Consuming a beverage can actually boost your health and add years to your life – but only if you make the right choice.
Recent studies have found that some drinks offer benefits that go far beyond simply quenching your thirst.
That doesn’t mean you should mistake your favorite cola or sports drink for the fountain of youth, however.
In fact, it is best to steer clear of beverages with sugar added to them, says Brooke Schantz Fosco, a registered dietitian nutritionist and CEO of Bitchin' Nutrition.
"A continuous intake of sugar-sweetened beverages or added sugars can lead to weight gain and chronic diseases," she says.
Such sugary drinks include:
- Some carbonated beverages
- Sports drinks
- Energy drinks
- Coffee and espresso drinks
So, which types of beverages are better for you? Science says the following three drinks can enhance -- and even possibly extend -- your life:
The Best Healthy Beverages
When it comes to good health, nothing beats keeping it simple.
"Without a doubt, the number one recommended beverage is water," Schantz Fosco says.
She notes that water plays a widespread role in helping the body function properly. Among other benefits, it aids in digestion, absorption, circulation and the transportation of nutrients.
Failing to drink enough water puts you at higher risk of dehydration, which can contribute to problems ranging from constipation to kidney stones.
Unless you have a medical condition, Schantz Fosco suggests consuming 2.7 liters of water daily if you are a woman, and 3.7 liters if you are a man.
Milk is another simple, staple beverage that can do your body a world of good.
In addition, consuming milk has been linked to better bone health, particularly among children and adolescents, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Adults who drink milk regularly may lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
But don’t think that all glasses of milk are equal. A recent study out of Brigham Young University found that people who consumed high-fat milk -- such as 2% and whole milk -- aged more rapidly than people who drink low-fat milk.
The study looked at telomeres -- the nucleotide endcaps of human chromosomes -- and found that the more high-fat milk you drink, the shorter your telomeres are, indicating increased biological aging.
In fact, drinking tea three times a week can lead to a longer, healthier life, according to research recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
The study found that when compared to people who rarely or never drink tea, those who drink tea on a regular basis had:
- A 20% lower risk of incident heart disease and stroke
- A 22% lower risk of fatal heart disease and stroke
- A 15% decreased risk of all-cause death
Tea contains a chemical compound called polyphenols, which contribute to the health benefits of the beverage, Schantz Fosco says.
"Catechins are the main type of polyphenolic compound present in green tea, which has been shown in numerous research studies to produce both antioxidant and anticarcinogenic effects," she says.
When brewing up tea, go for the green. The benefits of drinking green tea appear to be significantly greater than those of drinking black tea, according to the research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.