We Tried Clevr Blends Superfood Lattes—But Are They Healthy?
Every year, a new beverage seems to pop up overnight in the market. From kombucha to kefir, these drinks quickly gain popularity due to their purported health benefits—and the current must-have drink is superfood lattes. In addition to the claims of being healthy and energizing, these drinks are also colorful and fun (which is probably why your social media feeds might be full of images of the beverage).
One brand that continues to make headlines is Clevr Blends. The company, which started as a pop-up adaptogenic coffee bar in 2016, got a boost in popularity when Meghan Markle privately invested, and continued to grow after a seal of approval from Oprah, who listed the superfood lattes as one of her favorite things on her 2021 list. After all the celebrity endorsements, we wanted to try the superfood lattes for ourselves. Do they actually taste as delicious as they look? Are they healthy? Read on for our review of Clevr Blends.
The Taste Test
Understanding the Label
Clevr Blends is known for their superfood lattes, but what exactly is a superfood? There is no set definition, but superfoods are thought to be foods that offer high nutritional benefits (check out these 10 everyday superfoods you can incorporate into your diet). To help you understand what you're drinking, we look into the different ingredients and the science behind their health claims.
The claim: Mood boost. Is the claim supported by science? Yes, but it needs more research.
Reishi, also known as lingzhi and Ganoderma lucidum, is a type of mushroom often used for medicinal purposes in Asian countries. A study in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine tested the effectiveness of powdered reishi to combat fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing endocrine therapy. While the patients did report less anxiety and depression, the conditions of the study were limited in scope, so more research needs to be done to find the overall effectiveness. Another 2020 study in Healthcare evaluated whether 6 mg per day of reishi mushroom powder helped alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety for women with fibromyalgia, a chronic disease characterized by widespread pain. Over the six- week trial, they saw a trend of improved satisfaction with life and reduced depression in participants. However, more research is needed to substantiate these findings.
The claim: Soothes stress and anxiety. Is the claim supported by science? Yes, but it needs more research.
Ashwagandha is a type of adaptogen, which is a class of herbs that are intended to boost your resistance to stress, both physical and emotional. While ashwagandha is known for its immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory benefits, a 2019 study in the journal Cureus found that the adaptogen was beneficial in helping people with insomnia improve their sleep quality and sleep onset. However, the study's authors concluded that more large-scale studies need to occur in order to determine the effectiveness of the adaptogen on patients with insomnia and anxiety.
The claim: Sharper focus. Is the claim supported by science? Yes, but it needs more research.
Known as Hericium erinaceus, lion's mane is another type of mushroom used for medicinal purposes. A 2021 review in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Research assessed 96 articles to determine the effect of specific nutrients and phytonutrients on cognitive function. Lion's mane was found to improve cognitive function in two different trials; however, patients in the trials were all older than 50. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of lion's mane in a broader population, including people younger than 50.
The claim: Immune support. Is the claim supported by science? Yes.
Probiotics are living organisms found in fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi and more. When consumed, probiotics add to the variety of good bacteria in your gut that aid in everything from digestion to immunity. The benefits of probiotics include balancing friendly gut bacteria, easing skin conditions like eczema and, yes, supporting healthy immune function. Eating foods with probiotics may help strengthen the immune system.
Monk Fruit & Sugar Alcohol
Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is a small green melon that is often used as an alternative sweetener. While there are some benefits to using the sweetener in place of table sugar, like it having no effect on blood sugar and its anti-inflammatory properties, there are also drawbacks as monk fruit is often combined with sugar alcohols (depending on your palate, monk fruit may also taste overly sweet). Despite their name, sugar alcohols are actually a type of carbohydrate, and consumption of certain sugar alcohols can lead to gastrointestinal issues.
Certain sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol may have a laxative effect, whereas others like erythritol elicit a milder reaction. A 2016 review in the International Journal of Dentistry found that erythritol did not cause digestive issues when ingested on its own, but did cause problems when combined with fructose. Another study, published in 2020 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, tested the effects of erythritol on the human gut microbiota and found no negative impact.
While the science suggests that erythritol is not necessarily a cause for concern, every person may have a different reaction, so it's important to be aware of potential issues when you ingest a product with this ingredient. Clevr Blends uses a combination of monk fruit extract and erythritol.
In general, superfood lattes are often marketed as an alternative to coffee, but they're not always caffeine-free. The Clevr coffee flavor has 50 mg caffeine, the chai flavor has 40 mg caffeine and the matcha flavor has 45 mg caffeine (the turmeric flavor, however, is caffeine-free). Compared to an 8-ounce serving of regular brewed coffee, which has 92 mg, the superfood lattes are much lower in caffeine.
The Bottom Line
If you're looking for a cozy beverage to spice up your morning or afternoon, Clevr Blends is a fun option. However, as Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, EatingWell's digital associate nutrition editor, explains, you would need to consume the lattes frequently to make a true impact on your health. "If you are concerned about digestive distress, the monk fruit and sugar alcohol should be avoided. Instead, you can reap the same benefits with drinks like green tea, coffee and chai tea," Ball says. But if you're curious to try, Clevr Blends may be a tasty option from time to time.