Healthy sodas, also known as functional sodas, are a group of beverages that are popping up in multiple versions to join the revolution of healthy trends.
All with the goal of meeting the needs of a large group of stalwarts who want to continue enjoying the sodas they’ve been drinking all their lives, but without additives and saturated sugars.
What are they like and, above all, what do these drinks contain? In this post, we clarify matters and provide a rundown of some of the most novel propositions versus traditional sodas.
What are healthy sodas?
Starting with a market flooded with countless carbonated beverages, a multitude of soft drinks, waters and “all-in-one” products in which it’s hard to differentiate and establish a specific category, healthy sodas, also known as “functional sodas”, are placed in a new category of healthier beverages that contain no additives or saturated sugars.
Healthy sodas came on the scene to meet the needs of enthusiasts and habitual consumers of the classic soft drinks (colas and sodas in orange, lemon and exotic and tropical flavours) who find it hard to give up these beverages or who don’t want to cut them out of their diet.
They are based on healthier recipes that contain hardly any sugar; with vast differences compared to sugary beverages, meaning they have many fewer calories.
They are made using natural ingredients, which can include vegetable fibres, certain botanical elements and prebiotics; they contain hardly any additives; and they are sweetened with stevia or other healthier substances that are free of preservatives.
That makes them products suitable for meeting the needs of a market segment interested in healthy habits.
What category do functional sodas belong in?
It’s hard to define a specific category for healthy sodas. In the first place, because they tend to contain some sweeteners or sugars, although in minimum amounts, and, at the same time, the line that separates them from other liquids like the “flavoured sparkling waters” is very fine or almost non-existent.
They’re not soda pops either, and they don’t fit into the category of soft drinks recommended for or “supposedly” compatible with a weight-loss diet. The reason is that those contain numerous chemical substances and artificial sweeteners, which, while they do not contribute calories, have been shown to trigger insulin release, one of the main factors leading to fat storage, meaning that, in the end, they do not achieve the goal of any diet or healthy habit.
So, and ruling out numerous options that can appear very similar at first glance but which are essentially very different because of their composition, healthy sodas fall into a new category of carbonated beverages produced with natural ingredients and free of preservatives whose refreshing effect makes them a more exciting option than plain water.
They are available in very appealing flavours, unquestionably contain much less sugar, and their purpose is to create a feeling of well-being in the consumer, not only compared to traditional sodas but also compared to alcoholic beverages.
Healthy sodas taste like success
As an appetizing option, certain trends and very attractive healthy sodas are coming on the market that are increasing their popularity and consumption.
1. The success of “sober” bars
For some time, especially in the United States, so-called “sober” bars, which do not serve alcohol, have been flourishing. They especially attract millennials and offer these types of healthy sodas, among other beverages, as a fun, flavourful alternative for enjoying in moments of relaxation.
One example is Getaway, an elegant establishment in Brooklyn (New York City) created for enjoying like a real cocktail bar.
The Today Show in the United States did a story on how these types of establishments are gradually growing in popularity.
2. Healthy sodas that taste like “cola”
One of the biggest challenges is to find the magic formula for the authentic flavour of cola drinks, but with natural ingredients.
Healthy sodas are working on this mission, hence the multitude of brands that are starting to produce beverages like this. One example is Trazo Co., which has made a product with a “retro” appearance but formulated for the present day. It’s called Corsa Cola and is made with botanical products and high-quality flavourings like the African nut, in addition to citrus fruits and spices. Its sugar (just 5 grams) comes from beets.
Other cola-flavoured healthy soda alternatives include dietary supplements such as OLIPOP Vintage Cola, which contains 9 grams of prebiotic fibre for improving digestive health.
3. Citrus flavoured
The industry knows very well how to capture a large percentage of soft drink lovers, so some healthy sodas with the very refreshing traditional lemon and lime flavours are becoming consolidated.
One example is Kin Spritz, an energy drink based on fresh citrus fruits, spices, hibiscus, ginger and caffeine, among other ingredients.
And, Health-Ade Pop is a kombucha-based drink that lets people experience that bittersweet mixture and acid touch reminiscent of Sprite.
4. Similar to functional waters
Hink Kick is a flavour with caffeine (60 milligrams) for providing that dose of energy without the need to also consume a lot of chemical products.
With hardly any calories, Wave Soda contains no less than 85% carbonated water, 15% fruit juice and uses natural caffeine.
5. Flavoured functional sodas
Healthy sodas are the refreshing and more delicious substitute thanks to their fruit and other natural flavours.
United Sodas of America offers naturally sweetened flavours as original as blackberry jam, pear elderflower and toasted coconut.
Mayawell is a prebiotic pear and lime soda sweetened with agave syrup.
6. Substitutes for happy hour
Healthy sodas have made a great leap.
In addition to being substitute beverages for diets or traditional soft drinks, they’ve become authentic options to be enjoyed as drinks with an edge similar to alcohol or the bitterness so many people like.
Palates are changing and opening up to new experiences.
We’re talking, for example, about the Bitters & Soda range, canned beverages that combine bitters and soft drinks as a “non-alcoholic” alternative to the alcohol-flavoured beverages so deeply rooted in cocktail culture.
Casamara Club can be classified as a “leisure soda” inspired by the popular Italian amaro herb liquor.