As you know I am very serious about what I put into my body especially now that I know that I have cancer. First, let me say that David and I like these drinks so much that we purchased a case of 12. 🙂 No calories and the taste is great. 🙂 It’s marketed as a healthy alternative to sugary sodas. I like a coke now and then and fruit flavored sodas too so, this would be great even though I am not in the habit of drinking soda. Also, cancer seems to feed on sugar and this is a sugar free drink. If you’re interested in finding a new, and maybe healthy sugar free drink, here’s a review of Bai Bubbles Bolivia Black Cherry. 😀
These things taste great! Black cherry is one of my favorite flavors and it’s not fake tasting and in fact very fruity. It doesn’t taste completely natural as I can taste the sweetener but still, over all, delicious fruity bubbly water. 😀 It’s very light. The thing is, whenever I see things like erythritol I worry. I always think of the slogan “better living through chemistry” which is what this is….chemistry. So, I decided to look into this a bit more.
Here are the ingredients: Filtered carbonated water, Bai® Proprietary Sweetener Blend™ (erythritol, stevia extract), natural flavors, cherry juice concentrate, malic acid, citric acid, fruit and vegetable juice (for color), coffeefruit extract, white tea extract, ascorbic acid, sodium citrate. Read More from the Bai Website
So, looking at each ingredient one at a time, let’s see how healthy this drink really is. I’ll expand on some of these items below.
- Filtered Carbonated Water – water….the quality of the water…who knows.
- Proprietary Sweetener Blend (erythritol, stevia extract)
- Natural Flavors – mystery flavors – I hate that….they need to list these
- Cherry Juice Concentrate – that seems pretty straight forward
- Malic Acid – It looks like this is actually a good ingredient
- Citric Acid – This is basically a preservative
- Fruit and vegetable juice (for color) – Yes! No artificial colors. It can be done!
- Coffee Fruit Extract – Not the coffee bean but the fruit from outside of the bean. This means that there is some caffeine but not as much.
- White Tea Extract – This is good stuff – Antioxidants
- Ascorbic Acid – Synthetic Vitamin C – It can be good and bad – More Detail Below
- Sodium Citrate – The Salt From Citric Acid
Here are some of the ingredients that I decided. were worth looking at further. The first is Erythritol. At first, this seems like a pretty good substitute for sugar. It has basically no calories and is almost completely eliminated by the body.
Erythritol ((2R,3S)-butane-1,2,3,4-tetraol) is a sugar alcohol (or polyol) that has been approved for use as a food additive in the United States and throughout much of the world. It was discovered in 1848 by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse. It occurs naturally in some fruit and fermented foods. At the industrial level, it is produced from glucose by fermentation with a yeast, Moniliella pollinis. Erythritol is 60–70% as sweet as sucrose (table sugar) yet it is almost noncaloric, does not affect blood sugar, does not cause tooth decay, and is partially absorbed by the body, excreted in urine and feces. Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements, it has a caloric value of 0.2 calories per gram (95% less than sugar and other carbohydrates), though nutritional labeling varies from country to country. Some countries, such as Japan and the United States, label it as zero-calorie, while the European Union currently labels it at 0 cal/g. Read More On Wikipedia
As you read more about erythritol you begin to find out that yes, it’s made from natural ingredients but when it is produced in a factory food setting it becomes much more processed.
The 40-step patented process used to make Truvia should make you want to steer clear of this stevia product alone, but there are two other concerning ingredients added (not only to Truvia but other stevia products as well). First, erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar that is sometimes found in fruit, but food manufacturers don’t actually use the natural stuff. Instead they start with genetically engineered corn and then go through a complex fermentation process to come up with chemically pure erythritol – Read More on Food Babe
Since this is the largest ingredient in by weight in the sweetener I would’ve hoped that they would tell us the source of the plants that give us that sugary taste. Other than that, they do not seem to be over processing it in any way. I think, it’s something that is probably harmless even if the source materials are GMO. After all, they have been fermented and finally become a crystal. The process has changed it from a living organic plant to a crystal? GMO should not matter any longer, do you agree?
Erythritol is the largest ingredient in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend by weight, and is used as an ingredient to provide bulk and the sugar-like crystalline appearance and texture in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend. The erythritol used in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend is produced through a natural fermentation process. Fermentation is the process by which an organism metabolizes or “digests” one or more food sources to produce a desired product. Fermentation occurs naturally in a variety of different foods given the right conditions and is used to produce wine, beer and yogurt. In the case of erythritol, a natural yeast digests the simple sugars such as dextrose and other nutrients and produces erythritol. After fermentation, the erythritol is filtered and dried into crystals. Erythritol is found naturally in a variety of fruits, such as grapes and pears, as well as in mushrooms, and certain fermented foods such as soy sauce and wine. Read More at Drink Bai
Stevia is another example of a very healthy and organic ingredient that becomes so over processed that the processing ruins whatever good properties the original product has. Not all commercial versions of stevia are over processed to this point but many are and it is important that we know which versions are being used in the products we consume.
