrates, protein and maybe even a little fat are tasty and healthy treats. Green smoothies that contain plenty of dark leafy greens are especially healthy as they are high in amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and beneficial antioxidants.
We often have a tasty green smoothie for lunch. They are quick to make and the variations in flavors are almost endless. Toss in a tablespoon or two of omega-3 rich chia or flax seeds for added fiber. If you need more protein in your daily diet, add protein powder or Greek yogurt to your smoothies.
But do beware of how many calories you are including in these healthful drinks as they can add up quickly. Look out when you buy smoothies from drink chains. They often add fruit juice, sugar, and ice cream which can quickly ratchet up the calories to 500 or more per cup. Check the nutritional information and choose a smoothie that is low in calories.
No 7: Alcoholic Beverages
These include wine, beer, liquor, and liquors. Most studies show that one drink for women and two drinks for men per day are not harmful and may even have benefits.
Moderate amounts of alcohol can benefit your heart as it raises HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol), reduces the formation of blood clots, and helps prevent artery damage. Red wine may lower risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, skip the sugary mixed drinks as they are too high in calories.
The key is moderation. Drinking too much alcohol, including red wine, increases your risk of high blood pressure, liver damage, obesity, high triglycerides, and certain types of cancer. Binge drinking is extremely dangerous, killing brain cells and resulting in permanent memory loss.
No 8: Coconut water
Naturally refreshing with a sweet and nutty taste, coconut water has more potassium than four bananas. Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside young, green coconuts. Don’t confuse it with coconut milk, extracted from the flesh of mature coconuts, as coconut milk is higher in fat and calories.
A cup of coconut water contains about 46 calories with only 10 grams of natural sugar, making it a low-calorie and low-sugar alternative to sodas and sports drinks. Many tout the nutritional benefits of coconut water to include lower cholesterol and blood pressure, boosted energy, and even weight loss. However the research is early.
Coconut water is somewhat expensive and it may take a little while to acclimate to the taste. All in all, it is a nutritious beverage that will help keep you hydrated. However, check the label as many companies are adding sweeteners or flavorings to their coconut water.
No 9: Vegetable juice
Drinking vegetable juice is a quick way to get all the benefits of nutritious vegetables without consuming loads of calories. Vegetable juices are low in sugar but they can be high in sodium so choose a low-sodium option. You can make your own vegetable juice at home with a juicer machine. Add black pepper, cayenne pepper, and splash of hot sauce for a spicy version.
6 Unhealthy Beverage Choices
Whether at work or out with friends socially, it is sometimes so tempting to grab or order one of the following beverage diet disasters. While not always easy to resist these temptations, your body will thank you if you do.
No 1: Soft Drinks
One of the worst beverages to put into your body is soda, diet or regular, soda is just plain bad. It is full of high fructose corn syrup, other refined sugars, or artificial sweeteners. Soda contains no vitamins and no minerals.
Avoid soda because it provides no health benefits to you or your family. Studies show that calorie-free diet sodas increase metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, acid reflux, and kidney problems.
No 2: Fruit juices
While fruit juices may sound good, they are actually poor beverage choices even though they contain more nutrients than soda. Fruit juices are loaded with calories and many have added sugar and flavorings.
While fruit juices do contain some vitamins and minerals, they lack fiber which helps keep the sugar in fruit from entering our blood stream at too fast a rate. Skip the fruit juices and simply eat the delicious fruit, giving your precious body more fiber and nutrients.
No 3: Juice drinks
Stay away from any juice product labeled as “juice cocktail” or “juice drink.” These clever terms are sneakily used by manufacturers to trick you into buying a watered down product that is high in calories. These products are also loaded with added sugar, with some containing up to 30 grams of sugar in a single serving.
No 4: Sports drinks and Gatorade
Unless you are exercising strenuously or participating in long endurance stints, especially in the heat, where you need to replace minerals and electrolytes, you don’t need to consume sports drinks or Gatorade.
Sports drinks and Gatorade contain sugar. Unless you are participating in vigorous physical activity for over one hour, especially in hot conditions, water is your better choice for hydration.
No 5: Energy drinks
If you are looking for a caffeine boost, stick with coffee. Energy drinks are expensive beverages that are high in calories, loaded with sugar, and contain potentially harmful stimulants. Avoid these like the plague.
No 6: Flavored coffee drinks
As inviting as the coffee shops that sell these trendy flavored coffees are, ordering one of their loaded options with a bunch of syrup, chocolate, and whipped cream can easily cost you 600 or more calories. That’s more than many breakfasts plus a morning snack.
If you must indulge, go for one of the lighter options. Or order a good old cup of black coffee and sparingly doctor it yourself.
