If you want to better your health without completely overhauling your diet, give a little thought to what you’re pouring into your glass or mug. Compelling research shows that these three beverages have surprising perks:
Beer. It gets a bad rap for having a lot of calories and contributing to gout flares, but several studies have shown that moderate beer drinking is associated with a reduced osteoporosis risk. A University of California, Davis, study helps explain why: Beer is a rich source of dietary silicon, a trace mineral that helps grow and maintain bones and connective tissue.
Bottom line: “Should you start drinking beer to build stronger bones? No,” says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. “But if you already enjoy a beer once in a while, don’t feel guilty about it – you may be benefiting your bones.”
Cherry juice. Research from the Baylor Research Institute in Dallas found that tart cherries in pill form relieved pain in people with osteoarthritis. A more recent study from Northumbria University in the U.K. found that marathoners, after drinking tart cherry juice for five days before race, had lower levels of inflammation and oxidative stress after the race than marathoners who drank a placebo beverage.
Bottom line: “The antioxidants in tart cherries work in inflammatory pathways, so it’s feasible that they shut down pain-causing inflammation,” says Sandon. But tart cherry juice is pucker-worthy, so don’t swap your OJ for it unless you can down it without sugar.
White tea. Researchers at Kingston University in the U.K. tested 21 plant and herb extracts, including green and black tea, and found white tea was the healthiest of the bunch. Not only is it high in antioxidants, it also reduced the activities of the enzymes collagenase and elastase – which break down collagen and elastin, two crucial connective tissue components, and are believed to promote inflammation. The extract tested was less than the amount you’d find in a cup of tea.
Bottom line: Pour yourself a cup! Sandon points out that in addition to these beneficial properties, calorie-free tea can help people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis keep their weight in check to minimize joint damage.