When you buy a functional beverage, you’re buying it for the function. Unfortunately, for many this means simply taking a brand’s word for it. Nutritional labels are full of words the average person doesn’t always understand; so they buy the beverage, and drink the beverage, with a level of trust that not every brand may deserve.
Decoding drink labels lets you know that your functional beverage is what it says it is. It lets you know the ins and outs of what you’re putting into your body and if you’re really choosing the best option. Some “red flag” terms you might see rather frequently on beverage labels are:
Citric acid – When you see “citric acid” on a beverage nutrition label, you shouldn’t automatically assume it’s derived from a natural source. Most citric acid additives in beverages come from artificial sources, and manufactured citric acid is actually one of the most common food additives in the world. In the same vein is ascorbic acid, or Vitamin C, another additive that is most often artificial in today’s beverages.
Rather than using artificial citric acid or ascorbic acid, we do things a little differently by using lemon juice. Lemon juice is a natural source of citric and ascorbic acids, and our use of organic juices in functional beverages sets us apart from the vast majority. There is nothing artificial about it.
Artificial flavors – Artificial flavors are flavors created in a lab by flavor engineers, who mix different ingredients and chemicals to come up with an interpretation of a flavor or aroma. Rather than an apple product being flavored by an apple, it’s instead flavored by sometimes dozens of synthetic ingredients that go under the “artificial flavor” umbrella.
Rather than using artificial flavors, our functional beverages keep flavor authentic. By using organic flavors, we keep all of our beverages true to taste.
Artificial sweeteners – Sucralose, aspartame, xylitol, and saccharin are some of the most popular artificial sweeteners used in beverages today. These sugar alternatives are lab manufactured, so they’re made using various synthetic chemicals rather than natural or organic options.
Organic monkfruit and stevia are two low calorie sweetener alternatives that provide flavor using the power of nature. Stevia is taken from an herbaceous perennial plant native to Paraguay and Brazil, while monkfruit sugar is derived from a vine fruit related to the gourd family and native to China.
There are hundreds of mystery ingredients that may be found on the labels of “natural” beverages. Because there’s no recognized clear-cut definition of what “natural” means, these boundaries get pushed often and in confusing ways. The best way to ensure your functional beverage is one that meets your standards is to carefully study and dissect what you find on the nutritional label.