CAPSULE REPORT: With no calories, and packed with flavor and healthy nutrients, Airforce Nutrisodas are one of the best products we’ve come across in a long time. The only down side is lack of distribution: they’re at tony hotels and airports, but we think they should be everywhere. It’s tough to break into the beverage business—think of the big players who own the shelf space. If you have any influence in the area, try this savvy line of sparklers, and do what you can.
Airforce Nutrisodas: the very name is intriguing. Does this line of carbonated, fruit-flavored beverages use formulas developed by the U.S. Air Force? Are these hearty drinks for those aspiring to the strength and stamina of flyboys?
The answer is “none of the above.” These refreshing sodas were developed by Joe Heron, a former SVP of Novartis Nutrition Corporation who traveled often for business, as a way to combat the ills of extensive plane travel. Originally conceived as energy drinks for jet-lagged executives with demanding schedules who breathed too much recirculated airplane air, the small cans fit easily into briefcases. A few can be toted around on trips to (hopefully) ward off bugs, boost energy, and serve as a healthier calmer-downer than a martini.
Evolving from their roots as boosters for executives-on-the-run, the fashionably-colored cans and tasty, equally attractive-colored contents have gotten Airforce Nutrisoda onto the menus and into the minibars of tony spas and hotels. The Waldorf-Astoria developed a cocktail menu of “tonics” around them, and other watering holes offer “elixirs” based on the beverages. Pour a can into a martini glass—with or without the vodka and a squeeze of lime—and you, too, will feel like you’re having a cocktail experience. (For actual cocktail recipes, click here.)
At zero to fifteen calories a can, Airforce Nutrisodas are exciting options for those looking for a diet beverage. But more important, supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and other “good for you” ingredients, these boosters deliver more than the empty calories of a diet soda.
Are nutrisodas “functional food,” that is, do they deliver benefits beyond normal refreshment as a soda? Yes: depending on the flavor, a can will supply 25% to 200% of the average daily requirement of the key ingredients.
For example, tangerine-lime Immune, a flavor which is carried nationally at Target stores, is a convenient-to-consume immune system booster-cum-soft drink packed with meaningful levels of nutrients including:
Echinacea, an herb that is believed to boost the body’s immune system and fight infections
L-arginine, an amino acid that helps to support the body’s immune system
Selenium, an essential trace element that supports the body’s immune system by protecting against the effects of free radicals
Vitamins A and E reinforce the body's resistance to colds, flu and infection
Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid help protect the body‘s immune system and enhance red blood cell formation
Zinc, an essential mineral that stimulates the enzymes required by a healthy immune system
By the way, you don’t have to be a healthcare professional to understand what you’re getting: similar to the explanations in the bullets above, the cans explain what each ingredient is intended to accomplish.
Airforce Nutrisodas are good for you: the water is filtered four times for purity and refreshingly, not overly, carbonated. All are naturally flavored and colored, and sugar-free, sweetened with Splenda (sucralose—see all the different types of sweeteners). All are carb-free, sodium free, and except for the Energize flavor, caffeine-free.
Each flavor has a unique mix of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and herbs to support its function. While all have a functional value, in terms of tastiness, most “pass” as delicious beverages one would enjoy anytime. A couple have medicinal nuances, largely where the strong flavors of the B-vitamins assert themselves.
Calm leads the list alphabetically, and is also one of our favorite flavors. Formulated to help deal with everyday stress and anxiety, it contains the “non-habit forming herbs” like rhodiola rosea, chamomile, valerian and gotu kola; nutrients such as choline and inositol, B-vitamins and folic acid. Billed as Wild Berry + Citron, the watermelon-colored liquid has a bit of a watermelon flavor, refreshing even on a cold January day. [zero calories]
Enjoy Airforce Nutrisoda in a cocktail glass: instant calorie-free cocktail. Olive pick by Mum’s Creations. For cocktail recipes using Airforce Nutrisodas, click here.
