Does the ‘wellness latte’ provide health benefits?
There's no point denying it—old man winter will soon have his icy claw around us all. Short of hibernating or fleeing south of the border, the best course of action might be to arm yourself with a hot drink such as the “wellness latte.”
The "wellness latte" is the latest beverage promising physical and mental health benefits.
“The colour is the initial draw in,” said Ellee Pitman, of Bluestone Lane, a New York City-based coffee chain with stores in Toronto, inspired by Australian cafe culture.
The bright pink, green and yellow beverages are eye-catching. But the company touts the beets, matcha and tumeric infused into their almond milk-based beverages as having medicinal properties.
“The turmeric latte is great,” Pitman said. “It's a natural anti-inflammatory so it helps the joints when they seize up as the weather gets colder. If you're looking for something with a powerful dose of antioxidants, matcha and beet are great for that. They’re all natural.”
“The green tea is what gives the matcha its colour, the golden latte is made with turmeric, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and sea salt.”
Proponents bill these drinks as a great alternative to coffee, but nutritionists are skeptical of their healing properties.
“There’s certainly health benefits to these if you're substituting them for soda pop because they’re lower in sugar than fruit drinks, and they do have the added benefits of antioxidants,” dietitian Cara Rosenbloom told CTV News Toronto.
“But I wouldn't forgo traditional medicine or supplements your doctor advises for a wellness beverage. They're a tool to be used in a larger tool box of wellness.”
Rosenbloom said companies often use sweeteners like sugar, honey and maple syrup to mask the bitter flavour of ingredients like matcha and beet, sometimes at the risk of negating any health benefit.
Bluestone Lane say their wellness lattes use only natural ingredients.
“Consumers need it to taste good or they won't buy it again,” Rosenbloom said. “But you need to ask what else is going in your health beverage? I think what people struggle with is they believe a spice like turmeric reduces the risk of heart disease or cancer, but those studies are done in supplemental form, usually in Petri dishes, not in humans.”
“So to drink a "wellness latte" and think it’ll have the same kind of health benefits doesn’t translate. The quantity you have a in a drink isn’t the same as what you'd have in medicine.”
Pitman said that Bluestone Lane’s “wellness latte” does contain both black and cayenne pepper. A teaspoon of black pepper added to any turmeric-based drink will increase its anti-inflammatory properties by upwards of 2,000 per cent, Rosenbloom said. Without pepper, turmeric has virtually no healing properties.
The "wellness latte" is available in select stores across Toronto.