Do trendy health shots simply blow a hole in your wallet?12/02/2019
The tiny bottles can cost more than champagne, so do trendy health shots simply blow a hole in your wallet?
- Wellness shots are everywhere, from high-street supermarkets to coffee shops
- Millilitre per millilitre, some cost more than champagne, but are any worth it?
- NHS dietitian Noor Al Refae looked at some popular products and we rated them
Actimel Mind with Guarana, from Waitrose
Actimel Mind with Guarana, £1/100g Waitrose
This contains guarana, an Amazonian fruit with caffeinated seeds, probiotic yoghurt, with ‘billions of Lcasei cultures’, and vitamins B6 and D and B5 ‘to support normal mental performance’.
Expert opinion: ‘The guarana provides 50mg caffeine — around the same as a cup of instant coffee, and caffeine is known to boost mental alertness. This bottle will also provide around 15 per cent of your daily vitamin B6, 5 per cent of vitamin B5 and 7.5 per cent of vitamin D — all important for energy and concentration. L’casei cultures can help foster healthy gut microflora, but some will be destroyed by the digestive process.
Taste: Slightly smoky, unsweetened yoghurt flavour.
James White Beet-it Organic Stamina Shot
James White Beet-it Organic Stamina Shot, £1.45/70ml tesco.com
Made with 98 per cent concentrated organic beetroot juice and 2 per cent concentrated lemon juice. ‘Beetroot is particularly high in dietary nitrate,’ says its maker.
Expert opinion: There is credible scientific evidence to show beetroot juice taken a couple of hours before exercise can help improve muscle efficiency and stamina. A daily dose has also been shown to help lower high blood pressure. Both effects are possibly due to the nitrates in beetroot being converted by the body into nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. One shot will count as one of your five a day.
Taste: Earthy, sweet flavour.
The Turmeric Co Nature’s Remedy Turmeric
The Turmeric Co Nature’s Remedy Turmeric, £3.50/60ml from Wholefoods, theturmeric.co
This contains 5g of cold- pressed turmeric root mixed with watermelon, pineapple, lemon and piperine (black pepper) extract. ’Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound called curcumin. Regular consumption of curcumin can boost your immune system, and reduce inflammation,’ says the manufacturer.
Expert opinion: There is some research to show regular consumption of curcumin has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, but more studies are needed. Turmeric supplements of any kind should always be taken with care as they can interact with medication such as painkillers, statins and blood pressure medication.
Taste: Sweet and spicy.
umbleZest Detox and Defend ACV, Milk Thistle and Charcoal
BumbleZest Detox and Defend ACV, Milk Thistle and Charcoal, £2.40/60ml from healthfood stores
‘A warming cleanser and detoxer containing apple cider vinegar, activated charcoal and milk thistle powder to aid digestion and stimulate metabolism.’
Expert opinion: ‘Used for treating drug overdoses, activated charcoal binds to poisons and carries them out of the body. This combination of charcoal and milk thistle will not “cleanse” you — that’s the role of your liver and kidneys.
‘Milk thistle is a natural treatment for liver problems, but along with claims for helping digestion, lacks scientific evidence. The charcoal could bind with some prescription drugs, affecting absorption.
Taste: Sweet, spicy, lemony.
Biomel Dark Chocolate Dairy-Free Probiotic
Biomel Dark Chocolate Dairy-Free Probiotic Shot, £1.20/125ml from Sainsbury’s
‘A coconut-milk-based probiotic shot made with live cultures and vitamins B6 and D and calcium to support the normal function of digestive enzymes.’
Biomel claims that its ‘L+ lactic acid cultures . . . quickly help the good bacteria in your gut to thrive, strengthening your immune and digestive systems’.
Expert opinion: New research shows just how much our gut health can impact on weight and disease, so taking a regular probiotic product makes nutritional sense, although changing our diet can also have a significant impact.
This shot contains useful levels — almost 19 per cent — of your daily recommended intake of calcium and vitamin D, and vitamin B6, which is important for energy production, but it also has nearly 1½ teaspoons of added sugar.
Taste: Nice, sweet flavour, similar to a chocolate milkshake.
Weight loss? Slendershot 14-day pack
Slendershot, £19.99/14-day pack, slendershots.com
‘Weight-loss and detox supplement full of amino acids and antioxidants. Natural ingredients include acai berry, ginseng, prickly pear and green tea. Designed to suppress your appetite and speed up metabolism.’
Expert opinion: The manufacturer suggests you’ll start to see a change after two weeks, but frankly this is more likely to be the result of the lifestyle changes you’ll inevitably be making to lose weight rather than the product itself. If you’re dieting, you could be low on some of the vitamins and minerals offered here and the amino acids in this play a proven role in mood and energy levels. However, the claims that they can suppress appetite and speed up metabolism aren’t yet supported by research.
Taste: Pleasant, sweet summer fruits.
Erbology Organic Aronia Skin shot
Erbology Organic Aronia Skin shot, £2.99/40ml, Ocado.com
‘Made with 100 per cent Aronia berries’ — this shot is ‘chock full of anthocyanins (powerful antioxidants) that have been studied for their support of cognitive and heart functions, metabolism and healthy skin. Take one a day for beautiful skin.’
Expert opinion: Aronia, sour berries native to North America, are indeed a good source of anthocyanins, but so are most other brightly coloured berries. Aronia are also a good source of vitamin C, important for healthy skin. Although they are healthy, they won’t work any miracles — and they’re expensive; ml per ml, this shot costs more than Moet & Chandon champagne.
Taste: Mouth-puckeringly sharp.
James White Xtra Ginger Zinger
James White Xtra Ginger Zinger, £1.35/70ml, ocado.com
‘Organic apple and ginger shot with chilli. This will give you back your zing!’
Expert opinion: Ginger has become a very popular shot ingredient. The powerful flavour and warming sensation it gives as it’s swallowed makes it feel as if it’s clearing congestion, blasting away sluggishness and doing you good, but scientific evidence for this is scant. Apple juice is a good source of vitamin C, but it’s only present here in a relatively small amount. For energy, you need a well-balanced diet which includes B vitamins (found in eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and meat) and to keep hydrated.
Taste: Fiery! Blows the cobwebs away.
Active edge: Cherry Active Shot
Cherry Active Shot, £1.79/30ml, active-edge.co.uk
‘A Montmorency cherry concentrate, ideal for air travel and post-sports recovery. Contains the antioxidant equivalent of 23 fruit and vegetables.’
Expert opinion: Montmorency cherries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce aches and pains after exercise. High in melatonin — a hormone that influences our natural sleep/wake cycle — Montmorency cherry juice is sometimes recommended to help minimise jet lag. The effects are not instant, however — it’s probably best taken for several days before and after a sporting event — and first thing in the morning and an hour before bed to help with sleep.
Taste: Tart and slightly medicinal. 8/10
VITAMIN C HIT
Moju Acerola Booster Shot from Waitrose
Moju Acerola Booster Shot, £1.50/60ml Waitrose
The maker says ‘late nights and long days’ call for this reviving blend of apple, pomegranate, blackberry, cherry and lemon juices with 20 per cent acerola puree. ‘A heavy-duty version of a glass of orange juice, acerola (aka the Barbados cherry) is one of the richest, natural forms of vitamin C’ — and taking it in shot form makes it more ‘bioavailable’ (better absorbed by the body).
Expert opinion: Acerola is widely regarded as the best natural source of vitamin C, but it’s not clear exactly how much vitamin C is in this shot. I can’t find research that proves a shot is more effective than a supplement.
TASTE: Slightly sour, but pleasant.
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