One of the greatest pleasures of coming in from a cold, blustery winter day, is wrapping your hands around a mug of something warm and delicious. And when the warm beverage happens to be filled with something that is good for the body too—you get some of the most potent and soothing support for lasting health and wellness.
Here are some top winter drinks that warm and comfort, while actively working to support lasting health.
Miso is a traditional Japanese food produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and kōji (a special fungi fermentation starter). Sometimes rice, barley, seaweed, or other ingredients are added for additional flavor. Miso is rich in essential minerals and a good source of various B vitamins, vitamins E, K, and folic acid. As a fermented food, miso provides the gut with beneficial bacteria that help us to stay healthy, vibrant, and happy.
In a recent study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, regular miso intake was found to lessen the effects of salt on blood pressure, reduce inflammatory responses such as SNA (sympathetic nerve activity), and lower blood pressure and heart rate. (1)
While most often considered a soup ingredient and consumed at the beginning of a meal, miso beverages can be consumed at any time. Some drink it in the morning instead of coffee. Others like to add tofu and scallions or maybe some chopped mushrooms and grated carrots. There are quite a few recipes online that reveal just how versatile this traditional food can be.
Research demonstrating the health benefits of red wine has grown in recent years. One study published in the journal Molecules showed that a small amount of wine consumption may prevent certain chronic issues because of the presence of antioxidants in red wine. This includes resveratrol, which is great for heart health because it neutralizes free radicals. Resveratrol also penetrates the blood-brain barrier and, thus, protects the brain and nerve cells. (2)
The antioxidants in red wine make it a better immune-supporting choice when considering a beverage to celebrate the holidays. One way to make wine more interesting—and healthy— is to consider an alternative “old school” classic: Mulled wine.
Usually served around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, mulled wine (or spiced wine) is warmed red wine mixed with mulling spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, allspice). Some recipes will add other spices such as cardamom, peppercorn, or star anise and fruits (freshly squeezed oranges, raisins, apples).
Like red wine, research into the health benefits of chocolate continues to grow. A number of studies have found that chocolate consumption lowers blood pressure and may have other positive health effects. Some findings show that the antioxidants in chocolate can help improve digestion issues, reduce inflammation, and improve neurodegenerative concerns and cardiovascular issues. (3)
Raw dark chocolate or cacao powder is best when making hot cocoa. Next, it’s a matter of taste. Whole milk or an alternative like coconut milk can be used for the liquid, and maybe add some vanilla or sea salt, even a little peppermint. Cocoa has a slight, naturally sweet flavor on its own and can even be enjoyed straight, without added sugars.
A staple of traditional Asian cultures, green tea has long been considered one of the healthiest choices for hot beverages. Like red wine and dark chocolate, green tea is a great source of antioxidants and has been proven beneficial in protecting against cardiovascular and neurodegenerative concerns, among other benefits. (4)
Adding fresh lemon zest, honey, and warming herbs such as cardamon can add flavor and boost the health benefits of this time-honored longevity drink.
There is a large variety of herbal teas available. Many are considered to be good sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants that can help in supporting a healthy immune system and other areas. A few examples include:
- Ginger root for its anti-inflammatory properties
- Sage for help with liver function
- Chamomile for digestive soothing and healing
- Yerba maté for cardiovascular protection(5)
Apple Cider Vinegar
For thousands of years, vinegar has been used to flavor and preserve food, clean, and heal the body. Recent research has found that consuming vinegar reduces the glucose to carbohydrate load in healthy adults and in individuals with diabetes. (6)
A simple recipe is to just add two tablespoons of cider vinegar to twelve ounces of hot water and then add a little lemon, and some honey to help cut the sharpness of the vinegar. Other spices like cinnamon or nutmeg can be added as well.
Functional Mushroom Coffee
A new trend in nutrition is functional mushroom coffee. There are a variety of products on the market now, all touting their own health benefits, thanks to the remarkable health promoting properties of functional mushrooms.
Adding mushroom powder to your morning drink can give you an additional boost and help your immune system defend you throughout the day.
For intensive mushroom support, ecoNugenics best-selling immune formula, botanically enhanced MycoPhyto mushroom blend, can be mixed in hot water, tea, or coffee—offering a powerful and easy way to fortify your morning ritual for optimal wellness and support against occasional colds and flu.*
(1) Review of the health benefits of habitual consumption of miso soup: focus on the effects of sympathetic nerve activity, blood pressure, and heart rate. Ito, K. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine. August, 31, 2020. 23, Article number: 45. https://environhealthprevmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12199-020-00883-4
(4) Prasanth, M.I., Sivamaruthi, B.S., Chaiyasut, C., Tencomnao, T. A review of the rolf of green tea (camellia sinensis) in antiphotoaging, stress resistance, neuroprotection and autophagy.Nutrients. 2019 Feb; 11(2): 474
(5) A. Shahidi, F. Herbal beverages: bioactive compounds and their role in disease risk reduction – a review. Chandrasekara, Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2018 Oct; 8(4): 451-458.
(6) Johnston, C.S., Gaas, C.A. Vinegar: medicinal uses and anti glycemic effect. Medscape General Medicine. 2006: 8(2): 61.
(7) Valverde, M.E., Hernadez-Perez, T., Paredes-Lopez, O. Edible mushrooms: improving human health and promoting quality life. International Journal of Microbiology. 2015; 2015: 376387.