by Katie Haarala, R.D.

I’m sure you’ve heard some of the food mantras for eating well such as, “eat your greens” “5 a day for better health” “make half your grains whole” and “you’re gonna SIT there until you finish your supper or you’re not getting any dessert, and I mean it, Kathryn!” Ok, perhaps that last one is more narrowly aimed, but let me tell you, threatening to take away my dessert rights was enough to make me eat sauerkraut (and my imagination closely relates the taste of sauerkraut to dirty gym socks.)

What if I told you that we could also derive health benefits from the beverages we consume? It’s true.  I am sorry to say the energy drinks, sodas, and frappuccino’s will not top the list; in fact, they are rock bottom, having the opposite effect. So, if the stifling sugar content of some of the most popular beverages can’t prompt you to make a switch, perhaps the health benefits of the following beverages will.

Tea- Believed to be the world’s most popular “super-food” beverage, it is a drink you’ll want to include often.  Tea is known to be high in the powerful antioxidants flavonoids. They are beneficial for your overall health and may help reduce your risk of certain cancers.  This popular beverage and it’s hailed nutrient content is also believed to help lower risk of heart disease and stroke with regular consumption. 

Red Wine– A glass in moderation has shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as raise HDL (good) cholesterol.  It also contains the antioxidant resveratrol, an added bonus for your health.  Remember, the idea is moderation, approximately a 5 ounce serving for women and 10 ounce serving for men a day

Side Note: Do you have difficulty remembering which form of cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol and which is the “bad”? This trick used to help me in my studies: HDL (Healthy-good) LDL (lousy-bad).  There, now you’ll never forget!

Water- Does this seem like an obvious one? We are made of water; therefore, we must consume enough of it to remain healthy.  Appropriate hydration allows our organs to work efficiently as the brain is approximately 74% water, the muscles 75% and the blood 83%.  Leading to this important point: hydrate yourself properly.

Hot Cocoa– Perhaps this may be deceiving, and I would hate to mislead you.  Specifically, the benefit is stemming from the cocoa powder (not all the tasty sugar and rich milk), which is antioxidant-laden and has cardiovascular disease fighting properties. A homemade cup of dark chocolate cocoa is the way to go; purchase 70-100% coca powder to reap the maximum benefits. 

KTP’s Devilish Hot Cocoa


1 cup Almond Milk

1 tsp.  100% cocoa powder

1 red chile

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper


  1. In medium saucepan, combine chocolate, milk and red chile. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. 
  2. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and cayenne pepper.  Stir to incorporate.  Boil for 1 minute.  Remove chile from hot cocoa mixture and enjoy!
  3. Note: Understand this is not a super sweet hot chocolate, but one that is rich and sure to please.  With about 65 calories, and the ability to cure my sweet tooth, it is a go-to option when I am craving some chocolate! The natural sweetness of the almond milk satisfies; if need be, add an additional tsp . of sugar can be added.

Are you feeling like the soda is a less than exemplary option? It surely doesn’t provide any of the aforementioned benefits. Now that you’re more beverage savvy,  you’re on your way to making healthier drink selections! Which will you choose first?

To read more of Katie’s Health & Wellness Advice on Click Here!

About Katie

Kate Paige Haarala is a registered dietitian (R.D.) from Minnesota who has an undying passion for nutrition education and helping others incorporate healthy dishes into their daily menu.  She graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Food, Nutrition & Dietetics along with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Exercise Science. You can catch more of Katie on her blog by clicking here.