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Heading into the new year with a resolution to drink less alcohol? Perhaps you've even committed to a "Dry January" without any alcohol whatsoever?
To help make the transition to a dry month easier, read on to discover some delicious, satisfying, non-alcoholic beverage alternatives.
6 healthy non-alcoholic drinks
1. Ginger beer
Ginger root has all kinds of great health benefits, so why not up your ginger intake by sipping on a tasty ginger beer?
No, no ginger ale, but ginger beer – a fermented product that is brewed from real ginger root. While ginger ale is just another sugar-flavored soda, ginger beer is much healthier and has a stronger, spicier ginger flavor. Just don't let the name scare you off – ginger beer doesn't usually contain any alcohol at all.
The trick with ginger beer is to pick the right brand. Some brands of ginger beers can be high in sugars and contain artificial ginger flavors, which is something you will want to avoid. Take a look at the nutrition facts label to make sure you are choosing a brand that is low in sugar. Words like "light" or "low-sugar" on the bottle can help point you in the right direction.
2. Seltzer water with creative mix-ins
If you are looking for the bubbly, refreshing effect that your favorite alcoholic drink might have had to offer, consider making flavored sparkly water your new go-to choice. A basic glass of seltzer water can be quickly livened up with fresh citrus juice like lemon or lime; chopped pieces of fresh fruit or vegetables like strawberry, blueberries, mango, or cucumber; and even fresh herbs like mint, rosemary, or basil.
Experiment to find your favorite combinations such as lemon, cucumber, and mint or blackberry and basil. Bonus points for making your drink extra appealing with a variety of colors from natural ingredients.
There are countless different types of teas out there in the world, so why not use this time to explore as many as you can? From herbal teas to fruity teas to teas with unique, distinctive flavors, have fun trying the different varieties and seeing what you like best. Many grocery stores have a substantial-enough selection to experiment with, but if you are really interested try visiting a teahouse that specializes in unique tea varieties.
The great news is that tea isn't just free from alcohol, sugar, and other unhealthy ingredients. Tea itself is also known to be associated with a long list of health benefits like fighting inflammation, lowering blood sugar, and more.
And remember, many teas can be enjoyed warm or cold. So don't forget that you can enjoy a refreshing glass of tea over ice anytime you might have otherwise reached for a mixed drink or other cold beverage.
4. Kombucha and other fermented probiotic drinks
Kombucha is made by fermenting tea and sugar, which creates the end result of a fizzy, low-sugar drink that contains active bacteria called probiotics. These probiotics, similar to what you'd find in other fermented foods like yogurt or kimchi, are thought to provide many different health benefits. In addition, you might also gather benefits from the tea itself that the kombucha is made from – green tea, for example, is touted for many different health effects.[3,4]
Just be sure to choose a brand low in sugar, as some can be heavily sweetened. And don't drink too much at once (limit to about four ounces at a time).
Missing your old favorite mixed drinks at happy hour? Use healthy ingredients like sparkling water, fresh citrus juices, fruits, herbs, and ginger beer to create creative "mocktails" that taste like the real thing without the drawbacks of alcohol, sugar, and calories.
For example, mix up non-alcoholic mojitos with lime juice, mint, and sparkling water. Or make a festive sangria alternative with cranberry juice, seltzer, and a selection of your favorite fruits like whole cranberries, chopped apples, and orange slices.
Truly, the gold standard when it comes to healthy beverages is plain water. It might sound boring, but adding in a few more glasses of fresh water instead of alcoholic drinks can do wonders for your health. So try not to underestimate the power of water and get in the habit of pouring yourself a glass with ice a little more often.
Who ever said Dry January had to be boring? You don't have to feel like you are going without this month if you get creative with healthy alcohol alternatives and find some new favorites to add to your rotation.
Give ginger beer, kombucha, mocktails, tea, and dressed up seltzer water a try. There are endless combinations and delicious recipes to experiment with when using just a few simple and healthy ingredients.
Who knows, you might just even find a few non-alcoholic favorites that stick with you long after Dry January is over, supporting you in making healthy beverage swaps all year long.
Anh NH, Kim SJ, Long NP, et al. Ginger on Human Health: A Comprehensive Systematic Review of 109 Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 6;12(1):157.
Tang GY, Meng X, Gan RY, et al. Health Functions and Related Molecular Mechanisms of Tea Components: An Update Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Dec 8;20(24):6196.
Leal JM, Suárez LC, Jayabalan R, Oros JH, Escalante-Aburto A. A review on health benefits of kombucha nutritional compounds and metabolites. CyTA Journal of Food. 2018;16(1):390-399.
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