Thirsty work: 8 health drinks to put to the test

HEALTHY drinks come in all guises — with and without fruit and vegetables, some of them exotic and mysterious.

It’s difficult to believe that processed and pasteurised fruit retains its nutrients and I wonder if their greatest value is just getting fluids into us to keep our gut circulation going and to avoid dehydration.

Just drinking water can revive us, so a glass of water may do the trick just as well. And we avoid the potential acid breakdown of tooth enamel from juices. We all need a balanced diet, including vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables, so think of these drinks as thirst quenchers and pleasant beverages rather than expecting miracle cures or even health benefits. They should also be seen as treats, especially for those on a budget.

Many juices contain sugars, so even if they are natural, they must be counted in when watching weight. As treats, many of them can do less harm than sugary, fizzy drinks, so it’s worth taking a look here to see what’s in them, what is new and worth a try.

As a drink with food or on a night out, they could be far better than alcohol and tasters agreed they would have them with a lunchtime sandwich. Our scores are based on taste with a nod to the list of ingredients.

Purdeys Edge 330ml €2.29

This multivitamin fruit fizzy drink is trendy at the moment and for good reason. Grape, apple, blackberry and sloe are blended with botanical extracts with added vitamins C and B6 and 12. With plenty of flavour from a

good proportion of blackberry, there is no added sugar. Tasters liked that the fizziness was not extreme.

Score: 8

Vit Hit immunitea 500ml €2.09

This version, flavoured has dragonfruit (aka Pitaya, part of cactus family) and yuzu, a currently fashionable yellow citrus fruit. There are also added B vitamins and zinc, useful for general health. Further flavours added to the water are white grape and tea infusion from concentrates. While it boasts no added sugar, the substitute sucralose is used which leaves an aftertaste. Otherwise tasters liked it.

Score: 7

Bai antioxidant infusion 530ml €3.49

From a range of flavours, this blueberry one has added blackberry and strawberry juices. The sweetener is steviol glycosides, a sugar substitute. Coffee fruit extract comes from the fruit covering of coffee beans, and there is white tea extract and added vitamin C. This all sounds interesting, but taste wise it amounts to mild

blackcurrant cordial.

Score: 6.75

Wellwoman vitamin drink 250ml €1.89

Water has added pomegranate and cranberry juices, along with extracts of green tea, guarana, artichoke and grape seed extract. Tasters could taste all these interesting flavours, but thought it a little sweet from the addition of the sweetener, sucralose. B vitamins, folic acid, iron and zinc have been added too. As a pleasant

drink, tasters enjoyed it. In a can, not fizzy as might be expected. Found in Holland & Barrett.

Score: 6

SynerChi kombucha 330ml €2.68

Kombucha, fermented tea, is a buzz word these days with claims that it can help digestion and fight yeast infections. Here, added sugar could negate some of the value of the health properties, but at 4.5% sugars perhaps the balance is good enough. Pressed ginger and lemongrass are a light addition to this fizzy drink which tasters liked. The vinegar scent does not come through in the taste. Made in Co Donegal.

Score: 7.5

Sibberi birch water 500ml €3.25

Made in Lithuania where it is a sustainable food made from sap extracted from birch trees. Its nutritional value is difficult to assess, but there is no added sugar and so very few calories. With a slightly nutty/herbal flavour, it is best chilled and drunk as a thirst quencher. Tasters were intrigued, though not excited by the watery taste. We bought it in Boots pharmacy.

Score: 6.75

Lifeway Kefir low fat mango flavour 250ml €2

This cultured low-fat milk smoothie has no added sugars which was appreciated by tasters who also liked the creamy texture which is similar to a yogurt drink. Kefir is a bacterial yeast starter which helps to ferment milk and break down lactose, making it more digestible to some, as well as giving it a mild, sour flavour, though stronger than some yogurts. 3.2% protein may help reduce hunger. Produced in Clonakilty.

Score: 7

Deep River Rock magnesium 500ml Price €1

- €1.40

Added magnesium aims to ‘reduce fatigue, refresh and revive’, but as it says on the bottle this is done with hydration. The 98.7% water content will do that on its own. As well as chemical preservatives, there are added sweeteners sucralose and acesulfane K (a form of potassium). Our tasters found the taste quite pleasant, a

cross between lightly sweet and sour, but with an unusual scent. Made by Coca Cola HBC.

Score: 5


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