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Water - A Preferred Beverage of Choice
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Refreshing Water Options for Summer

by Jennifer Fleming, MS, RD, and Penn Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University

A good hydration status is important for the normal body functioning of all organs, tissues and cells. Since there are so many beverage choices available, how can we best achieve optimal hydration status? The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee made specific recommendations about beverages and concluded the following: make water a preferred beverage choice. Water should be the preferred beverage to satisfy all fluid needs and quench thirst. The Report also advised that water should be readily accessible in public settings, child care facilities, schools, worksites and other community places where beverages are offered. So, we all should have water easily accessible and drink ample quantities.

We recommend that you try to drink at least eight glasses of water each day (8 oz). The American Heart Association recognizes that the amount of water a person needs is related to many factors including their health condition. For instance, heart disease patients require a balance of fluids and electrolytes to minimize the workload of their heart. Click here if you are a heart disease patient and would like more information.  

Drinking 8 glasses of water may be challenging. There are many strategies, however, that can help meet this water recommendation. There are many refreshing options, especially as it gets warmer. For instance, add a lemon, lime or orange wedge (along with the juice and some pulp) to add a zesty citrus flavor, or infuse your water with a few sprigs of mint to give it a cool fresh taste with a hint of sweetness. After boiling vegetables, such as carrots, preserve the water and chill it overnight for a vitamin-packed burst of flavor.

You can also enjoy a bubbly water beverage such as seltzer water or sparkling mineral water flavored with fruit. Just make sure that the soda water is sodium-free. The virtue of water is that it is calorie-free and there are endless ways to make it enjoyable and thirst-quenching. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show how substituting four high-calorie beverages with a low-calorie beverage like water can eliminate almost 800 calories: www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/drinks.html

Check out the 10 refreshing fruit and vegetable recipes below for additional ways to increase your water intake:

Sassy Water

8.5 cups water

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 medium cucumber, sliced thin

1 medium lemon, sliced thin

12 spearmint leaves

Combine the ingredients into a large pitcher and refrigerate overnight. Strain and drink.

Citrus Cucumber Water

1 large lemon, sliced

1 large lime, sliced

1 large orange, sliced

1 large cucumber, sliced

0.5 gallon of water

Place all the fruits and vegetables in a glass pitcher and add water. Allow to infuse for two hours. Serve over ice.

Orange Mint Water

3 large oranges, sliced

10 mint leaves

1 half gallon of water

Place mint and orange slices in a pitcher and add water. Infuse for two hours. Pour over ice and serve garnished with an orange slice and a sprig of mint.

Cucumber Melon Water

1 large cucumber, sliced

1 quarter honeydew melon, cubed

1 quarter cantaloupe, cubed

1 half gallon of water

Place melon and cucumber in a glass pitcher and add water. Allow to rest, refrigerated, for two hours. Serve over ice.

Watermelon Basil Water

1.5 cups of seedless watermelon, cubed

10-12 basil leaves

0.5 gallon water

Pour water over melon and basil. Refrigerate for two hours. Pour over ice and serve garnished with a sprig of basil.

Citrus Cilantro Water

1 large lemon, sliced

1 large lime, sliced

1 large orange, sliced

0.25 cup cilantro leaves

Pour water over citrus fruits and cilantro. Refrigerate for two hours. Pour over ice and serve garnished with an orange slice and a sprig of cilantro.

Citrus Cucumber Water

1 large lemon, sliced

1 large lime, sliced

1 large orange, sliced

1 large cucumber, sliced

0.5 gallon of water

Place all the sliced fruits and the cucumber in a glass pitched and add water. Allow to rest, refrigerated,  for two hours. Serve over ice.

Cucumber Herb Water

5 cups water

10 thin slices cucumber

2 lemon slices

2 sprigs of fresh mint

3 sprigs of rosemary

Put water in pitcher and add lemon and cucumber slices. Crush mint and rosemary to release flavor, then add them to the pitcher. Refrigerate for several hours. Serve over ice in tall glasses. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Herb and Berry Water

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary that are 4 inches and lightly bruised (to release flavor)

1 cup fresh blueberries, lightly crushed

0.5 gallon water

Add blueberries and rosemary sprigs to a large pitcher. Fill the pitcher with the half gallon of water and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Serve over ice.

Frozen Fruit Water

2 cups frozen apple chunks, grapes, or berries

0.5 gallon water

Add frozen fruit to pitcher. Pour water over the fruit in the pitcher and refrigerate for at least 30 min. Stir to distribute the fruit flavor. Serve over ice.

Note: you can chop up the same kind of fruit, unfrozen, and follow the same directions. You'll need to use more ice when serving the unfrozen fruit-flavored water.

Flavored water recipes courtesy of RachelRay.com

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