One of the keys to improving your diet is looking for practical ways
to increase your intake of health promoting nutrients and
phytochemicals. Ice cubes may seem like an unlikely way to further this
cause, but that all depends on what you use to make ice cubes. By using
coconut water or ginger and hibiscus tea, you can transform conventional
ice cubes into flavorful and healthful additions to common beverages
such as lemonade and mineral water.
According to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
upwards of 12% of children and 24% of adults regularly consume low or
no-calorie drinks. This emerging trend may be helping to lower the
overall intake of sugar sweetened beverages. However, the long term
implications of drinking more artificially sweetened
drinks and sodas is uncertain at best. What is clear is that this
current shift in refined beverage options doesn’t add any antioxidant or
nutrient density to the average diet.
A delicious, inexpensive and nutritious alternative to diet drinks
and sodas is the use of naturally flavored ice cubes. Typically, ice
cubes are obviously made of water. Having said that, in our household,
we frequently make ice cubes from coconut water, ginger tea
and hibiscus tea. Apart from the taste component, coconut water is an
excellent source of potassium – an essential electrolyte which is
commonly deficient in modern diets. Ginger tea is a potent, medicinal
ingredient that combats inflammation and has recently been shown to
improve arthritic symptoms, lung function and menopausal complaints.
Last, but not least, is hibiscus tea. This brilliant, redish tea is a
valuable source of antioxidants that addresses primary risk factors for
metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.
When making ice cubes, it’s advisable to use filtered water, organic herbal teas and pure (unsweetened) coconut water.
In addition, I suggest ice cube trays which are certified BPA-free. In
our home, we add these and other flavored ice cubes to iced tea,
homemade lemonade and sparkling mineral water. If more sweetness is
desired, try adding some liquid monk fruit or stevia extract to the tea
before filling the ice cube tray. Enjoy!