Can a fizzy drink do you good? Which drinks fall flat - and which sparkle? 

1 month ago 232

From a nettle drink that promises to reduce blood pressure to a sparkling kefir — a fermented drink — that claims to improve your mood, Mandy Francis asked Ruth Kander, a dietitian at Fleet Street Clinic in London, to assess some of the newest ‘healthy’ drinks on the market. We then rated them…

Benefit Water Fibre Sparkling Apple

Benefit Water Fibre Sparkling Apple

12 x 250ml, £13.99,

Per 100ml: Calories, 5; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 0g; salt, 0g

Claim: Contains 15 per cent of your daily fibre (from chicory root extract) so ‘supports a healthy digestive system’.

Expert verdict: The lack of added sugar and sweeteners is definitely a plus. Most water-based drinks do not contain fibre, which makes this unusual. The fibre here is inulin, a chicory root extract; you’ll get 15 per cent of the daily minimum in a can for healthy digestion, and that’s linked to a lower risk of heart disease and bowel cancer.

Inulin is also thought to act as a ‘prebiotic’ in the gut, meaning it can encourage good bacteria to flourish. 

However, naturally occurring fibre in foods is thought to be better for us than added fibre.

If you have a sensitive gut, products with added fibre can trigger bloating.

Taste: Delicate apple sweetness. 


Emunity Nettle Chamomile Wild Strawberry Meadowsweet & Cucumber

Emunity Nettle Chamomile Wild Strawberry Meadowsweet & Cucumber

12 x 250ml, £18.99,

Per 100ml: Calories, 21; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 4.5g; salt, 0g

Claim: ‘Packed with nutrients and beneficial properties. Aims to help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and oxidative stress [cell damage linked to diseases such as cancer]. Nettle is known to help flush toxins from body.’

Expert verdict: There is some vitamin C (from added citric acid), which protects cells, but the other nutrients are likely to be present in only tiny amounts, so I don’t think this can be ‘packed’ with health benefits.

Nettle is thought to act as a diuretic. Sometimes recommended for high blood pressure, diuretics help release excess water and salts from the body — but there’s only 0.5 per cent nettle extract in a can.

You also get almost three teaspoons of sugar, some of it from added fructose which has been linked to such chronic diseases as obesity, type 2 diabetes and gout.

Taste: Like a still and non- alcoholic Pimm’s. 


Agua De Madre Passion Fruit & Raspberry Kefir Water

Agua De Madre Passion Fruit & Raspberry Kefir Water

330ml, £3.99,

Per 100ml: Calories 26; saturated fat, <0.1g; sugar, 3.4g; salt, <0.03g

Claim: ‘Contains 55 billion live cultures per 100ml. Promotes a healthy gut and positive mental wellbeing.’

Expert verdict: This is made with kefir ‘grains’ — a colony of bacteria, yeasts and enzymes. 

Offering up to three times more probiotic (gut-friendly) bacteria than yoghurt, the fermentation process used to make it gives it a fizz and about 1.2 per cent alcohol — so it’s unsuitable for children and pregnant women. 

Probiotics are said to have a positive effect on mental health due to physical and chemical connections between the brain and gut.

The ingredients list is short — but there are roughly three teaspoons of added cane sugar in every 330ml bottle.

Taste: Delicious fruit flavours with an acidic fizz. 


Gusto Super DC Immune Support Blackcurrant and Elderberry

Gusto Super DC Immune Support Blackcurrant and Elderberry

250ml, £1.50,

Per 100ml: Calories, 21; saturated fat, trace; sugar, 4.1g; salt, trace

Claim: ‘Contains high-strength vitamins A, C, D, K and zinc for healthy immune function.’

Expert verdict: There is no added sugar here (just two teaspoons from fruit juice), and each can will give twice your entire daily requirement of vitamin D (for healthy muscles and bones), in which most of us are deficient.

Otherwise, the high doses of vitamins in this drink concern me. There’s 50 per cent of our daily vitamin A needs in a can, which makes the drink unsuitable for pregnant women and anyone with kidney disease. It also has 2,500 per cent of the daily vitamin C requirement — ingesting high doses regularly can increase the risk of kidney stones.

It contains your daily vitamin K needs, for bone metabolism, but this can interact with some blood-thinning medication.

Taste: Has rather a tart tang — like a blackcurrant-flavoured Berocca. 


