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Low-Calorie Summer Sippers

Let's drink to summer -- the healthy way

Healthy Beverages with NO Calories

In the interest of cutting excess calories, it behooves us all to avoid regular sodas and other sweetened drinks when possible. The best way to do this is to drink no-calorie beverages instead. Some of the more obvious options are flavored mineral waters, seltzer water with a slice of lemon or lime, diet sodas in moderate amounts, and plain tea and coffee.

It gets even better when the beverages contain substances that may help protect your health! Green and black tea contain phytochemicals (flavonols and catechins) thought to have health benefits. Most of the studies suggesting cancer-protective effects have been carried out with green tea, but black tea may also have protective qualities.

Antioxidants make up a third of the weight of dried tea leaves. And one of these antioxidants is EGCG, which was shown to slow the buildup of artery-clogging plaque in mice in a recent study.

Keep in mind that when it comes to the phytochemicals in tea, freshly brewed is best. Apparently, bottled teas have less of these phytochemicals than freshly brewed tea.

Iced Tea Tips

Iced tea is a great summer sipper as long as it isn't sweetened. I've found that nicely flavored ice tea doesn't need any sweeteners at all. And any great flavored tea can be turned into iced tea, just by chilling the pitcher in the refrigerator after it is brewed.

One of my favorite iced teas is Paradise brand Tropical Tea (Premium black tea with tropical fruit nectars), available in decaffeinated too.

If you can spare a few calories, create your own iced tea drink by blending your favorite iced tea with 100% fruit juice or nectar. Start by mixing 1/2 cup of ice tea with 1/2 cup of fruit juice or nectar, then taste. Add more of either until you get it just right!

Coffee House Hints

If you are looking for zero-calorie, high-flavor beverages, coffee and tea can fill that bill. They have no calories when you drink them in their "brewed with nothing added" form. Trouble is, we often pump them up with syrups, honey, sugar, whipping cream, etc.

"When we dress up coffee, we can easily go from zero around
250-500 calories."

Add the word "mocha," or "caramel" to coffee, or the word "chai" or "tazo" to tea and it's a whole different ball game. When we dress up coffee, we can easily go from zero calories and zero grams of fat to around 250-500 calories and around 4-18 grams of fat.

To survive the coffeehouse without breaking your calorie bank account, follow these three general rules:

1. Skip the whipped cream. Say "yes" to "whip," and you've just bought yourself 130 calories and 12 grams of fat (8 grams of saturated fat and 50 mg cholesterol). I love whipping cream just as much as the next girl, so when I feel like adding it to my drink, I ask for "light whip" (I've found that a little goes a long way). But most of the time I just skip it, because what I am most looking forward to is the coffee flavor of the drink.

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