The goal of the Beverage Guidance Panel is to give guidance on the use of healthy and unhealthy beverages. The panel reviews current literature and gives consumer guidance. One issue that the panel reviews is the contribution of beverages to current rates of obesity. In the United States there is a recent increase of average intake of 150-300 kcal per day, with half of those calories coming from calorically sweetened beverages. For Americans, 21% of calories come from beverages. From 1977 to 2001, average portion size of beverages increased from 13.6 fl. oz. to 21.0 fl. oz.
There is evidence that calories consumed as beverages are not registered in the body the same way as calories in solids. Calories in liquids are not compensated by a later automatic reduction of calorie intake in solids as needed for appetite regulation. There is a difference in the way that the body handles sugars which are consumed as liquids and those sugars consumed as solids. In one study 450 calories consumed as liquids caused a weight gain that was not seen by eating 450 calories as solids.
The best beverage for human consumption is clean drinking water, which has no side effects. Coffee and tea contain antioxidants and flavonoids. Coffee drinking reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Boiled coffee raises total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, but filtered coffee does not cause a change in lipid profile. Tea contains the amino acid, theanine and tea reduces cardiovascular disease risk, kidney stones, and tooth decay, while increasing bone density. The addition of milk or sugar calories to beverages lowers the value of the drink in this guidance system.
CONCLUSION: The Beverage Guidance Panel advises the following ranking of beverages: Water is best, followed in order by tea, coffee, low-fat and skim milk, soy drinks, non-calorically sweetened beverages such as fruit and vegetable juices, whole milk, alcohol, sports drinks and calorically sweetened, nutrient-poor beverages. The authors recommend that beverage size be reduced to 8 fl. oz. Whole fruits and vegetables are preferred to juices. It is best if over 60% of our fluids are calorie-free and 100% is even better.
NOTE: The best amount of water to be consumed daily is unknown. The suggestion that we need 8 glasses of water per day was not determined scientifically.