Innocent Coconut Water

500ml, £2.49,

Per 100ml: Calories, 14; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 2.2g; salt, 0.07g

Claim: ‘100 per cent coconut water. A source of potassium.’ Still drink that’s ‘the perfect thirst-quencher’.

Expert verdict: Potassium is a mineral important for regulating blood pressure and fluid levels in the body. Coconut water may be a source of potassium (you’ll get 25 per cent of your daily needs in a 250ml serving) — but most of us get adequate amounts in our diets, from foods such as bananas and cooked broccoli. 

Your potassium levels can drop briefly if you pass a lot of urine (for example, those taking high doses of diuretics for high blood pressure), have persistent diarrhoea or sweat excessively — but it’s still fairly uncommon. That said, this is a nice, natural drink, with nothing added.

Taste: Subtly sweet, silky coconut flavour. 


Trip CBD Infused Peach Ginger Drink

Trip CBD Infused Peach Ginger Drink

250ml, £2,

Per 100ml: Calories, 8.4; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 1.8g; salt, 0g

Claim: ‘Infused with 15mg CBD, lemon balm to reduce anxiety, L-theanine to brighten mood and anti-inflammatory turmeric.’

Expert verdict: CBD is an extract from the cannabis plant with the psychoactive element that makes you ‘high’ removed. 

Although its effects are unproven, CBD is said to help reduce stress, anxiety and pain. There is 15mg CBD here — the minimum thought to be effective. 

If you are on any medication, check with your doctor before taking any CBD.

There is evidence L-theanine, a green tea extract, soothes stress-induced anxiety, but I doubt there’s enough of this or any other compound here to have much of a beneficial effect.

Taste: Sweet peach with a fiery ginger kick. 


Lo Bros Organic Kombucha Cola

Lo Bros Organic Kombucha Cola

330ml, £2,

Per 100ml: Calories, 14; saturated fat, <0.1g; sugar, 3.1g; salt, 0.01g

Claim: ‘Made using kombucha and raw apple cider vinegar. Millions of gut-loving bio-cultures per bottle.’

Expert verdict: Kombucha is made by fermenting sweet black or green tea with bacteria — producing a drink that is rich in gut-friendly probiotic bacteria.

Recent, small-scale studies suggest that adding fermented food and drinks to your diet can boost levels of healthy bacteria in the gut and may help to ward off inflammation in the body that is linked with chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.

This could be a good alternative to regular cola if you like the taste.

‘You will, however, get almost two-and-a-half teaspoons of added sugar in a can — a third of the daily limit.

Taste: Just like regular cola — but it’s less sweet and has quite an odd aftertaste. 


Purdey’s Natural Energy Replenish Raspberry & Rose

Purdey’s Natural Energy Replenish Raspberry & Rose

330ml, £1.30,

Per 100ml: Calories, 15; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 2.4g; salt, 0g

Claim: With ‘energising’ B vitamins and a source of magnesium and vitamin C.

Expert verdict:  A bottle provides a third of your daily antioxidant vitamin C, along with B vitamins which are important for converting food into energy. There’s also 25 per cent each of the recommended intake of the bone-building mineral calcium, and magnesium — which is needed to regulate blood pressure.

The vitamins and minerals are in quite small amounts and won’t provide an instant energy boost, but it’s better than nothing and preferable to some of the excessive levels added to other drinks. The sweetness comes from fruit juices and stevia.

Taste: Nice tart raspberry flavour — but a strange aftertaste from the sweetener. 


BumbleZest Flourish + Flow Rosemary Thyme & Lavender Sparkling Water

BumbleZest Flourish + Flow Rosemary Thyme & Lavender Sparkling Water

250ml, £1.89,

Per 100ml: Calories, 7; saturated fat, 0g; sugar, 1.4g; salt, <0.01g

Claim: ‘Infused with cinnamon, stress-reducing lavender, memory-enhancing rosemary and mood-boosting thyme.’

Expert verdict: On the plus side, this is lower in sugar than some of the others reviewed here and lower in calories, too. You’ll get just under a teaspoonful of sugar, which comes from added maple syrup.

But there’s just 0.1 per cent each of thyme, cinnamon and lavender and a tiny 0.06 per cent rosemary. 

While some of these herbs are believed to have calming properties, there’s so little of them in here that I can’t see they’ll do much other than make the drink taste good. This is essentially a pricey alternative to tap water.

Taste: Pleasant herbal flavours, and not too fizzy. 


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