Healthy Nutrition Drinks

By Val Silver

Nutrition drinks can be a tasty, important part of your diet. They are a great way to supply the vitamins, minerals, protein and antioxidants your body needs, especially if your diet leaves something to be desired. Healthy beverages quench your thirst and serve as snacks or meal replacements.

The sky is the limit when it comes the variety of nutritious drinks you can purchase or prepare at home. They run the gamut from plain water to hot teas to pureed soups to cold healthy smoothies and shakes. They are easily prepared from scratch or powders. If you prefer homemade, you can juice from whole fruits and vegetables. If convenience is more your style, go for ready-made beverages or powders that you mix with water, juice, or milk.

What are healthy nutrition drinks?

Not always what you think. Whether homemade or store-bought, be mindful of the addition of too much sugar, unhealthy vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, and highly-processed milk and foodstuffs. Aim for real food that is minimally-processed and the best ingredients you can get. 

Powdered nutrition drinks

You really have to be careful here. Not everything claiming to be healthy is. Ignore the hype and read the label. The quality of these products range from poor to excellent. If you are looking for healthy beverages besides water, avoid products that are little more than vegetable oil, sugar (or artificial sweeteners)  a few cents of vitamin spray, and high-temperature dried milk. It is best to avoid soy protein (unless fermented). Soy interferes with mineral absorption and can disrupt your hormones.

Protein drinks with whey protein concentrate (not isolates) or pea protein are better choices. Plant proteins keep you feeling full longer. Whey may be best after a hard workout.  If possible, choose organic products to avoid toxins.

For nutrition drinks that go above and beyond for quality, try Garden of Life raw protein and greens or their raw meal replacement powder. The vanilla flavor is my favorite, and blends nicely with a banana or berries. It's one of my on-the-go breakfasts.

This organic meal replacement powder contains a variety of raw foods providing protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals that you would find in a healthy meal of raw foods. Just mix with water or juice and stir. 

Tip: A little stevia improves the taste if it isn't sweet enough for you. Stevia is a natural sweetener that has a low impact on blood sugar.

Healthy Homemade Smoothies and Shakes

You can have a lot of fun blending up countless combinations of ingredients for healthy smoothies. If your family turns up their noses to anything but junk food, these healthy nutrition drinks make great junk food alternatives that grown ups and children enjoy. They help bridge the nutritional gap without complaint.

For the base, use a good quality whey or pea protein powder, hemp, almond, rice or coconut milk, and/or milk, yogurt or kefir. Raw meal vanilla powder is tasty, too.

Popular add-ins include superfoods such as frozen berries, flax, chia, avocado, and greens. Add a small banana, raw honey, dates or stevia for sweetness. Most fruit is delicious and nutritious but contains a lot of sugar so only add a piece or two. You may want to add a small scoop of powdered greens, a raw egg (from a source you trust) or a heaping tablespoon of organic coconut oil. To make a cold, thick shake, blend in frozen fruit and a few ice cubes. If you add ice, make sure your blender is powerful enough to handle it.

One of my favorite recipes is:

  • 2 scoops of Miracle Whey (strawberry or blueberry) or one scoop of Vanilla Raw Meal
  • 1/3 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 8 oz cold water
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 TBS coconut oil 
  • 1TBS chia seeds or ground flax
  • A few ice cubes

Whir in a blender until mixed thoroughly. Pour in a tall glass and sip slowly (if you can!) Yummy. 

Healthy Flavored Water, Seltzers, and Juice

Coconut Water is the perfect nutrition drink for re-hydrating in the heat, after exercise, if you have a hangover, or have lost fluids due to illness. Coconut water contains five essential electrolytes: potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. You can drink the water out of a coconut or buy prepackaged. Not all brands of coconut water taste good, so experiment until you find one you like. And be sure to get one that is not from concentrate. The bestselling brand on Amazon is Vita Coco Pure Coconut Water.

Watermelon Water is another tasty electrolyte-rich refreshing healthy drink you can easily make at home. Add equal parts cubed watermelon and cold water to a blender. Sweeten to taste with stevia and/or a little sugar. For added flavor, squeeze in lemon or lime juice, berries, or replace plain water with coconut water. Add more or less water for desired thickness. To make it more like a slushie, replace some of the water with ice cubes. 

healthy nutrition drinks

Vegetable Juice - Carrots, kale, spinach, and other greens are popular vegetable juices. If you are making your own, add an organic granny smith apple or some grapes to make them more palatable. Vary the vegetables in your juice to get a variety of nutrients. Some people have trouble with the oxalates in raw kale and spinach and are best to limit how often they include these greens in their smoothies. 

V-8 is a ready-made vegetable juice standby. It contains tomato juice and other vegetables. Now it also comes with fruit juice mixed in. Pretty tasty.

Fruit juice - The best way to enjoy fruit juice is by eating the fruit or adding pieces of fruit to a smoothie or vegetable juice. Don't go overboard on fruit juice because it can spike blood sugar. This is because the fiber is missing and you are consuming the juice of more fruits than you would normally eat. Two exceptions are grapefruit juice and unsweetened cranberry juice. 

