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Drink Up For Your Health

Registered Dietician Becky Varner discusses the health benefits of water and other nutritious beverages.
BY BECKY VARNER, Published: May 14, 2014

Getting the most health benefits from beverages is as important as the health benefits we get from meals. Water is vital for life and is one of the most essential nutrients for the body. But it is often overlooked when people think about a healthful diet.

Every cell, tissue and organ in the body contains water. Almost every life sustaining process in the body requires water. It is an essential component of every fluid in the body including blood, digestive juices in the stomach, saliva and urine. Water regulates the body temperature.

The body needs an ongoing supply of water to keep functioning and to avoid dehydration. An appropriate time to emphasize the importance of consuming plenty of water is during hot weather seasons.

Water is necessary for digestion of food and helps move food through the digestive tract. It transports vital nutrients and oxygen to body cells and carries waste products away. Water keeps many body tissues such as the eyes, nose and mouth moist, helps to lubricate joints and cushions organs and tissues throughout the body. It is the most abundant substance in the human body.

That makes water important as a beverage of choice! Many people choose beverages that provide water but in addition contain lots of calories with minimal or no nutrients. Sodas, slushes and many fruit drinks range from about 150 to 200 calories for 12 ounces. These calories are mostly from added sugar and generally these beverages provide no or minimal nutritional value. People can consume a lot more calories than they realize from high sugar beverages.

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Mango and

Orange Slush

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup 100 percent orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D

1 cup frozen mango

1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt

Fresh mandarin orange segments and/or mango chunks for garnish

2 decorative toothpicks

•Combine ingredients in blender and secure the lid. Blend on high speed for a few seconds until smooth and thick.

•Pour into two chilled glasses.

•To garnish, spear several mandarin orange segments and/or mango chunks on each toothpick and place on edge of the glass.

Each serving contains approximately 115 calories, 2 grams protein, no fat and 27 grams carbohydrate.

Strawberry Shake

Makes 2 servings

1 cup vanilla soy milk

1/2 cup 100-percent pineapple juice

2 cups frozen sliced strawberries

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 whole strawberries for garnish if desired

•Combine ingredients in blender and secure the lid. Blend on high speed for a few seconds until smooth and thick.

•Pour into two chilled glasses.

•To garnish, make a slit from the point of each strawberry up to the stem end. Leave about 1/4-inch intact. Place slit over the edge of the glass to garnish.

Each serving contains approximately 128 calories, 4 grams protein, 2 grams fat and 23 grams carbohydrate.

Banana Peanut Butter and Chocolate Freeze

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup skim milk

1 medium peeled frozen banana, cut in chunks

2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

• Combine all ingredients in blender and secure the lid. Blend on high speed for a few seconds until smooth and thick.

• Pour into two chilled glasses.

• Each serving contains approximately 171 calories, 6 grams protein, 8 grams fat and 20 grams carbohydrate.

Key Nutrients

Vitamin C

•Helps produce collagen which is a connective tissue that holds muscles, bones and other body tissues together.

•Protects against infection.

•Enhances the absorption of iron and folate.

•Helps keep gums healthy.

•Works as an antioxidant in the body.


•Builds bone as it becomes a part of bone tissue and helps bones remain strong.

•Helps with muscle contractions in the body.

•Plays a key role in normal nerve function.

Vitamin D

•Promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorus.

• Regulates the amount of calcium in the blood.

•Helps keep bones strong.


•Helps maintain normal blood pressure.

•Helps transmit nerve impulses.

•Aids in muscle contraction.


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