If you’re looking for a drink that can deliver good health, energy, or workout recovery, your first instinct might be to pick up a bottle of a popular sports drink or some “vitamin water.”  But you’re better off leaving those on the shelf.

A growing body of evidence points to old-school beverages -- tea, coffee and low-fat or even chocolate milk -- as the best elixirs for nutrition, health and workout recovery.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a nonprofit scientific society, recommends these “retro” drinks for their long list of health benefits.

TEA

For hundreds of years, ancient cultures have relied on tea for medicinal purposes. Now modern science is figuring out why.

Tea is an antioxidant-rich beverage containing more polyphenols than many fruits and vegetables. Besides being rich in compounds that combat cell-damaging oxidative stress, tea has a chemical makeup that includes enzymes, carbohydrates, protein, and lipids.

Oxidative stress is a molecular imbalance that interferes with the body’s ability to detoxify harmful compounds leading to cellular damage and is associated with chronic health problems such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer.

Packed with compounds that protect cells from oxidative stress, tea has emerged as a natural dietary aid to lower the risk of these ailments.

Research indicates that tea strengthens the body’s immune system, reduces buildup of plaque on arterial walls, and aids in the control and prevention of diabetes.

COFFEE

Like tea, coffee is packed with polyphenols, and it actually has a higher content of antioxidants than green or black tea and other beverages such as fruit and vegetables juices.

New research has suggested that coffee consumption can lower cardiovascular risks as well as lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 50 percent.

Coffee also appears to have a positive effect on neurological diseases with coffee consumption possibly reducing the risk of both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

MILK

It is widely known that milk is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D and it helps build teeth and bone mass during childhood and adolescence.

Recent research findings detail the benefits of whole, low-fat, and chocolate milk when it comes to overall nutrition, bone density, weight loss, muscle-building and more.

Other research indicates that when consumed after resistance training, both unflavored and chocolate-flavored versions of reduced-fat milk, improve muscle development, enhance strength, and increase fat loss.

Food Technology magazine is published by the Institute of Food Technologists. Read the full article here.