Sunday, December 18, 2011

Probiotic Dairy Beverages

The Preface
And now, for the taste test you've all been waiting for; the product you've been seeing in the stores and have been interested in trying, if only you knew which brand was best. The time has come, dear readers, for me to finally answer the question you've all been dying to know:


Ok, so maybe you've never wondered about this at all. In fact, most people have probably never seen or noticed these little plastic bottles in your grocery store. Sometimes they're with the yogurt, other times they're in the meat case with the Latin food. I know about them because of the time I spent living in Taiwan. These little drinks are very popular outside of the United States, particularly in Asia, but also in Central and South America. In Taiwan they can be sold in big, liter sized bottles, and were even available as a flavor of 冰沙 (bīng shā) - an icy smoothie fruit drink, similar to a slurpee. I loved this stuff and when I saw three different brands of it being sold at my local grocery store, I had to get them all and find out which was best.

The Competitors
Sabor Cool
Bio Salud

The Participants

The Methodology
Drink 'em. I actually did the test twice, with a few weeks in-between, then compared the notes from each test afterward, to see if I got a different opinion one time versus the next. I didn't.

The Results
Sabor Cool - This one had the strongest smell and was quite tart compared to the others. It uses high fructose corn syrup and sugar. 40 calories in a 2.1 fluid ounce bottle. $.99 for 5 bottles.

Yakult - This one was not as overly sweet as the other two, and the flavor was a bit more mild and more natural. It was sweetened with only sugar and has 50 calories in a 2.7 fluid ounce bottle. $1.99 for 5 bottles.

Bio Salud - Extremely sweet. Too sweet. HFCS and sugar used. 35 calories in a 2.1 fluid ounce bottle. One positive thing about this one is that they have a few different flavors, including original (which is the one I tested), pineapple, peach and strawberry. $.89 for 5 bottles.

And the winner is:

The most natural flavor, the biggest bottle, the one that doesn't use high fructose corn syrup. Yakult wins. I suppose it's only appropriate, seeing as how this was the first probiotic dairy beverage, created in Japan in 1935. This is also the most popular in Taiwan, and is the one I drank most, though we called it "Yak milk". So if you see this in your grocery store, try it out.