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Question: What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a sweetened (by sugar or fruit juices) fermented tea (black or green tea) beverage that may have a very slight alcohol amount, although if it contains more than 0.5 percent alcohol per Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau, it must be classified as an alcoholic beverage. (https://ttb.gov/ kombucha/index.shtml)

There have been situations when kombucha has tested at higher amounts of alcohol and has had to be removed from supermarket shelves. Since it does have that very slight alcohol amount this is something parents might want to be aware of.

In most Ingles stores you can find these kombucha beverages in bottles in the produce section near refrigerated juices as well as in the refrigerated dairy section near grab and go beverages.

Although much has been made of health benefits, there may not be much to the claims you have heard through marketing. Kombucha is definitely an alternative to drinking a sweetened soda as they are usually (but not always) lower in calories. There has been talk of the probiotic benefit for gut health, but there’s not much research to support that. Probiotic benefits would depend on the specific brand of kombucha you are drinking, what probiotics it contains, whether your gut needs those specific probiotics and if those probiotics could survive your digestion and pasteurization.

Cost of kombucha can vary quite a bit, but again, if this is something that appeals to you as an alternative to sodas, we definitely have a wide variety at Ingles including Buchi Kombucha, which is made locally in Western North Carolina.

Note: A proven way of getting probiotics is eating yogurt with live cultures. Otherwise, eating fruits and vegetables is one big way we can improve our overall health, gut health and digestion.

Talk to Leah: Leah McGrath is the corporate dietitian for Ingles Markets. Follow her @InglesDietitian. Contact her at Lmcgrath@ ingles-markets.com, 800-334-4936 or at www.ingles-markets.com/ask_leah.

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