The Beverage Guidance Panel distilled its advice into a six-level pitcher, much as food experts have done with the food pyramid. The group published its recommendations in the March 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Here are the descriptions of two levels of six-level pitcher :
Level 1: Water
Water provides everything the body needs—pure H2O—to restore fluids lost through metabolism, breathing, sweating, and the removal of waste. It's the perfect beverage for quenching thirst and rehydrating your system. When it comes from the tap, it costs a fraction of a penny per glass. Water should be the beverage you turn to most of the time.
Level 2: Tea
After water, tea is the two most commonly consumed beverages on the planet. Drunk plain, they are calorie-free beverages brimming with antioxidants, flavonoids, and other biologically active substances that may be good for health. Up to three or four cups of tea a day appear to be fine. Green tea, especially the strong variety served in Japan, has received attention for its potential role in protecting against heart disease, while coffee may help protect against type 2 diabetes. (2, 3) More research on the health benefits of tea and coffee is needed, but one thing is for certain: The addition of cream, sugar, whipped cream, and flavorings can turn tea from a healthful beverage into a not-so-healthful one. For example, a 16-ounce Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino with Chocolate Whipped Cream contains 470 calories. Tucked in this beverage (which is actually closer to a dessert) are 12 grams of saturated fat—nearly a day's worth—and 71 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 17 teaspoons of sugar. (4) Keep in mind that for pregnant women, the jury is still out on whether high coffee or caffeine intakes increase the risk of miscarriage, but it seems prudent to limit caffeinated beverages to one cup per day. (For more information about coffee and chronic disease, see Ask the Expert: Coffee and Health.)