Healthy drink choices
Today there are so many types of drinks available it is sometimes hard to know exactly which ones are the best choices. The Australian Dietary Guidelines clearly recommend the best choices are plain water and plain milk.
Most schools are equipped with drink fountains so water bottles brought from home can easily be filled. Plain water should be encouraged at all times. A tasty alternative is to add a slice or squeeze of lemon to water bottles. At home use a Soda Stream machine to make soda water and then add lemon or lime juice or some grated watermelon for a great fizzy alternative.
Children aged two years and under have relatively high energy requirements and are growing rapidly, so full cream milk, yoghurts and cheeses are recommended. For children over two years of age, reduced fat varieties are recommended. Many flavoured milk varieties are made using skim or reduced fat milk making them a great reduced fat option that also provides calcium and protein. Parents can also pop a flavoured milk straw and plain reduced fat milk in the school lunch box or purchase plain, chilled reduced fat milk from the canteen or food service. Flavoured milk, made with reduced fat milk – serve sizes that 375mL or less are green choices, larger than 375mL are amber.
Even though fruit juice contains various nutrients, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than a single 125mL serve of juice per day for children; this is the equivalent to one serve of fruit.
Sugar sweetened beverages
Soft drinks, cordials, sports drinks and other sweet drinks are not recommended as they contain high levels of added sugar and/or little or no nutritional value. Download more information on sports and energy drinks.
This table provides a summary of the different types of drinks available and their energy and sugar content.
|Bottled water (green)
|Vitamin water i.e. Balance (500mL) (red)||265||14.5||4|
|Flavoured water i.e. Pump (750mL) (red)||293||16.5||4|
|99% orange juice (250mL) no added sugar (amber)||375||16||4|
|25% orange juice, contains added sugar (red)||400||23||6|
|Carbonated 99% fruit juice i.e. apple (250mL) (amber)||433||26||6.5|
|Iced tea i.e lemon (325mL) (red)||380||22||5.5|
|Reduced fat milk i.e. Hilo (300mL carton) (green)||597||15.3||4|
|Flavoured choc milk (300mL carton) (green)||960||24.6||6|
|Full cream milk (300mL carton) (amber)||840||14||3.5|
|Supashakes i.e. choc honeycomb (500mL) (red)||1970||62.5||15.5|
|Energy drink i.e. Red Bull (330mL) (red)||634||35.3||9|
|Sports drink i.e. Powerade (600mL) (red)||798||36||9|
|Soft drink i.e. Solo (375mL) (red)||803||46.5||11.5|
|Boost Juice berry crush (450mL/medium) (red)||887||47.3||12|
|Boost Juice tropical smoothie (450mL/medium) (red)||1220||48||12|
Although the table shows that full cream milk and reduced fat contain sugar, it is lactose that naturally occurs in milk (i.e. not added sugar). Milk is an excellent source of calcium, especially for children. Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth and helps prevents osteoporosis later in life.
Although milk based, some milk based smoothies, milkshakes and thickshakes contain a lot of added sugar and fat. Remember plain milk is the best choice or perhaps flavoured with Milo or smoothies with added fruit.
Source: Catherine Saxelby, Nutrition for Life. 2002