Kombucha: Good or Bad?

Find out if the popular fermented kombucha tea is worth the hype.
518549438

518549438

Photo by: bhofack2 ©bhofack2

bhofack2, bhofack2

With the exploding popularity of fermented foods, it’s likely that kombucha has ended up on your radar or even in your fridge. But is this drinkable fermented tea worthwhile?
The Good

A concoction of tea, sugar, fruit juice, bacteria and yeast are combined to create a pungent and slightly fizzy beverage. Homemade and store-bought versions require a jelly-like substance known as the “mother” or “scoby,” which introduces bacteria and yeast into the flavored liquid that’s then allowed to ferment. This drink is often touted for its tummy-pleasing probiotics plus numerous B vitamins. Some blends also include additional fiber and Omega-3 fats from add-ins like chia seeds, greens, herbs and algae.

The Bad

A potential downside of these drinks is the wide range of nutritional variation. Depending on the ingredients, calories can range from 60 to 160 per (16 fluid ounce) bottle. The fermenting process also creates a small amount of alcohol. Though they are desirable for their probiotic content, these beneficial bacteria are destroyed by pasteurization. Unpasteurized or “raw” varieties are available but could pose a food safety risk, as potentially harmful bacteria could grow in the liquid. For this reason, folks with weaker immune systems, including young children, elderly people and pregnant women, should steer clear.

The taste of these drinks also gets mixed reviews and often is described as sour, earthy and vinegary.

The Verdict

If you can stand the pungent flavor of these drinks, there’s nothing wrong with swigging certain types of kombucha. It’s wise, however, to check nutrition facts before sipping.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of  Dana White Nutrition, Inc. , which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Pork: Good or Bad?

There has been controversy lately about whether pork is healthy or safe to eat. So you can make your own educated decision, we offer the nutrition facts on pork. Is it really the “other white meat”?

Shellfish: Good or Bad?

Once taken off the menu for being too high in cholesterol, it turns out that shellfish can be a tasty part of a heart healthy diet.

Bagels: Good or Bad?

Who doesn’t love a bagel for breakfast -- but are they a wise choice? People are always surprised (and a little freaked out) to hear how many slices of bread they’d have to eat to match the calories in one bagel. Here’s the good and the bad.

Cream: Good or Bad?

With boatloads of calories and artery clogging saturated fat, can cream be part of a healthy diet?

Milk: Good or Bad?

We're talking about cows' milk, that is. Many folks view milk as wholesome and healthy. Others, meanwhile, warn us away and say it's full of hormones or might make you phlegmy. So what’s the deal with milk: does it do your body good or not?

Chicken: Good or Bad?

Chicken is considered a lean protein, but many folks are concerned about how chickens are raised and fed. Can this popular poultry be part of a healthy diet?

Pasta: Good or Bad?

Trying to find healthy and delicious recipes? Food Network makes that easy with their collection of low fat, low calorie and low carb recipes.

Bacon: Good or Bad?

Some folks love it, others cringe at the very thought. Can this pork belly delicacy be part of a healthy diet?

Pasta: Good or Bad?

Thankfully, the low-carb diet craze is on its way out, but during the anti-starch explosion, pasta took a severe beating. But pasta is GOOD! Here's why…

Caffeine: Good or Bad?

Can’t go without that morning latte or afternoon soda, but worried you're overloading on caffeine? Here are some tips to help you assess your daily dose of caffeine.