The sugar-sweetened beverage is one of the leading sources of added sugars. This includes all soda pop, sugar sweetened teas, fruit juice, fruit punch, vitamin water, smoothies, shakes, lemonade, chocolate or flavored milk, iced coffee drinks and energy drinks. Hot drinks such as hot chocolate, moccachino, caffé mocha, and sweetened coffee and tea would also be included. Trendy alcoholic drinks add significant amounts of sugar. This includes “Hard’ lemonade, flavored wine coolers, ‘cider’ beers, as well as more traditional drinks such as Bailey’s Irish Cream, margaritas, daiquiris, pina coladas, dessert wines, ice wines, sweet Sherries, and liqueurs. Artificially sweetened drinks, as noted previously are not better than their regular counterparts.
So what is left to drink? The best drink is really just plain or sparkling water. Slices of lemon, orange or cucumber are a refreshing addition. Several traditional and delicious drinks are also available.
Legend has it that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goatherd that astutely noticed that his goats were extra frisky after eating the red fruit of the coffee tree. After reporting it to a local monastery, monks turned the fruits into a brewed drink to help them stay awake during long hours of prayer. From these legendary beginnings, coffee would spread first through Arab traders to Europe and then America. Today, it is enjoyed almost worldwide with local variations in brewing and drinking methods.
Due to the high caffeine content, it is sometimes considered an unhealthy habit. However, recent research has come to the opposite conclusion. Coffee is a major source of antioxidants. It is also a rich source of magnesium and lignans which are suggested to benefit many different areas of human health.
Coffee appears to have a protective role against type 2 Diabetes. In a 2009 review, each additional daily cup of coffee lowered the risk of diabetes by 7%, even up to six cups per day. The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) sub study estimated that drinking at least 3 cups of tea or coffee daily reduced the risk of diabetes by 42%. The Singapore Chinese Health Study showed a 30% reduction in risk for more than 4 cups per day of coffee. This protection is evident even in decaffeinated coffees, suggesting that much of the benefit derives from antioxidants.
Coffee appears to reduce total mortality as well. A large 2012 analysis of the AARP Diet and Health Study found total mortality reduced by 10-15% in those drinking six cups of coffee. Other large-scale studies such as the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow Up Study found that most major causes of death, including heart disease were reduced. Coffee may guard against the neurologic diseases Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Store beans in an airtight container away from excessive moisture, heat and light. Flavor is lost quickly after grinding, so investing in a reliable grinder is worthwhile. Grind beans immediately before brewing. On hot days, iced coffee is simple and inexpensive to make. Simply brew a pot of regular coffee and cool in the refrigerator overnight. Cinnamon, coconut oil, vanilla extract, almond extract and cream may be used to flavor coffee without changing its healthy nature. Avoid adding sugars or sweeteners.
Legend holds that the Emperor of China discovered tea in 2737 BC. He had been enjoying a cup of boiled water when leaves from a nearby tree blew into his drink. As the water changed color, the emperor sipped the brew and was surprised by the pleasant taste. For centuries afterwards, royalty enjoyed tea for its medicinal and religious purposes. Tea spread to Japan in the 6th century, where green tea would be developed and popularized. Tea did not reach English shores until the 17th century, where it gained popularity among the aristocratic class.
After water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world. There are several basic tea varieties. Black tea is the most common, making up almost 75% of global consumption. Harvested leaves are fully fermented giving it the characteristic black color. Black tea tends to be higher in caffeine. Oolong tea is ‘semi-fermented’ meaning that it undergoes a shorter period of fermentation. Green tea is a ‘non-fermented’ tea. The freshly harvested leaves immediately undergo a steaming process to stop fermentation, giving it a much more delicate and floral taste. Green tea is naturally much lower in caffeine than coffee, which makes this drink ideal for those who are sensitive to its stimulant effects.
Green tea owes much of its beneficial effects due to large concentrations of a group of powerful antioxidants called catechins, notably one called EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). Fermentation changes the catechins to a variety of theaflavins, making green tea a richer source than black or oolong teas. The theaflavins in black tea may also have beneficial health effects, although different from those of green tea. The antioxidant potential of green tea and black tea are comparable. Polyphenols in the tea are also believed to boost metabolism, which may aid in ‘fat burning’. Many health benefits have been ascribed to green tea consumption, including increased fat oxidation during exercise, increased resting energy expenditure (34), lower risk of various types of cancer.
A meta-analysis of studies confirms that green tea helps with weight loss, although the benefit is rather modest in the range of 1-2 kg. Catechins may play a role in inhibiting carbohydrate digestive enzymes resulting in lower glucose levels, and protecting the pancreatic beta cell. The Singapore Chinese Health study showed that drinking more than one cup of black tea per day reduced the risk of diabetes by 14%. Other studies demonstrated an 18% decrease in the risk of Type 2 Diabetes for those drinking 3-4 cups per day.
All teas may be enjoyed both as hot or cold beverages. There are infinite varieties of tea available to suit any taste. Flavors can be added with the addition of lemon peel, orange peel, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla pods, mint and ginger may all be added to any type of tea.
Herbal teas are infusions of herbs, spices or other plant matter in hot water. They make excellent drinks without added sugars, and can be enjoyed hot or cold. These are not true teas since they do not contain tea leaves. The varieties are endless. Some popular varieties include mint, chamomile, ginger, lavender, lemon balm, hibiscus, and rosehip teas. The addition of cinnamon or other spices can enhance the flavor.
Virtually every culture’s culinary traditions include the nutritious and delicious bone broth. Animal bones are simmered with the addition of vegetables, herbs and spices for flavoring. The long simmering time (4-48 hours) releases most of the minerals, gelatin and nutrients. The addition of a small amount of vinegar during cooking helps leach some of the stored minerals. Bone broths are very high in amino acids such as proline, arginine and glycine as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Animal bones are often available at ethnic grocery stores and fairly inexpensive. They are also very convenient, requiring little preparation time. They can be made in large batches and frozen. Upon cooling, broth may congeal like Jello due to the high gelatin content. Most commercially prepared broths have nothing in common with the homemade variety. Prepackaged broths often rely on artificial flavors and MSG to provide taste. The minerals, nutrients and gelatin are not present in many canned broths.
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