Dec. 31, 2011 -- Some drinks are often more marketing than medicine: Knowing that wellness sells, manufacturers slap the word "immunity" on labels or sprinkle them with token buzzwords such as "superfruits" or "natural energy." But do the drinks give you a real edge against illness? Nah.
"You can learn more from the ingredient list on the back than from the words on the front packaging," says Lisa Hark, an associate professor at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and the author of Nutrition for Life. Still, a handful of brands do deliver.
"Drinks with the right nutrients can help your immune system function at its peak and reduce a cold's symptoms," Hark says.
Look for beverages that are high in vitamin C and/or zinc (at least 100 percent of your daily value for C and 25 percent for zinc), made from real fruit, rich in additional antioxidants, and less than 175 calories for each serving.
Bolthouse Farms C-Boost
An 8-ounce serving of this fruit smoothie provides more than 100 percent of your recommended daily vitamin C, plus 100 percent of your zinc. It's a sweet blend of mango, cherry, and camu-camu, a fruit from the Amazon that's rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.
Per 8 oz serving: 150 calories, 1 gram (g) protein, 37 g carbohydrates (1 g fiber, 29 g sugar)
Pom Wonderful Pomx Shot
One 3-ounce serving of this high-octane juice serves up 30 percent more polyphenols than an 8-ounce, 150-calorie serving of regular Pom. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that may help strengthen immunity on the cellular level, say researchers from Spain. Find out more ways to strengthen your immune system with our 8-point plan.
Per 3 oz serving: 100 calories, 24 g carbohydrates (20 g sugar)
Naked Juice Berry Veggie
This tart smoothie gives you more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin C, plus antioxidants from cherries, strawberries, plums, and purple carrots. Sweet potato and chickpeas help keep the sugar and calorie count down while making the drink more filling (one bottle holds almost two servings).
Per 8 oz serving: 130 calories, 5 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates (5 g fiber, 18 g sugar)
By combining OJ and pineapple juice with mango, peach, and plum purees, this smoothie packs more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin C and contains a blend of other antioxidants that support your immune system. It also delivers 25 percent of your daily zinc.
Per 12 oz serving: 170 calories, 3 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 33 g sugar)
Lifeway BioKefir Pomegranate/Blueberry
This yogurtlike drink delivers 100 percent of your daily vitamin C and Bifidobacterium lactis, a probiotic that may fortify immunity, according to a 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Per 3.5 oz serving: 60 calories, 5 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates (10 g sugar)
Looking for drinks to avoid? Steer clear of The Unhealthiest Juices in America.
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