Healthful Drinks with Actual Flavor!

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

I am a person who is quite content getting most of his fluid intake from water. I do drink green tea, coffee and pomegranate juice on a regular basis with some occasional wine and beer, but the vast majority of what I drink is water. I think it would be absolutely ideal if this were the case for most everybody, but unfortunately it is not, and many people just need to have more “flavor” in their lives.

In light of that I am always on the lookout for tasty but healthful drinks that people can consume. I have blogged about many of these options and their health benefits- coffee (here, here), white/green/oolong/black tea (here, here), rooibos tea (here, here), pomegranate juice (here), Steaz zero calorie sparkling green tea (here), and wine (here).

I have also written about why fruit juice sucks, and how consuming only 8oz of it per day was associated with an increased risk for diabetes. However, I will note that in an otherwise healthy and active person some moderate juice consumption will probably be just fine.

On the same topic I have discussed the ridiculousness of multi-level marketing drinks such as MonaVie and the like. While acai is a fine fruit, it is not what it has been made out to be. Utilizing several different methods of calculating antioxidant capacity and potency (ORAC, TEAC, DPPH, FRAP), as well as inhibition of LDL oxidation and total polyphenol content it came in 6th out of 10 drinks tested. Number 1? Pomegranate juice. Number 2? Red wine. As an interesting aside that I don’t think I have ever mentioned on this blog, the most effective way to increase HDL-C is from moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks per day).

Now having begun this blog with the longest preface in history, I wanted to touch on a some new data that I thought was rather interesting. While I have written quite a bit about the myriad health benefits of tea consumption, I came across some rather interesting data I had not heard before.

While I know that green tea (and the other members of the tea family) are beneficial to oral health, it was recently found that people who drink at least 1 cup of green tea per day had a decreased risk of tooth loss compared to people who did not drink any. It seems that the catechins in the green tea kill the mouth bacteria that are associated with gum disease and tooth decay.

What I also want to point out with this is that white tea actually contains the highest amount of catechins, while black tea contains the lowest. Now this doesn’t mean that black tea is not good for you, it most definitely is, but it probably won’t help much in the teeth department. Its fermentation process actually converts the catechins into other healthful compounds called theaflavins or thearubigins that decrease your risk of stroke. Enjoy a wide variety of teas for the greatest overall benefit to health.

On top of that, even though I wrote the above piece on why fruit juice sucks, if you insist on consuming a glass of OJ every morning (and who could blame you, it is delicious, but beware companies with poor production methods), here is some new data on the best options. While it seems intuitive that orange juice with pulp would be more nutritious since it does actually contain pieces of whole fruit, some researchers actually put this question to the test.

They found that if your OJ has pulp, it contains 30% more anti-inflammatory flavonoids and cancer-fighting limonoids than OJ without it. While this certainly isn’t earth-shattering stuff, it is nice to know that if you enjoy a small glass of OJ (maybe mixed with a small amount of pomegranate? – its delicious) at breakfast, getting it from a company that only uses oranges from the US and makes it fresh with pulp, you are maximizing its benefits and minimizing its negatives.

All in all, while I still recommend you consume plenty of plain water, there are clearly many ways to get in some flavorful drinks that provide tons of health benefits, minimal calories, and lots of flavor, so drink up!

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Posted on December 22nd, 2010 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. PBrazelton Says:

    Brian – what about kombucha? I got addicted to it a couple of years ago, brew my own, and love it. It’s based on black tea, but also uses a lot of white sugar. Any literature (non-anecdotal) on possible benefits or downsides?

  2. Brian St. Pierre Says:


    Kombucha is a fine drink. One of my classmates gave a presentation on it, and she found that there was very little data on actual health benefits. It was very high in antioxidants, and foods have been traditionally fermented to improve them for a long time. While I don’t think the literature is there, as long as you keep the serving size reasonable and don’t go overboard with the sugar, it is a fine drink.

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