Enhancement is the buzzword today - from enhancing looks to health - and beverages are now brewing with enhancing health nutrients. But are these really functional?

Here, we look at the six hottest beverages in the market.

1. Mushroom teas

Drinking hot water brewed with whole or powdered dried mushrooms has become increasingly popular over the last few years. While these drinks are not a cure-all, they are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Jessica Kelley, MS, RD creator of Nourished by Nutrition, is a big advocate for mushroom teas and the boost they can give to an overall healthful diet.

“Purchasing the powdered form of cordyceps, chaga, and reshi mushrooms extends their use to more than just tea. I find adding them to smoothies, soups, or lattes makes it easier to incorporate these mushrooms daily.”

2. The cure-all vinegar

The goodness of drinking vinegars, mainly apple cider vinegar and coconut vinegar, is touted as the ‘cure-all’ for most ailments ranging from wrinkles to hair loss, cough and diabetes.

As early as 400 B.C., the father of medicine, Hippocrates was said to have used apple cider vinegar to treat some illnesses. Studies have shown that vinegar can reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure, but these were done in rats and thus need to be confirmed in human studies.

Concerning its claims on weight loss, Scott Kahan, Director of National Centre for Weight and Wellness in the US, says these are mostly unfounded.

"Virtually no [scientific literature] comes up for this, and what does is usually tiny, not well-done studies in obscure journals."

"Despite what you may read, there's nothing magical about apple cider vinegar," said health expert Abby Langer.

3. Blue-algae latte

Move over, turmeric latte – there are new latte stars in town. This vegan coffee smells exactly like its name – seaweed. Currently a hit in Melbourne, the extract may be a good shot not just for your morning but for your Instagram.

Commonly known as “Smurf Latte”, it is made from a spirulina blue algae extract called Blue Majik and at Melbourne’s Matcha Mylkbar, the colourful cocktail of blue algae powder, ginger, lemon, coconut milk and agave claims to help prevent cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

However, nutritionist Emma Stirling, an experienced Accredited Practising Dietician, says, “There have also been previous concerns raised by regulators in the US on the misleading marketing of supplements in this class and the potential for toxic contaminants.”

4. Vitamin drinks

Bland water and fizzy carbonated soda are losing their appeal to sparkling vitamin water which infuse vitamins in a bottle.

One popular brand, Oishi, offers Smart C+ which comes in mango and melon flavours and can be “seamlessly incorporated into your lifestyle”, as claimed by the company’s marketing vice president, Shera Tiu.

While many favour this concept of vitamins in a drink, Margo G. Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, USA says, “The way that vitamin water is marketed and positioned, it’s made to look more healthful than other sugary beverages, but it’s not – it’s still just a soft drink. It has this aura of healthfulness that is not deserved. Adding vitamins and minerals to junk food doesn’t make it healthy.”

5. Bulletproof coffee

Popularised by Dave Asprey, this coffee is blended with coconut oil and butter, turning it into a rich latte that could well replace your conventional breakfast. Coffee lovers claim that it perks up their mental and physical performance, and helps to lose weight.

However, though it may be good as an appetite suppressant, it lacks the protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals for a balanced breakfast.

So far, there is no study suggesting that consuming this coffee latte is safe.

6. Beetroot latte

Beetroot, acclaimed to be a superfood, is now being added to coffee for a nourishing latte in Australian cafes.

Similar to a shot of expresso, the coffee is brewed with organic beetroot powder and frothed almond milk. It is rich in antioxidants and is said to boost libido and reduce the risk of some cancers.

Studies published in both the British Journal of Nutrition and Nutrition Journal in 2012 found that consuming beetroot juice lowered the blood pressure of healthy adults.

However, as it contains a high amount of oxalates, those who are suffering from kidney stones should stay away from it.

And one more thing to watch out -- be prepared for pink or red urine or stool. MIMS

Read more:
Turn your favourite junk food into healthy indulgences
Protein matters: 7 tips to eating it right
Nurses, here are 8 of the best natural energy-boosting foods

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