Health Benefits of Infused Drinks
Not only do homemade infusions taste great, but one of the other reasons they are so great is the fact that they also offer several health benefits when compared to other types of drinks out there. Of course, if you’re infusing with spirits, they’re obviously not going to substitute for that kale smoothie or that kambucha protein shake you were going to have after your 6am bootcamp/spinning class. But, if you’re planning on having a few drinks, why not throw in a couple vitamins or nutrients so your body doesn’t completely hate you the morning after?
Some Of The Benefits Of Homemade Infusions
In brief, homemade infusions offer you these great health benefits:
- Natural ingredients avoid the need for artificial flavorings
- Natural ingredients provide vitamins and nutrients
- Makes for low calorie, low carb, and low sugar drinks
- Nutrients will keep if you freeze them
Natural Ingredients > Artificial Flavorings
One of the biggest distinctions between homemade infusions and flavored spirits that you buy in the store (e.g., flavored Smirnoff), is that a homemade infusion will get its flavor from the natural ingredients that you infuse with. As we wrote elsewhere on this website, depending on what ingredients you use and how you’re infusing them, you can make a great tasting vodka, whiskey, sake, or cocktail without having to add any of the sugary or artificial flavorings that they put in the off-the-shelf handles you will see in a liquor store. In this thoroughly written article from chowhound, we learned that almost all packaged flavored vodkas are made from plain vodka doctored with extracts or chemical blends. According to Bloomberg, new products from brands such as Grey Goose, Belvedere Vodka, and Deep Eddy may tout their all-natural processes, but distillation essentially comes down to macerating “real” ingredients (such as ginger or grapefruit) to a base vodka without artificial additives. And, sweetners may still be added to make up for flavors lost in the process.
Worse yet, their labels can be misleading; while some brands say they’re “infused,” others just “flavored.” Some may go so far as marketing itself as being infused when in reality they are made with flavoring and/or extracts.
Why? According to chowhound, it allows them to market themselves as “all-natural.” The theory goes that calling their products “infused” will spark images of real fruit and spices soaking in a vat of vodka, when it reality that doesn’t happen. Sadly, when you see “infused” on a label, it technically doesn’t have any special significance, because the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (responsible for controlling labeling standards of spirits) doesn’t even define the term.
A Nutrition Label You’ll Want To Read
Using natural ingredients has some fairly obvious benefits over chemical alternatives. Like anything that is processed or synthetic, there is a greater risk to your health and immune system when you use artificial ingredients. For example, some of the reported side effects of artificial flavoring include anxiety attacks, cancer, allergies, DNA damage, seizures, high blood pressure, depression, fatigue, brain tumors, kidney problems, nausea, dizziness, and mental confusion.
Other benefits discovered in this article include the potential for nutrients and flavors found naturally in the ingredients you use to seep into the water with little to no added calories. This is in part thanks to water-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins B and C) being capable of permeating throughout liquids during the infusion process. Also, infusions can flush toxins from your body. For example, the ascorbic acid in lemon is commonly used in detox drinks because they are thought to help with the cleansing process. Similarly, herbal infusions that contain dandelion are thought to have detox qualities because dandelion is a known diuretic that helps eliminate toxins in your liver and kidneys.
To be fair, some argue that the infused additives don’t really help in detox drinks. But that hasn’t stopped some companies from creating a vitamin-infused vodka (the “Multi V” vodka) with the belief that injecting the vodka with B vitamins (B1, B3, B5, B6, B12) and vitamin C, will keep your body hydrated, provide an energy boost, and ultimately avoid hangovers. As St. Louis Mag amusingly reports: “The vodka’s promotional video speaks to that purity: people hike and ride bikes in the video; they stretch out lithe bodies in yoga poses. And, come night, they party, only—one presumes—to rise the next day as bushy-tailed as ever.” Our homemade infusions may not be the complement to a morning of yoga, long bike rides, or indoor rock climbing, but we think you’ll wake up feeling slightly better than a long night of drinking the other stuff.
Another issue that comes up in the discussion of healthy lifestyle and drinking habits, is whether cocktails can help you stay on track with calories or carbs. Mixed drinks often have added sugars and calories that usually make them disfavored among dietitians. For example, tonic water is actually full of sugar and calories, and most juices will also be loaded with sugar. But using infused spirits can add the flavors you otherwise look for in cocktails, and according to dietitians, without any additional calories. What’s great is that when you google low carb or low calories drinks, most dietitian-recommended drinks already list infused drinks that you can easily make on your own, or use as the inspiration for one of your own. For example, one of the coolest takes on infusions I have seen is the Moscow Mule inspired infusion, which take the ginger and lime flavors and infuse them directly into the vodka. Again, to be fair, dietitians will always caution that if you’re looking to lose weight, drinking in moderation is key no matter what type of liquor you choose and advise that people enjoy them in moderation.
Lastly, you may see claims that some herbal infusions have anti-aging properties, or can boost your metabolism, reduce bloating or help you relax. We have seen stories of lime-infused drinks being anti-aging, and capable of helping with digestion or skin rejuvenation. And stories of dark berries and pomegranate seeds, which are rich in antioxidants, help protect against the effects of aging. But, we have yet to find the right combination of spirits and ingredients that create the elusive fountain of youth.