Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Functional beverages of various types; Differentiated on benefit basis
Monday, 05 March, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dr Winny Routray
Cognisance about maintenance of good heath and incorporation of exotic food components has diversified and globalised the food market. With the continued focus on work-centric culture, dynamic food choices are being adapted, where functional beverages are gaining popularity and acceptability.

Functional beverages can be categorised as both nutraceuticals and functional foods, which have several health benefits, mainly attributed to the increased bioavailability of nutrients. Beverages can be widely categorised as dairy-based beverages, fruit- and vegetables-based beverages, energy drinks, and caffeinated beverages. Functional beverages can include any of these categories; however, they are mainly branded because of their beneficial effects.

This article summarises some of the functional beverages (currently available in market and/ or being explored in food labs), possible benefits of regular consumption of these beverages and future scenario of this industry.

Major functional beverages and possible additives
Beverages which are mainly considered as the functional beverages include dairy-based beverages and fruit and vegetable beverages. Dairy beverages can be milk-based products, or the fermented products obtained from milk such as dahi, yogurt and kefir, whose properties can vary depending on the type of culture mediums and the fermentation conditions. Fermented dairy beverages are recognised as the most readily available probiotic beverages, where probiotic concentration can be further amplified through fortification.

Furthermore, these base compositions can be modified with added sugar or artificial sweeteners, fruits additives (juices, pulps), thickeners and/ or stabilisers (for modifying and enhancing the texture and mouthfeel of the drinks), natural colourants and flavour additives. The final marketable composition of these beverages is determined through studies focussed on maximum bioavailability of the nutraceuticals component and the resulting acceptable optimum sensory properties.

Some of the popular fruit additives for dairy products include berries, mango, banana or a mix of various fruits. Dairy-based beverages are further modified for preparing low-fat beverages; however, the fat removal can affect the sensory properties including the flavour and texture, which are often compensated with stabilisers and flavour additives. Vanilla and chocolate are popular flavours for dairy products. Apart from the traditional dairy beverages, whey-based beverages have also gained popularity attributed to their several health beneficial effects. Whey has been utilised as a base for different beverage formulations or has been further processed and applied as an isolate powder for fortification of other beverages (fruit- or dairy-based beverages) (Faisal et al., 2017).

Fruit and vegetable juice-based beverages are further expanding with the appeal of saving processing time and nutrient availability throughout the year, as most of the fruits are generally seasonal. Fruit juices are rich natural sources of Vitamin C, minerals and phenolics.

Furthermore, increased awareness about the explicit benefits of exotic fruits has augmented the worldwide demand for the corresponding fruit juice or fruit-based functional beverages. Acai berry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, choke berry, and goji berry are some of the fruits, which have gained immense popularity recently.

Fruit juices such as orange, pomegranate and tomato juices have also been employed as the base for fortified probiotic beverage preparation, as fruit juices are the second-most popular choice after probiotic dairy beverages. Also, for increased health benefits, fruit juice industry byproducts such as fruit pulp can be added as dietary fibre in the fruit juice leading to increased health appeal, or can be further processed and dried to be employed for preparation of instant drink powders or herbal tea concoctions.

Traditional caffeine beverages are also being fortified with other health beneficial and essential nutrients. Recently, calcium fortified instant coffee powders were prepared (de Paula et al., 2014), which can complement as potential calcium source with efficient bioavailability. Furthermore, coffee processing byproduct, coffee silverskin has been identified as a potential prebiotic (Borrelli et al., 2004), which can interact with other nutrients and augment their bioaccessibility and bioavailability. Furthermore, apart from traditional tea, green tea and concoctions of tea with other herbs and extracts are being increasingly analysed and being introduced and consumed worldwide.

Nutritional components generally incorporated in functional beverages include phenolic compounds, protein and protein hydrolysate derivatives, oils and fatty acid derivatives, dietary fibres (that include potential prebiotics), probiotics, and other biomolecules such as carotenoids. These components can be fortified as liquid concoctions, encapsulations or crude powders. The bioactivity, bioaccessibility and bioavailability are determined by the individual and interactive effects of various components.

