Choosing a healthy beverage can sometimes be hard. There are so many drinks to choose from. It can also be confusing as what may seem nutritious may not be. Read on to find out some of the healthiest ways to satisfy your thirst.
Make water your first choice
Drink water regularly for a calorie-free way to satisfy your thirst.
Keep a jug of cold water in the fridge.
Pack a reusable water bottle for school, work and sports.
Keep a glass of water near you at work, on your desk at home, by the TV and by your bed. You tend to drink more if it’s right in front of you.
Order water more often when eating out. At restaurants, ask for a glass of water.
Give your water some extra flavour by adding cucumber slices, berries, lemon or lime wedges, apple chunks or orange segments.
Choose carbonated or soda water for a refreshing alternative to flat water. You can naturally flavour plain soda water with lemon juice or fruit slices. You can also buy flavoured soda water at the grocery store. Just make sure to read the label and look for soda water with no added sugar, sodium or sweeteners. Don’t confuse soda water with tonic water. Tonic water often has added sugar.
Drink milk or plant-based beverages
Milk and plain fortified plant-based beverages are nutritious ways to satisfy your thirst. They are good sources of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Some plant-based beverages have more protein than others. Compare labels to find out. Choose unflavoured options without added sugar.
Facts on fruit juice and fruit beverages
Fruit juice and fruit beverages should be limited. Many of these beverages contain a high amount of sugar. Fruit juice, even labelled as ‘no sugar added,’ still contains a high amount of sugar. Eat a piece of fruit instead of drinking juice. Whole fruits have the added benefits of fibre and additional nutrients.
If you drink juice, choose ones that say “100% juice” on the package. If you choose to offer 100% fruit juice to your children, make sure they only get small amounts, such as half a cup (½) cup per day or less, and no more than once a day. Remember that children do not need juice to be healthy. It is best to offer children water and milk or fortified plant-based beverages to satisfy their thirst. For guidance on beverages for children under 2 years of age read our article on Transitioning Your Baby to Cow’s Milk or speak to a dietitian.
Fruit punch, fruit drink, fruit cocktail and some fruit flavoured beverages contain water, flavouring and added sugar. They offer no nutrition. It is healthiest to limit or avoid these products.
Smoothies that are made from whole fruits can be nutritious choices. Try blending your favourite frozen fruit with plain yogurt, milk or plant-based beverage for a refreshing snack or meal. Check out these tasty smoothie recipes: Mango Strawberry Smoothie and Honeydew Apple and Avocado Smoothie.
Facts on vegetable juices
Vegetable juices like tomato juice or vegetable cocktail can be high in sodium (salt). Eating whole vegetables gives you fibre and other nutrients not found in juice. If you drink vegetable juice, compare labels and look for lower sodium varieties.
Facts on beverages like pop or soda
Carbonated beverages like pop and soda usually contain a very high amount of sugar. They have no nutrients like fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Limit or avoid drinking these types of beverages.
Facts on sports drinks
Your body does not need sports drinks if you are not exercising. These drinks are specially designed for people that are exercising and sweating a lot. If you drink sports drinks when you are not exercising, you will simply be increasing your sugar intake.
Certain people can benefit from sports drinks when doing physical activity. Not everyone needs sports drinks when exercising. Read this article and talk to your dietitian or healthcare provider to find out if you should be using a sports drink when you exercise.
Facts on energy drinks
Energy drinks are beverages that have ingredients like caffeine, vitamins and herbs. Like pop, they often contain high amounts of sugar. Children, teens, and women who are breastfeeding or pregnant should not use energy drinks. Read more about energy drinks here.
Other sugary drinks
Other drinks with added sugar like iced tea, milkshakes, sweetened iced coffee, kombucha, etc. should also be avoided or limited due to their high sugar content.
What about coconut water?
Coconut water comes from the centre of young or immature coconuts. Coconut water contains electrolytes like potassium and sodium, but it also contains sugar. The amount of electrolytes found in coconut water varies by coconut plants and across brands found in the grocery store. Just like fruit juices, it is best to limit how much coconut water you drink.
Plain water is the best way to keep your body hydrated. If you have questions about how to best rehydrate after exercise or playing sports, read our article Sports Nutrition: Facts on Hydration or speak to a dietitian.
How can a dietitian help?
A dietitian will help you meet your nutrition and health goals by giving you personalized advice on what to eat and drink. They will make sure you are well hydrated and getting enough essential nutrients like protein and calcium. They will also provide tailored advice that meets your lifestyle, such as when to use beverages like sports drinks and whether you are having too much caffeine. Connect with a dietitian today!
Choose water to quench your thirst and stay hydrated most often. Milk and plant-based beverages , like soy beverage, are also a nutritious choice. Juices, soda and pop, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages like iced tea and milkshakes should be avoided or limited. Your body does not need sports drinks if you are not exercising. Sports drinks may be needed for exercise and sport for some people.
You may also be interested in:
Facts on Fluids – How to Stay Hydrated
Facts on Caffeine
Nutritional Content of Plant-Based Beverages
Sports Nutrition: Facts on Sports Drinks
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider.
Last Update – February 24, 2023