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Level 3: Low-Fat (1%) or Skim (fat-free) Milk and Unsweetened/Fortified Soymilk
Milk is an important source of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Through fortification, it is also a good source of Vitamin D. Fortified soymilk is a good alternative with many of the same benefits.
Level 4: Non-Caloric, Artificially-Sweetened Beverages
This category includes diet soda, diet drinks, and artificially-sweetened drinks, teas and coffees. Although the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved non-caloric sweeteners as safe, some studies suggest that diet drinks condition adults to have a higher preference for sweets. These teas and coffees also contain caffeine. (See level 2 above for guidelines.)
Level 5: Caloric Beverages with Some Nutritional Benefits
This category includes fruit and vegetable juices, sports drinks, whole and reduced-fat (2%) milk, sweetened or flavored milk, and alcohol. Many vegetable juices are high in sodium, so select low-sodium varieties. Fruit smoothies are considered high-calorie versions of fruit drinks and should be enjoyed sparingly.
100% Fruit & Vegetable Juices and Smoothies provide nutrients in their natural state, but lack fiber and some of the nutrients that are found in whole fruits and vegetables, which should be eaten for satiety and caloric balance.
Recommended Daily Fruit Juice Consumption: 0-1 serving (0-8 ounces)
Calories Provided per Serving: 100-150
Recommended Daily Vegetable Juice Consumption: 0-1 serving daily (0-8 ounces)
Calories Provided per Serving: 50-100
Sports Drinks were designed for endurance athletes who need to replace electrolytes, sodium, chloride, and potassium levels that are diminished during endurance events.
Recommended General Consumption: Drink very sparingly.
Recommended Consumption for Endurance Athletic Events (strenuous activity that lasts over 90 minutes): 0-2 servings (0-16 ounces)
Calories Provided per Serving: 0-40
Whole Milk and 2% Milk contain a significant amount of calories, fat, and saturated fat, so they are not recommended.
Recommended Daily Consumption: 0 servings
Calories Provided per Serving: 120-160
Sweetened or Flavored Low-Fat Milk products contain the same nutrients as low-fat dairy products (Level 3), but more calories due to the added sweeteners.
Recommended Consumption: Drink very sparingly.
Calories Provided per Serving: 150-160
Alcoholic Beverages, when consumed in moderation, have some health benefits for adults, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and gallstones. Moderate intake of alcoholic beverages has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, while excessive alcohol consumption causes serious health and social problems. Pregnant women should NOT drink alcoholic beverages due to the increased risk of birth defects.
Recommended Daily Consumption for Adult Women who Choose to Drink Alcohol: 0-1 serving
Recommended Daily Consumption for Adult Men who Choose to Drink Alcohol: 0-2 servings
One serving of alcohol is: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits
Calories Provided per Serving: 100-200
Level 6: Caloric, Sweetened Beverages without Nutritional Benefits
This category includes soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, fruit cocktail, fruit aid, and caloric/sweetened teas and coffees. These foods are higher in calories and have little (if any) nutritional benefit. Caloric sweeteners have been linked to poor dental health, excess caloric intake, weight gain, and Type 2 diabetes. Some studies suggest that sweet, flavored drinks can condition adults to have a higher preference for the taste of sweetness. These drinks should be limited as much as possible.
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.
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