Look, we love coffee and we're all about lacing your coffee with some l-theanine for the health benefits but sometimes you just need a break.
Sometimes you don't want to rely on caffeine.
Plus, sports drinks or your run-of-the-mill fruit juice are packed with completely unneeded or added sugar.
If you're feeling a little burned out on your typical healthy drinks, run through this list for some inspiration.
9 Healthy Drinks That Taste Great and are Packed with Antioxidants and Nutrients
What makes a drink "healthy?"
Well, added sugars and carbs are no good so healthy drinks should contain none of those empty calories.
At the same time, lots of vegetable juices, energy drinks, or fruit juices contain natural sugar – but it's still sugar. Sugar overworks your liver, spikes your insulin levels, and runs straight to your waistline.
We made sure these drinks were also low in natural sugars or we provided some tips for keeping the sugar minimal.
Finally, a healthy drink should provide some kind of health benefit. Every healthy beverage below contains nutrients or antioxidants like vitamin C, electrolytes, probiotics, or other nutrients to give your body energy or defense tools.
1. Grapefruit or Citrus Water
Grapefruit is a great fruit juice choice because it's typically low in sugar (unless a brand has added sugar to it).
We know a lot of people aren't fond of grapefruit juice though. If you're one of them, try including a few squirts of grapefruit into your water with some orange juice and lemon juice for well-rounded flavor.
Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C: an awesome antioxidant.
2. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate juice is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, antioxidants, and other nutrients. (1)
For the most antioxidants, mix up your own smoothie or drink with pomegranate extract or powder.
3. Cranberry Juice
Be careful! 9 times out of 10, "cranberry juice" is really apple or grape juice in disguise. Always read the ingredients first.
Cranberry juice is packed with antioxidants that might fight inflammation and protect against heart disease. (5)
To enjoy the taste, add a spoon of stevia powder or mix 100% cranberry juice into some plain water.
4. Ayran or Kefir
Ayran or kefir are two regional terms for nearly the same thing: fermented yogurt drinks.
They're loaded with probiotics and usually tolerated well by people with lactose issues.
You can even dress up the flavor of your plain ayran or kefir with some sugar-free sparkling water and fresh mint.
5. Coconut Water
Most people either love or hate coconut water.
Regardless, coconut water is loaded with natural electrolytes like potassium, it boosts hydration, and contains low sugar (just make sure to read the label). (6)
If you're not fond of coconut water, try adding some lemon juice, pomegranate seeds, mint, and/or a spoon of stevia for a little calorie-free sweetness.
6. Functional Mushroom Elixir
Functional mushrooms are some of the best plant sources of antioxidants and beta-glucans. (7)
Medicinal mushrooms like lion's mane, turkey tail, and reishi are readily available in powder and extract forms. Just add a scoop to your favorite smoothie or morning coffee to enjoy the many health benefits!
7. Golden Milk
What's better than a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day?
Well, a lot of things because premade hot chocolate is overflowing with added sugar.
You could make your own hot chocolate with unsweetened cocoa powder, stevia, and coconut milk OR you could try some golden milk.
The main ingredient in golden milk is turmeric which provides something called curcumin. Studies show that curcumin may reduce inflammation and stimulate brain-derived neurotrophic factor to prevent age-related memory loss. (8, 9)
Heat some coconut milk on the stove with two teaspoons of turmeric, a pinch of black pepper to boost curcumin's bioavailability, and some cinnamon for taste.
8. Matcha Green Tea
Matcha provides more caffeine and antioxidants than standard green tea because it's made with the whole ground up leaf powder instead of just steeping the leaf.
Who needs Starbucks when you can make your own low sugar matcha green tea lattes or iced teas at home?
Just brew up some water (make sure it's not scalding hot) and steep your tea. Blend it with ice and stevia for a frappe or serve over ice with stevia or a splash of fruit juice for a quick energy boost.
9. Beet Juice
Laugh all you want but beet juice is one of the best vegetable juices because it's packed with antioxidants like vitamin C and has a sweet flavor.
Pour sugar-free beet juice over some smashed blueberries or raspberries for an extra berry flavor and even more antioxidants. (10)
4 Tips for Choosing Your Healthy Drinks
Typically, buying anything pre-bottled or pre-packaged is a no-go. Always read the ingredients before choosing the healthiest drink.
- Look for "added sugars." Most companies list the amount of natural vs added sugars directly on the nutrition information now.
- Watch out for natural sugars, too. Fruit-based sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are still sugar. They'll still spike and crash your blood sugar levels, put you at risk for type 2 diabetes, stress out your liver, and lead to chronic yeast infections.
- Look for vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, iron, probiotics these are all great things to find in healthy drinks. Keep in mind that not every nutrient is always found on the nutrition label so research the ingredients.
- Be skeptical of lengthy ingredient lists. If the ingredient list is a mile long, the drink probably contains a ton of emulsifiers, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and who knows what else. In other words, it's probably not healthy. Unless, of course, those ingredients are all specific plants or vitamins!
The Bottom Line
Don't fall for sugary drinks with the word "healthy" printed on the label. Grab some whole foods for your kitchen like bright fruits and veggies. Use your own research to create delicious healthy drinks that your taste buds, mind, and body will love!