Natural sodas - If you are a commercial soda drinker, try natural soda or flavored seltzer water instead. These may not be nutrition drinks per se, but they are good substitutes for unhealthy commercial sodas. 

Choose brands without high fructose corn syrup. Look for natural root beer or seltzer water flavored only with fruit. Zevia comes in a variety of flavors and is sweetened with stevia for a zero calorie treat.

Coffee, Tea, and Herbal Teas

Good quality teas and coffee can be enjoyed hot or cold for pleasure and health benefits. To avoid drinking a lot of pesticides and herbicides, it is best to buy organic whenever possible. To avoid drinking micro-plastics which leach into your drink, it is best to avoid bags, especially plastic tea and coffee bags, and buy loose-leaf varieties when possible. They are readily available from reputable companies. Use natural sweeteners, if desired. Skip the frankenfood creamers. Opt for a dash of plant-based milk or real milk or cream instead.

Due to their antioxidants and beneficial compounds, coffee and different types of tea have anti-inflammatory benefits. The addition of spices to make chai add to those benefits.

Coffee- For some reason, coffee often appears on the naughty list, but good quality organic coffee is rich in antioxidants and protective compounds that have been shown to reduce the risk of developing certain health conditions and cancers. Research shows that 2-3 cups of caffeinated coffee is protective for most adults. Decaf versions may lack beneficial antioxidants but are better than nothing if you are sensitive to caffeine or want to drink coffee past early afternoon.

Traditional Teas - The health benefits of white, black, and green teas are supported by a large body of research. The antioxidants and other compounds in tea have been shown to aid weight loss, lessen inflammation, decrease the risk of certain diseases, and fight cancer.  

Herbal Teas  - Besides being a beverage that can be enjoyed hot or cold, herbal teas contain volatile oils and therapeutic compounds that can help with a variety of conditions, such as stress, nausea, and digestive discomforts. Enjoy one of the calming teas to ease stress,  a cup of peppermint or chamomile tea to calm digestive upsets,  or ginger tea to ease nausea and warm your body. Try yerba mate if you need an energy lift (contains caffeine) or red rooibos tea for a dose of antioxidants. Add a dash of stevia or a squeeze of lemon to taste.

Tea bag sized serving of herbal tea may not be rich sources of vitamins and minerals, but they are a good source of antioxidants. To elevate herbal tea to the status of nutrition drinks, enjoy herbal infusions of dried nettle or oatstraw leaf for a healthy dose of easily absorbed vitamins and minerals. Delicious hot or cold.

Turmeric Tea or Golden Milk is an Ayurvedic nutrition drink often made with turmeric, ghee, coconut milk, a natural sweetener, and a dash of black pepper to aid absorption. Turmeric is hailed as a wonder anti-inflammatory spice with a myriad of health benefits ranging from its anti-cancer fighting abilities to staving off depression, aches and digestive woes. Research supports its anti-inflammatory powers.  Make your own or purchase a ready-made blend that you mix with water or coconut milk.



Pureed Soups and Bone Broth

Warm nutritious pureed vegetables cooked in water or broth and seasoned with herbs and spices make tasty, filling, nutrition drinks. 

These low-cal, easy to prepare soups offer antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to boost your health. Best of all, they are very satisfying - perfect if you are on a diet and want to take the edge off your hunger. Because they are pureed and cooked, they may also be easier to digest.

Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and squashes are perfect vegetables for 'souping'. Experiment with your favorite vegetables and beans.

Here's a recipe I make often in the winter:

Simmer a pound of fresh or frozen chopped broccoli, a pound of cauliflower, a handful of dried reishi mushrooms and a clove of minced garlic in a quart of water or stock.  Once the vegetables are soft, use a stick blender to puree the soup right in the pot or pour the contents into a blender. I like to leave the texture slightly coarse. Add more liquid if desired, and season to taste with a generous pinch of real salt and dried dill. Sip warm or cold from a mug. You can also just use cauliflower or broccoli for variety. These soups keep well in the refrigerator for a few days.

Bone Broth is made by simmering connective tissues and bones with vegetables and herbs.  The minerals and collagen in the broth have been shown to reduce gut inflammation and benefit skin and bones. If you make bone broth at home, add a big dash of apple cider vinegar to the pot to leach out more nutrients from the bones. Choose bones from pastured animals. If purchasing bone broth, choose organic varieties.

Water

Last but not least, drink water. When you are thirsty, and or first thing in the morning have a glass of pure, fresh water on an empty stomach to rehydrate your body quickly.  For added flavor, add the juice of half a lemon or lime for Vitamin C or a spoonful of apple cider vinegar with or without a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

Whichever healthy beverages you choose, nutrition drinks are a pleasurable, important part of a healthful diet for life.  Drink up and enjoy! The addition of nutritious beverages to your diet can be an effective way to get added nutrition, fight inflammation, build energy, and ease the symptoms of what ails you. 

Healthy Nutrition Drinks page updated 01/2020

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