8 healthy hot drinks
Enjoying a warming drink can be a great way to relax, as long as you avoid those packed with sugar and fat. Rosalie Starling suggests eight heart-healthy options.
1. Fresh ginger tea
Warming, spicy ginger tea has a long history of use for stomach ache and nausea. To make it fresh, grate or slice a small piece of peeled ginger root. Pour boiled water over it and leave to brew for around 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can buy teabags in most supermarkets.
2. Fruit tea
If you fancy something fruity, flavoursome fruit tea is a good low-calorie option. There are dozens of different teabags and loose tea blends available. Check the labels and choose one that doesn’t contain sugar. And avoid teas that contain liquorice, which can increase your blood pressure.
3. Fresh mint tea
Mint tea is low in calories, a great palate cleanser and has traditionally been used to aid digestion. Wash and tear up a handful of mint leaves, add to a small teapot and top up with boiling water. Avoid Moroccan mint tea in restaurants, as it can be loaded with sugar.
4. Hot chocolate
A small hot chocolate from a high street coffee shop can contain nearly five teaspoons (20g) of sugar. These extra calories can cause weight gain, increasing your risk of heart disease. If it’s made with full-fat milk and topped with whipped cream, this will add more calories, and it will be high in saturated fat, which could affect your cholesterol levels. For a heart-healthy version, mix unsweetened cocoa powder with hot low-fat milk and low-calorie sweetener, if needed.
Coffee in moderation is fine, but a large latte made with whole milk can contain nearly 300 calories. If milky coffees are your thing, go for a smaller size and choose a ‘skinny’ version with low-fat milk to cut back on calories and saturated fat. Avoid flavoured drinks, such as vanilla or gingerbread lattes, which often contain sugary syrup. Want a little extra flavour? Sprinkle ground cinnamon on your cappuccino for sweetness without the extra calories.
6. Hot lemon
Squeeze fresh lemon juice into a mug, add an extra slice of lemon, and top up with boiling water. Hot water and lemon makes a good alternative to sugar-laden drinks such as lemonade, but try to have it with a meal as the acids in lemon juice can be damaging to teeth.
7. Green tea
Its health benefits are often exaggerated, and it does contain caffeine (it’s made from the same plant as black tea). But green tea is still a healthier alternative to drinks that are high in sugar and fat. Matcha lattes meanwhile, made from powdered green tea and milk, often contain hidden sugar. Make your own latte with hot low-fat milk whisked with pure matcha powder. Add low-calorie sweetener, if needed.
Chai is a tea made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices. It’s widely available as loose tea or teabags. Chai is a perfect low-calorie option for winter – but watch out for coffee shop chai lattes – some high street versions contain nearly 30g of sugar. To make a healthy version, add boiling water to a chai teabag and top up with warm low-fat milk to keep the saturated fat down.