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Eat Healthier: 4 Smart Food Moves

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Drink to Your Health

The average American consumes more than 53 gallons of sugary soft drinks a year, even though this may raise the risk for hypertension, pancreatic cancer, and tooth decay. Soda is the worst offender; each can ups your risk of becoming overweight. Diet sodas may be only the lesser of two evils, since there's evidence that their artificial sweeteners mess with the body's ability to regulate calorie intake. To hydrate the healthier way:

Wean Yourself Off Soda

First, limit the damage by switching to diet. When you're ready to give it up altogether, try substituting your own homemade carbonated drink by mixing equal parts orange juice and sparkling water, suggests Jackie Newgent, RD, a New York City?based culinary nutritionist. "You still get the fizz, but with some vitamin C -- naturally," she says.

Get Your Buzz from Coffee or Tea

These caffeinated beverages do count toward your hydration needs; they're virtually calorie-free and pack loads of healthy antioxidants, unlike soda. If you add milk, make it skim. And get your fix between, rather than with, meals -- compounds called tannins in coffee and tea block iron absorption from food by up to 94 percent.

Squeeze More out of Fruit

Juice gets a bad rap for being sugary and high in calories. But it can also be a great source of antioxidants, as long as you choose 100 percent juice and stick to an 8-ounce serving. Try a mug of warm cider, which contains cholesterol-lowering phenols.

Make It a Virgin

Alcohol has seven calories per gram, almost as much as pure fat. When you want a fun, fancy drink and not a hangover, try blending mango, pineapple, lemon juice, and rum extract for a virgin daiquiri that's packed with beta-carotene and vitamin C.

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