As John Pemberton brewed up a batch of the first formulation of Coca-Cola in 1885, he probably never dreamed just how popular his drink would become. According to current company estimates, every day, distributors worldwide sell more than 1.4 billion servings of Coke, which Pemberton originally marketed as a health tonic capable of curing everything from headaches to morphine addiction. Recently, researchers have made us quite aware that Coke and its fellow soft drinks are anything but healthy. In fact, if you drink just one 12-ounce soft drink a day, you're consuming 55,000 calories of the stuff in a year, which is roughly equivalent to 15 pounds of fat. So what's a person in need of a refreshment to do? Here are four healthy and delicious alternatives:

  • Tea. Cancer fighter, weight reducer, bone builder-in the past few years, tea has earned quite a few admirable nicknames. Research has shown that drinking about three cups of tea a day can keep cardiovascular disease at bay, but the jury is still out on the antioxidant-rich beverage's other possible attributes (although studies have suggested that black and green tea may decrease cancer risks in animals, they have yet to show similar results in humans). If you like your tea with extra flavor, try replacing sugar with calorie-free lemon juice.
  • Coffee. Once derided as an unhealthy part of the morning routine, coffee has been credited for reducing the risk of everything from Parkinson's disease to colon cancer to headaches. And you needn't restrict the amount of java you consume: Harvard researchers found that drinking around six cups of coffee a day can diminish the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 54 percent for men and 30 percent for women. Like tea, coffee imparts maximum benefits when you take it straight up.
  • Water. Approximately 60 percent of the body is made up of water, and the organs even more so: the brain contains nearly 70 percent, the blood 88 percent, and the lungs 90 percent. Therefore, to keep your body running optimally, you need to provide it with two and a half quarts of water every day. And drinking more water can help you slim down, too: In 2006, researchers for the Obesity Society examined weight-loss data and discovered that those who completely replaced sweetened drinks with water lost an additional five pounds a year. Just remember that if you consume more than a quarter gallon of water per hour, you could risk water intoxication.
  • Fruit. Juice is great, but many mass-produced brands have additives such as high fructose corn syrup that increase the calorie count (a large 16-ounce glass of orange juice contains about 240 calories), so be sure to limit your intake. You can also make your own sugar-free juice or fruit-infused water-or you can choose fruits with a high water content, such as grapes, pineapples, watermelons, or oranges. As an added bonus, consuming these foods will help you feel fuller, and as a result, snack less.