3 Functional Beverages
Functional beverages serve a purpose beyond just quenching your thirst: specifically, they offer additional health benefits, such as antioxidants, added fiber, protein, or vitamins and minerals. You may recognize them as “energy” drinks or “sports” drinks. Even water enhanced with additional nutrients can fall under that category.
These days, you’ll find loads of functional beverages on grocery or health food store shelves, though with some creativity, you might be able to whip up some recipes on your own.
1. Infused Water
Infused water is a great way to sneak nutrients into a beverage you need to drink anyway to stay hydrated. Many options abound on the market for vitamin water enhanced with electrolytes and vitamins; just be careful not to choose water with excessive sugar.
It’s easy enough to make your own water infused with fruit, vegetables, or herbs and to get creative with combinations at home. Some ideas include cucumber and mint, watermelon and basil, or strawberry and lemon. Simply pour a quart of water into a mason jar, add your cut-up fruit or vegetables, add your desired quantity of herbs, if any, and let it sit in the refrigerator for up to eight hours. The longer your water rests, the more flavorful it will be!
You can’t go anywhere without hearing about kombucha. Kombucha is a fizzy green or black tea that’s fermented via Scoby, which stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” Though it can be made at home, it takes some effort, not to mention several weeks of fermentation. Fortunately, there are many bottled options. Be careful not to choose a brand that is pasteurized, as that will kill the beneficial bacteria.
Kombucha made with green tea contains antioxidants and may reduce cholesterol, thus providing some protection against heart disease. Another potential health benefit of kombucha includes a positive impact on gut health, as the fermentation process makes probiotics, which can help reduce inflammation.
3. Functional Coffee
If you’re going to have your daily cup of coffee, you might as well reap the rewards beyond that much-needed jolt of morning caffeine. For example, you likely will see some coffee products enhanced with various adaptogens, such as reishi mushrooms or herbs like ashwagandha. Adaptogens are botanicals that help the body manage or adapt to stress by supporting the adrenal glands. Reishi mushrooms have long been regarded as medicinal mushrooms with antioxidant properties that may also enhance immune response. Ashwagandha is an ancient herb, also known as Indian ginseng, touted for its anti-inflammatory effects and its potential to help with anxiety and stress.
Another functional coffee ingredient that is trending is plant-based protein. Whether made from collagen soy or wheat, protein coffee is likely to become popular with those looking to lose weight by eating fewer carbohydrates, though everyone can benefit from sufficient protein in their diets.