Energize, or Mandarin + Mint, is meant to recharge the batteries and boost energy levels. It includes the nutrient CoGIO and the amino acids l-tyrosine and l-carnitine; herbs such as ginseng, rhodiola rosea and guarana seed extract; B-vitamins; taurine; and magnesium. It looks like sparkling cider and tastes more like ginger ale than mandarin orange. This flavor has a very subtle undertone of B vitamins, but nothing substantial like Slender (see below). We wish the manufacturer would bring up the mint profile: not having any fresh mint, we added bitters to up the ginger flavor (it also changed the color to a deep red). [10 calories, 50 mg of caffeine]
Flex, Black Cherry + Apple, is formulated to help lubricate, repair and restore active joints for improved mobility. It contains a whopping 500mg of glucosamine and 400mg of chondroitin, as well as the amino acids l-lysine and l-proline for enhanced soft tissue repair. Also included are vitamins B6 & B12, minerals magnesium and zinc for cell repair and growth, plus ginseng for an added energy boos. Coupled with excellent black cherry flavor, we personally added this one to our daily regimen. [5 calories]
Focus, a.k.a. Mango + Peach, is intended to sharpen thinking and concentrate the mind. Herbs such as ginseng, rhodiola rosea and gingko biloba, combined with the nutrients inositol and choline, the amino acid l-tyrosine, and specialty selected B-vitamins, vitamins C and E, and magnesium, help to aid focus. The sweet mango flavor is delicious, and we are happy to focus on it indefinitely. [zero calories]
Immune, or Tangerine + Lime, is formulated to bolster immune defenses and boost antigen response. It includes the herb echinacea, 2000 mg of the amino acid l-arginine, combined with antioxidants vitamins A and E, B-vitamins, folic acid, minerals such as zinc, chromium and selenium. The flavor is vaguely tangerine, but the color is definitely lime—it matches the can. We added a squeeze of lime juice for more flavor, and wish the folks at Airforce Nutrisoda would do the same. [15 calories]
Radiant hopes to improve the skin’s natural elasticity and firmness, for “a beautiful, youthful, healthy skin.” Its rosy color—from the Pomegranate + Blackberry flavors—is a good advertisement for rosy cheeks. The amino acids l-lysine, l-proline and l-arginine plus the herb gotu kola are intended to help stimulate and maintain the body’s production of collagen and facilitate soft tissue repair. Alpha lipoic acid enhances the performance of antioxidants to help fight free radicals that contribute to the signs of premature aging. Vitamin D provides nourishment for the skin. Antioxidants vitamin A, selenium, and green tea defend the skin against oxidative tissue damage and the signs of premature aging. Rhodiola rosea helps relieve stress and anxiety that can contribute to skin stress. We love the zero-calorie taste; the promise of youth is added value. [zero calories]
Renew supports overall systems renewal with a Watermelon + Blueberry profile. It helps the production of healthy active intestinal bacteria and microflora with full gram of dietary, soluble fiber per can, while l-glutamine builds cells for the body’s immune and digestive systems. B-complex vitamins help metabolize carbohydrates and produce healthy skin and red blood cells. [15 calories]
Slender, which hopes to facilitate weight management with natural ingredients that may speed up the body's metabolism, reduce conversion of carbohydrates to fat, and suppress appetite, looks like pale pink lemonade. Unfortunately, it smacks of vitamin B aftertaste (which it contains, along with A, C, D, E, thiamin, niacin, B6, Folic Acid, B12, biotin, pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, chromium, selenium, l-carnitine and l-tyrosine). The flavor is Grapefruit + Guava, but it tastes more like Fresca than natural grapefruit and guava. We hope that Airforce Nutrisoda can tweak this flavor a bit to bring it in line with the other tasty flavors. [10 calories]
With people drinking more green tea, eating cruciferous vegetables, and otherwise choosing foods that promise health benefits, we think the developers of Airforce Nutrisodas have developed a real multitasker: a tasty—and glamorous—way to drink nutrients while enjoying a diet drink. They disclaim that their statements have not been evaluated by the FDA; that the products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease; and as with all dietary supplements, if one is pregnant, nursing, or taking any medication, one should consult with one’s physician before using the products.
But, disclosures out of the way, enjoy Airforce Nutrisoda from the elegant can, or in an even more elegant martini glass. As we said earlier, these aren’t the empty calories of a diet soda; nor are they as inexpensive. They do cost less than a cup of coffee at your favorite name-brand coffee chain, and are so much better for you. You may well become a convert, as we are.
Nutrisodas are also available at fine retailers, hotels, resorts, spas, airports and restaurants nationwide.
*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. THE NIBBLE does not sell products; these items are offered by a third party and we have no relationship with them. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.
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