Making Smart Beverage Choices

We get a substantial number of calories from the beverages we drink – on average it is about 400 calories per day. The calorie content of beverages can vary widely, and some of the beverages with the highest intake we commonly consume provide calories but few or no essential nutrients.
Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Many sugar-sweetened drinks are high in calories and low in other nutrients.  The average 12 oz can of soda or fruit punch provides about 150 calories and about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Beverage calories add up and can contribute to weight gain.  Generally, when we drink a sugar-sweetened beverage, we do not compensate for these extra calories by eating less later in the day or by exercising more.
Non-Caloric Sweeteners​

Non-caloric sweeteners are chemically made or processed and provide sweetness to foods and drinks without adding any extra calories. You will find them in most diet or low-calorie food products.

Replacing added sugars with non-caloric sweeteners may reduce calorie intake in the short-term, yet questions remain about their effectiveness as a weight management strategy.
Click here for more information about the various types of non-caloric sweeteners.
Water is often an overlooked beverage but certainly one to encourage children and adults to consume.  It contains no calories, it is free, and it is generally a widely available choice.  Go “green” and carry water with you in a reusable bottle. Plain drinking water is available free of charge in all NIH cafes. Just ask if you do not see a dispenser.
To make plain water a bit more exciting, add a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon, or try sparkling water.
The amount of water each of us needs depends on a variety of factors, including our level of physical activity or exposure to heat stress.  Generally, the combination of thirst and typical behaviors, such as drinking beverages with meals, provides sufficient total water intake. Total water intake includes water from fluids (drinking water and other beverages) and the water that is contained in foods.
Intake of milk and fortified soy beverages is linked to improved bone health. Nutrients provided by these beverages (such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein) play an in important role in the health and maintenance of your body.

Intake of dairy products is especially important to bone health during childhood and adolescence when bone mass is being built. To learn more about the importance of calcium-rich beverages, visit the NICHD Milk Matters” website.
When drinking milk, aim for fat-free or low-fat (1%) choices since they are lower in saturated fat. Diets high in saturated fats can raise your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol levels in the blood, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Rethinking Drinking – Alcohol and Your Health
Drinking alcohol can be beneficial or harmful, depending on how much you drink, your age, and your health status.  The National Insitute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has created a research-based website that help you learn about the impact of alcohol on your health.

Drinking Calculators