11 Tips for Healthy Smoothie and Drink Recipes
- When out for happy hour to enjoy a drink or two after work, skip the cheeseburger and order a lean protein and a salad. Alcohol shuts down your body’s fat oxidizing ability preventing your body from using fat for fuel and instead just stores it as fat.
- Want to top hot cocoa or coffee with dollop of whipped cream but don’t like the spray stuff? Whip up a batch of real whipped cream and place small spoonfuls on a lined (parchment or wax paper) baking sheet. Freeze the cream until solid and store in freezer bag until needed. Simply toss one in your hot beverage and enjoy. You can also freeze larger sizes for topping a dessert. They take about 15 to 20 minutes to thaw.
- When ordering an alcoholic drink before dinner, skip the sugary mixed drinks and order a glass of red wine or a Scotch on the rocks. You are much more likely to sip these drinks. Both of these drinks raise antioxidants and help protect against heart disease.
- When freezing a tray of ice cubes, add a bright green mint leaf for a pretty and refreshing way to serve cocktails, lemonade, or sparkling water.
- When on the go, carry water with you so when the thirst monster strikes you are not tempted to stop at a fast food store for a sugary soft drink. Fill a clean, reusable water bottle and toss it in your car or bag. Or fill it the night before and freeze for a few hours of coldness.
- Like iced coffee in the summer time but hate the drink getting watery as the ice melts? Freeze a tray of vanilla flavored milk ice cubes and toss several into your drink. Simply choose any milk, mix in a teaspoon of vanilla or more for intense vanilla flavor, and freeze. Another option is to make coffee ice cubes by freezing strong coffee.
- Jazz up your kid’s glass of milk with chocolate ice cubes. Either freeze chocolate milk or make rich chocolate milk by heating 1 cup milk, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, and ½ cup dark chocolate chips. Whisk until dissolved. Let cool, then pour into ice-cube trays and freeze. For adults, add one or two cubes to a small glass and add an ounce of Bailey’s!
- Brighten up a pitcher of water by adding colorful frozen melon balls. They will not only make the water cold but add a hint of fresh flavor. Use a blend of cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew.
- Smoothies make a great fast breakfast that you can take with you for that long commute to work. If rushed for time in the mornings, you can measure out the fruit and greens ingredients the night before and store in a plastic bag or glass jar overnight. Or make a week’s worth over the weekend and freeze the ingredients. Let thaw for a few minutes before blending. Add liquid, blend, and enjoy.
- Like your smoothies cold? Use at least one frozen fruit when making your smoothie. Berries, cherries, pineapple, melon cubes, grapes, and bananas are excellent choices.
- Want more protein in your smoothies? Add a scope of protein powder or half cup of Greek yogurt per serving. Other excellent options are chia seeds, flax seeds, cottage cheese, or nut butters.
Wrapping up on Healthy Smoothie and Drink Ideas
We talked about why you need to make water your #1 beverage, how much water you need per day, and the benefits of drinking all this water. We discussed ways to jazz up the flavor of water. We reviewed nine healthy beverage choices other than water.
Then we talked about six unhealthy beverage choices and why you should stay away from them. We ended by giving you several quick and easy tips for making smoothies and drinks.
There is so much more we could discuss, but now the choice is yours. You need to decide which beverages are best for you and your family, each and every day. Here’s to drinking plenty of water! Let us know if you have any questions.
Need more information for healthy smoothie and drink ideas? Below are a few articles for you to check out.
Sources and Enlightening Reading
Why Do We Need to Drink Water? By Robin Elizabeth Margolis from Healthy Eating
10 Reasons Why You Should Drink More Water by Abby Phon from Mind Body Green
The Benefits of Lemon Water by Katie from Wellness Mama
10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea (No. 3 is Very Impressive) by Kris Gunnars, BSc from Authority Nutrition
10 Surprising Health Benefits of Hot Chocolate from Love Live Health
6 Healthy Foods You Should Never Add To Your Smoothie by MaryGrace Taylor
7 Reasons to Start Your Day with Lemon Water (Infographic) by Roxanne B. Sukol, MD
Another Perk for Drinking Coffee by Mercola
The Health Benefits of Water by Jen Laskey
Green Smoothie 101: How To Make A Green Smoothie by Simple Green Smoothies
Soda Alternatives by Everyday Health Editors
The Truth About Coconut Water by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD by Web MD
Is Coconut Water Good for You? By Dr. Axe
We Appreciate You!
Thanks for stopping by and letting us share a little about our healthy philosophy for drinks and smoothies.
We are here for you as a guide and as a friend. Let us know how we can help you embrace a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s to lower calorie, great tasting recipes, and living well! And remember, what you eat really matters!
Linda and Steve
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