Other than the compositional components, the effectiveness of various functional beverages is affected by processing parameters of both beverage and nutraceuticals additives, forms of various nutraceuticals (encapsulated/ liquid/ semi-solid), other conditions such as pH, complexation properties and molecular size of components, and storage conditions. Certain beneficial properties can be maintained at lower pH and under low temperature storage. Dispersion and bioavailability of nutraceuticals can be controlled through encapsulation with appropriate supporting food stabilisers.

Benefits of regular consumption of functional beverages
Dairy-based beverages have been accounted as one of the primary sources of animal protein and calcium, especially for the vegetarian community, which with further fortification of other nutraceuticals can act as a bioactive nutrient supplement. Presence of probiotics further enhances the beneficial effects of fermented beverages, which are very helpful for maintenance of healthy flora in the digestive system. Furthermore, whey has been characterised for specific benefits, which include antioxidant properties, effectiveness against lipid metabolism, weight loss and for tissue repair.

Fruit- and vegetable-based beverages are major sources of vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, phenolics, and other compounds specifically present in a particular fruit. Fruit and vegetable juice contribute in the maintenance of good health along with several added benefits. Phenolic compounds can contribute to the antioxidant activity, and have been found effective for the prevention of cardiovascular disorders, neurodegenerative disorders and diabetes (Bhuyan and Basu, 2017). Carotenoids have been reported as preventive food component against cancer and several ocular disorders (Johnson, 2002). Further fortification with pulp and fibres and probiotics adds the beneficial effects for the digestive system.

Coffee and tea are some of the most consumed beverages, which are also popular for the presence of phenolic compounds; however, their fortification with other minerals such as calcium and other herbal extracts adds to their effectiveness and appeal as healthier beverages.

Future of functional beverages and conclusion
Fruit and vegetable juices are currently the most exploited beverages, along with dairy-based beverages, which are also the most trusted and available functional beverages. However, functional beverage industry has been adapting blend of non-traditional food and nutritional items for preparation of functional beverages, such a combination of whey with probiotics and fruit juices (Faisal et al., 2017), combination of juices from seasonal fruits and medicinal plants such as papaya with aloe vera juice (Ramachandran and Nagarajan, 2014), and fortification of fruit juices with probiotics. Furthermore, food and beverage industry byproducts are being exploited for application as bioactive compounds sources, from which bioactive compounds can be extracted, followed by encapsulation for efficient commercial application as tablets, powders or nutraceuticals additives.

However, major challenge for this diverse industry is the challenge for balancing the bioactivity and sensory properties. Often, the products developed with highest bioactive properties have been found to have unacceptable sensory properties. Hence, further studies are being recommended in this field for provision of healthy and tasty food (including beverages) and nutrition to the growing population, through efficient application of the resources with energy efficient and economical process technology. Evidently, functional beverages provide a way forward in this direction.

Bhuyan, D.J., Basu, A., 2017. Phenolic Compounds potential health Benefits and toxicity. Utilisation of Bioactive Compounds from Agricultural and Food Production Waste.

Borrelli, R.C., Esposito, F., Napolitano, A., Ritieni, A., Fogliano, V., 2004. Characterization of a new potential functional ingredient: coffee silverskin. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52(5), 1338-1343.

de Paula, L.N., de Souza, A.H.P., Moreira, I.C., Gohara, A.K., de Oliveira, A.F., Dias, L.F., 2014. Calcium fortification of roasted and ground coffee with different calcium salts. Acta Scientiarum. Technology 36(4), 707-712.

Faisal, S., Chakraborty, S., Devi, W., Hazarika, M., Puranik, V., 2017. Sensory evaluation of probiotic whey beverages formulated from orange powder and flavor using fuzzy logic. International Food Research Journal 24(2).

Johnson, E.J., 2002. The role of carotenoids in human health. Nutrition in clinical care 5(2), 56-65.

Ramachandran, P., Nagarajan, S., 2014. Quality characteristics, nutraceutical profile, and storage stability of aloe gel-papaya functional beverage blend. International journal of food science 2014.

(The author is senior research associate, CSIR. She can be contacted at routrayw@yahoo.com)
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