Cheers! Beverages for Health

Ingredient suppliers are using technological advances to help beverage makers transform mass market beverages into healthful juice drinks and condition-specific formulations with double and even triple-digit growth.

By Kantha Shelke, Ph.D.

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Nanotechnology helped Nashville, Tenn.-based Eastman disperse vitamin E in aqueous media to enhance water-solubility and make it more bioavailable. The shelf-stable Vitamin E-TPGS (δ-Tocopheryl glycol succinate) may now be easily incorporated at several steps in beverage manufacturing. The health benefits of the taste-neutral nutrient even at 10 times the adult recommended daily allowance for vitamin E can be delivered to consumers without change in taste or appearance of clear, fortified waters and other functional beverages. Vitamin E-TPGS is self-affirmed as GRAS, compatible with an array of beverage ingredients and nutrient additives such as vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, fibers and proteins, and robustly shelf-stable as such and in beverages.

Nanoencapsulation also allows Watson Inc. (www.watson-inc.com), West Haven, Conn., to offers its Clear-E water-dispersible vitamin E, percectly suited to beverage applications. The certified-kosher product does not foam, cloud or ring in concentrations up to 35 percent of daily values. Even at the full 100 percent of daily values, there is only the slightest clouding still fine for more opaque drinks.

The New Fruit Juices

That consumer intentions and declarations don't necessarily parallel their purchasing behavior is a major issue for developers and marketers of healthful beverages. The successful ones build in convenience and adaptability into their healthful beverages so consumers are not sacrificing time or changing their routines drastically to accommodate healthy choices. Formulators find fruit products from Pom Wonderful (www.pomwonderful.com), Los Angeles, and Sambazon Açai (www.sambazon.com), San Clemente, Calif., are easier to add to beverages because consumers know about their antioxidant power and accept their taste profile.

Another fruit-based beverage becoming popular for its antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties is CherryPharm, an all-natural, not-from-concentrate cherry juice from CherryPharm Inc. (www.cherrypharm.com), Geneva, N.Y. CherryPharm is promoted as a natural recovery juice, and calling cherries natural pain relievers, anti-inflammatories and sleep regulators.

Antioxidants, especially from superfruits such as açai, and goji, are outpacing protein and minerals as hot nutraceuticals for beverages.
Antioxidants, especially from superfruits such as açai, and goji, are outpacing protein and minerals as hot nutraceuticals for beverages.

Last winter, One Natural Experience World Enterprises Inc. (www.onenaturalexperience.com), Los Angeles, launched O.N.E Amazon Açaí. The noncarbonated açaí beverage is promoted as containing more antioxidants than pomegranates or blueberries, including anthocyanins. It is "rich in omega-3, -6 and -9 oils as well as amino acids, vitamins B and E and ellagic acid." The drink also contains acerola , which has more vitamin C than an orange. According to the company, the product is the only açaí beverage produced from the fresh berries instead of concentrate.

On the carbonated beverage front, naturally fruit-flavored soda manufacturers are lacing their products with other natural nutraceuticals such as green tea extracts or extracts of fruit fractions known more for nutraceutical effect than flavor. Grape skins (quercetin) is an example that is seeing wider use.

Ardea Beverage Co. (www.nutrisoda.com), Minneapolis, markets airforce Nutrisoda, a carbonated line in seven natural fruit flavors targeting different aspects of health through different combinations of amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants. With names such as Immune, Calm, Focus, Radiant, Flex, Energize and Slender, the company uses trendy flavor combinations such as tangerine lime, watermelon blueberry and mandarin mint.

The Healthy Beverage Co. (www.), Bucks County, Pa., makes its Steaz Sodas line with a combination of fruit juices, fruit extracts and green tea. The company recently expanded its line into the energy category with its Steaz Energy, laced with yerba maté supplied by the Sebastopol, Calif.-based Guayaki Co. (www.guayaki.com) and açai from Sambazon. As with all the company's offerings, Steaz Energy uses only fair-trade, organic and sustainability based ingredients.

Ergogenic and Thermogenic

The diet drink category has evolved recently with products combining energy claims with low to no calories for weight loss. Ergogenic (energy-boosting) ingredients such as taurine, caffeine, gluconolactone, EGCG, yerba mate, and guarana target consumers desiring to improve energy expenditure. "That ergogenics can effectively prevent weight gain is probably why as many as 500 new energy drinks bubbled up in 2006," says Jim Tonkin, Tonkin Consulting (www.tonkin.com.au), Scottsdale, Arizona.

Atlanta-based Coca Cola (www.cocacola.com) , in partnership with Nestlé (www.nestle.com), Vevey, Switzerland, launched Enviga with EGCG and caffeine. The combination, according to research, can boost metabolism and increase energy use. Coke press material portrays Enviga carefully -- as part of a balanced lifestyle -- and claims consuming EGCG and caffeine at the level contained in three cans of Enviga can lead healthy subjects to experience an average increase in calorie burning by 60 to 100 calories. The studies were performed at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

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