It's a frequent entrant on New Year's resolutions lists: Drink more water. Now, research out of the University of Illinois provides some compelling reasons to make the Herculean effort to pick up another glass.
Researchers found that upping the proportion of plain water consumed by one percentage point — you read that right — reduced the amount of calories, sugar, sodium and cholesterol ingested; those who upped it by a cup or two saw those benefits grow significantly. As reported in Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, the researchers analyzed consumption data provided by 18,311 adults as part of a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that ran from 2005–2012.
Researcher Ruopeng An found the average adult consumed 4.2 cups of plain water daily (tea and coffee weren't a part of this total). That made up just more than 30 percent of their total dietary water intake, which did include other beverages, per a press release. But just a "one percentage point increase in the proportion of daily plain water in total dietary water consumption" resulted in eating 8.58 fewer calories, 0.74 fewer grams of sugar, 9.8 fewer milligrams of sodium, and 0.88 fewer grams of cholesterol. But add a whole extra glass or two or three and the numbers get meatier: as many as 205 fewer calories, 18 fewer grams of sugar, 235 fewer milligrams of sodium, and 21 fewer grams of cholesterol.
The findings held regardless of race, ethnicity and income, suggesting we could "promote plain water consumption … in diverse population subgroups without profound concerns about message and strategy customization," says An.
(But in related news, this study suggests you may not need a whole eight glasses.)