FROM THE LAB
How healthy are malt-based beverages?
Touted as health or energy drinks for children, malt-based beverages are very popular today. But how valid are their health claims?
We picked nine popular health drinks aimed at children and tested each of them for their sugar content, to see just how much sugar goes into a serving. We then got 10 panellists to taste each of the nine brands. They listed their comments and rated each brand on seven criteria including aroma, taste and aftertaste. We wanted to see whether there was any correlation between a brand tasting good and the amount of sugar it contained.
On test were Amul Pro, Boost Choco Eclairs, Boost 3x Stamina, Bournvita, Bournvita 5-Star Magic, Complan Natural, Complan Chocolate, Horlicks Original and Horlicks Chocolate.
What we found
The brand Bournvita had the highest sugar content overall – the original Bournvita had 38.7g per 100g and Bournvita 5-Star Magic had 34.6g per 100g. Both of them scored pretty high on taste, with 75% (second highest) and 73% respectively. The panellists generally liked Bournvita’s appealing chocolate colour, smell and taste.
Horlicks Original had the lowest sugar, with 13.3g per 100g. However, it fared dismally in the taste test with a score of 42% - the second worst-tasting brand on the list. Panellists found it to be ‘too malty’ and ‘not sweet enough’.
Bournvita had 12.9g higher sugar per 100g than Complan Natural. Yet, because Complan’s recommended serving size was higher, if you followed the pack’s instructions, you would be drinking more sugar with Complan than with Bournvita.
Nutritionist Niti Desai says: “Even if malt based health drinks have protein, vitamins and minerals as claimed, the content is very low and is hardly significant. These drinks basically just provide flavour and sugar. Many of them advertise that children who drink them will be the tallest or smartest in class. However, the amount of protein in these drinks is insufficient to boost growth significantly.”
Horlicks Original with lowest sugar content
Courtesy: Right Choice, February 2014 (www.whichrightchoice.com)