The whole leaf stevia that you can grow in your backyard (and has been used for centuries in countries like Brazil and Paraguay) remains a non-approved food additive by the FDA. However, rebaudioside A (the stevia extract) that was approved by the FDA has not been used for centuries and long term human health impacts have not been studied and are still unknown. The sweetener/sugar industry wields powerful influence over what is ultimately approved at the FDA, and this is just another example where they are influencing decisions that don’t make sense. How can a chemically derived extract be deemed safe in processed food and a plant from mother nature not? – Read More At Food Babe (same link)
So, here’s the thing….the company that makes Bai drinks says that all they do is dry the leaves, steep them and collect the dried crystals in the end. If that’s true, then I’m OK with this ingredient even though it makes me a bit nervous to think about the complexities pointed out in the above article.
Stevia leaf extract is born from the sweet leaves of the stevia plant, which is a member of the chrysanthemum family. To extract the plant’s intense natural sweetness, stevia leaves are harvested and dried. The leaves are then steeped in hot water. The resulting liquid extract is filtered, purified, and dried, resulting in the crystalized stevia leaf extract. Over 200 times sweeter than sugar, stevia leaf extract is an important sweetening ingredient in Bai Proprietary Sweetener Blend, and only a tiny amount is needed to deliver its clean sweet taste. Read More at Drink Bai
Finally, this “ingredient” drives me crazy. I put it in quotes because really we have no idea as to how many “natural flavors” are included or what they are. When a company simply puts “natural flavors” they are asking you to trust them. I don’t trust corporations. I only trust people.
Manufactured natural flavor is contributing to what David Kessler (former head of the FDA) calls a “food carnival” in your mouth. This makes it difficult to stop eating or drinking because the flavors they have synthesized will trick your mind into wanting more and more. When companies use manufactured flavor, they are literally “hijacking” your taste buds one-by-one; that’s why I recommend putting products that contain “natural flavors” back on the shelf. Read More at Food Babe
Well, you’re gonna be surprised by this one. Malic acid seems to be a good ingredient. 🙂 What’s even more interesting is that the Latin word for apple is Malus and that is what this acid is named after. From what I have gathered, malic acid gives us energy (which is probably why it’s in this drink) and strengthens and our muscles.
Malic acid, a natural substance found in fruits and vegetables, is commonly associated with apples. The body produces malic acid when it converts carbohydrates into energy. Taking malic acid supplements is beneficial for conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. It can help with oral hygiene as well. Read More at LiveStrong
Here’s another quote about malic acid.
Malic acid plays a vital role in improving overall muscle performance, reversing muscle fatigue following exercise, reducing tiredness and poor energy levels, as well as improving mental clarity. These actions can make it a beneficial treatment for sufferers of fibromyalgia and CFS (both these conditions involve muscle pain, joint tenderness and low energy levels). Read More at The Daily Health
So, unlike ascorbic acid, which is really just synthesized vitamin C, ascorbic acid really doesn’t do the boy much good at all and is just a preservative. Now, I wouldn’t have a much of an issue if the citric acid was coming from lemons but, it’s not. It’s coming from a very complex fermentation process that is very disturbing. It comes from a fermentation using black mold. Again, think dollars. This really is the worst ingredient I’ve found…and it’s in everything!
Industrial food ingenuity has made it so that citric acid can be created from Aspergillus niger, a common black mold. You’ve likely heard of how dangerous black mold is. There are several strains of Aspergillus that, if inhaled, can cause severe sickness or death. This particular strain of Aspergillus (niger) is not as lethal as others, however, in people who are weak or have impaired immune function, Aspergillus niger has been found to pose serious health risks from spore inhalation. Although citric acid can be obtained from lemon or pineapple juice, producing citric acid from A. niger is a far less expensive process. Read More at Ethical foods
White Tea Extract
Now, I have to be honest, after looking through the list of ingredients here and realizing that the main ingredient is water then you have to realize that none of these ingredients are going to have a huge impact on your health. Well, not unless you consume gallons of the stuff! Still, it seems that white tea extract is pretty good for you.
According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, “the tea leaf stays so close to its natural state, the benefit of white tea is that it contains more polyphenols, the powerful anti-oxidant that fights and kills cancer-causing cells, than any other type of tea.” Read More at Natural News
For the most part, sodium citrate is added for flavor to give food and drinks a slightly tangy and salty flavor. Overall, it seems to be basically harmless.
Sodium citrate is the sodium salt of citric acid. It is commonly used in food as a flavor enhancer or preservative. It is what gives many sodas their sour and slightly salty taste. When used in foods, it is highly unlikely to cause any adverse effects, as amounts used are very small. Read More from Is It Bad For You
I will say one thing regarding this review of Bai Bubbles Bolivia Black Cherry, if there is one thing that has been sitting in the back of my mind it’s quality vs. price. Here’s the deal. We’re not purchasing these drinks from kids on the corner or from a mom and pop store in town. We are purchasing these drinks from corporations built to produce a profit and if they have to sacrifice quality to increase profits well, then you can be sure that they will as long as people continue to purchase their products. That being said, Bai drinks do seem to be healthy alternative to sugary sodas. I do wonder about the quality of the water and a few ingredients….and where they source the raw materials for their sweeteners but overall, I think we have a pretty good drink that at it’s worst isn’t UNHEALTHY and at it’s best might actually be a HEALTHY choice! So, I will continue to buy Bai, yes I did that on purpose, but only as a treat now and then.