This centuries-old fizzy, fermented elixir has gone supermarket mainstream. Made from cultured bacteria, yeast, and tea, kombucha contains probiotics, enzymes, B vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, and, if you buy the right brands, not too much sugar. “Generally, kombucha is low in calories, rich in good-for-you bacteria, and overall healthy,” says Toby Amidor, RD, MS, author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen.
However, just because it’s healthy doesn’t make it a magic potion, as kombucha is often viewed. The drink does supply nutrients and may aid digestion, but there’s no proof it staves off colds, prevents gastrointestinal diseases, or “detoxes” your body. “The claims some kombucha companies make about detox concern me,” Amidor says. “There is zero evidence that you need anything more than your liver, kidneys, and a healthy diet to detox sufficiently.”
Verdict: If you can stomach the tart, vinegary taste of a low-sugar kombucha — and you’re not drinking it in place of healthy whole foods — it offers solid nutritional bang for your buck. Just be sure to read labels carefully. Many companies add fruit juices, honey, or other forms of sugar to make kombucha more palatable, which can be fine, so long as these additives don’t dominate the drink.
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