The last half-decade has seen a constant rise in health awareness among people. With obesity-related diseases like diabetes and other health complications on the rise, there has been a drastic change in the trends of the beverage industry. Nowadays consumers are opting for drinks which are low in sugar content, rich in nutrients, and have added benefits to their consumption. These are popularly known as functional beverages. However, sports beverages and energy drinks remain popular among athletes and sportspersons despite their high sugar content.
Until 2014, most ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages were available in the form of sweetened carbonated drinks, sweetened juices, etc. which, to this day, use fructose syrup as their base ingredient during their manufacturing process. According to the nutrition label on a can of Coca-Cola, a serving of 100 ml of the beverage has about 11 grams of added sugar. This constitutes almost one-third of your daily added sugar consumption limit. So if you have a can of Coca-Cola during the day (which, by the way, is a whole of 330 ml), you cannot have any food item which contains sugar in it, be it fruits or that bowl of ice-cream you rightfully earned after a grueling session at the gym.
However, with the gradual rise of health awareness among the global population, a ton of alternatives to sugary RTDs have hit the shelves as a response to this phenomenon. Here are 5 beverages that will soothe your taste buds and ensure you don’t throw your health goals out of the window.
Raw fruit, vegetables, whey powder, dairy products, nuts, and many other nutritional supplements can constitute a smoothie, a creamy beverage. It is usually made in a blender, as compared to fruit juice, which is extracted using a hydraulic press or a juicing machine. Millennials often drink smoothies as a substitute for a whole meal only because of its tremendous health benefits.
Contrary to juices, which primarily consist of fruit pulp, smoothies have additional benefits to their consumption:
● Since extraction takes place in making juices, they miss out on the essential component of the fruit, i.e., fiber. Smoothies, on the other hand, employ a blending procedure, which means the fiber remains intact in the whole mixture. The high fiber content in your smoothie is suitable for your gut as it aids in digestion, increases the body metabolic rate, and catalyzes the weight loss process.
● A smoothie is one of the preferred choices of beverage if you’re looking for lots of stuff in a single drink. You can toss in anything and everything into a smoothie to pump up its nutritional value. Moreover, you can add nutritional supplements like whey powder or creatine to make for a healthy post-workout beverage.
2. Green tea
If you ever get into a conversation with a person who is health-conscious, chances are you might hear the words ‘green tea’ coming out of their mouths when they’re suggesting ways to lose weight. The preparation of green tea takes place through an infusion of green tea leaves with boiling water. It is offered in a variety of flavors including lemon, ginger, and mint. It is also packaged in tea bags, to reduce the effort of actually buying the leaves from a trusted source. Some of the benefits of green tea are as follows:
● The consumption of green tea leads to a rise in the body’s metabolic rate and promotes the burning of belly fat. Fat burning supplements have green tea as a major ingredient due to this property.
● It improves cognitive function through caffeine, a stimulant, which is the active substance in green tea. Although caffeine content in green tea is lesser than that in an equal serving of coffee, it is enough to produce the caffeine response without any jittery effects due to excessive caffeine.
3. Infused water
This is one of the most acclaimed beverages among health-conscious consumers. Adding fruits or vegetables in a jar or bottle of water and leaving it overnight for the infusion process to take place leads to the production of infused water. In this process, absorption of vitamins and nutrients into the water takes place through osmosis in addition to a slight taste of the constituent fruits and vegetables, making it a light, functional beverage. Some added benefits of infused water are:
● It is rich in antioxidants, which help in cleansing the skin, boosting the immune system of the body and reducing inflammatory effects.
● Works as a detoxifying drink neutralizes toxins in significant parts of the body and rejuvenates your natural detoxification system.
● It is highly refreshing, and if you use it as a substitute for a can of soda, it can prove to be beneficial in reducing your daily sugar intake.
Just like antibiotics kill harmful bacteria present in your body, probiotics are those bacteria that are suitable for your body. These are primarily present in the digestive tract of the human body and have a high concentration in the intestinal region, where assimilation of the ingested food takes place. Most of the bacteria in the Lactobacillus family are highly probiotic and are used to treat many gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhea and typhoid. Probiotic beverages are primarily made through a fermentation process to grow colonies of the live bacteria. Once done, mixing them into a suitable liquid base such as milk, beetroot juice, coconut water, etc. with minimal quantities of sugar leads to the production of probiotic drinks.
Probiotic beverages come under the category of functional drinks, which are highly beneficial for digestive and gut health. Some examples of probiotic beverages include:
● Yogurt – has a healthy quantity of the lactobacillus bacteria
● Yakult – a popular probiotic drink
● Cheese – some cheeses like mozzarella, gouda, and cheddar have healthy bacteria
As millennials are adopting a healthier lifestyle, they are opting for a more mature approach to alcohol consumption. Gone are the days when parties meant getting hammered at a club and waking up with an ugly hangover the next morning. Responsible drinking has become a new trend in the past 2-3 years.
On the other hand, some consumers want the taste of alcohol in non-alcoholic beverages. As absurd as this sounds, non-alcoholic craft beer does exist and is popular among the majority of the population who hail beer as the ‘drink of gods.’ This is made by mixing fruits and spices to achieve the taste of traditional beer. Hence, craft beer is both a functional and recreational beverage, eventually making it the preferred drink at a pub or a restaurant.
The functional beverage industry has seen a significant change in the overall beverage industry, owing to the rise in health awareness in society. Even though the percentage of the health-conscious population is small, the high prices of these beverages lead to immense profits for the companies who supply these. As awareness spreads, the prices might come down, making these beverages affordable for all.