Functional Beverages

By: Kim Beavers Email
By: Kim Beavers Email

These days the beverage aisles are overflowing with “designer” beverages that make various claims. That is all well and good; the problem is that the average American gets about 21 percent of his or her calories from beverages. Need to lose weight? A good place to start might be decreasing your intake of caloric beverages.

Functional beverages are drinks that have been enhanced with added ingredients to provide specific health benefits beyond general nutrition. Functional beverages are promoted with benefits such as heart health, improved immunity and digestion, joint health, satiety, and energy-boosting.

Popular ingredients include caffeine, green tea, yerba mate, vitamin C, ginger, and ginkgo biloba. Enhanced waters are also surging in popularity.

Some functional beverages provide hydration but many also contain added sodium, and calories and very little nutritional value. With the rate of obesity in our country, most of us do not need to be drinking our calories. For the most part, when we drink calories, we do not cut back of food consumption to compensate.

By the same token, many enhanced waters do not have calories or have fewer calories than a regular soda, making them a better beverage selection. However, these “designer” beverages are very costly. In my opinion, like sodas, they are to be enjoyed (because some of them do taste good) in moderation but not for regular hydration.

Bottom Line: Read product labels to see what ingredients functional drinks contain. Many ingredients may not be proven to benefit health. If you are concerned with vitamin and mineral supplementation, you are best advised to consume a healthy diet and then maybe even a multivitamin supplement that does not exceed 100% of the RDA.

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