Are Bai Drinks Good For You?

Unless you've been hiding in the basement for the past decade, you've probably heard of Bai. The Bai line of drinks — which from their inception have been marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional sugar- and calorie-heavy sodas — were first concocted by entrepreneur Ben Weiss in a basement in 2009 (via Harvard Business School Club). The company quickly rose to stardom, being bought for a pretty $1.7 billion in 2016 by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. So what is the appeal? And are these "healthy alternatives" actually good for you?

The nutritional profile of Bai drinks is similar across the board. The drink contains coffee fruit (the berry-type fruit that surrounds a coffee bean) and white tea extract, both of which contain powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, per the Bai website. According to Healthline, polyphenols are thought to boost brain health and aid digestion, as well as help protect against several serious diseases (including certain cancers). 

Bai contains erythritol

One bottle of Bai's antioxidant infusion drinks also includes 15% of the daily recommended intake of another powerful antioxidant, vitamin C. And juice concentrates — not artificial colors and flavors — are used to provide appealing color as well as lots of flavor (per Bai website).

Bai drinks tend to be very low calorie but are still quite sweet. Instead of sugar, Bai uses a sweetener blend containing just two ingredients: erythritol and stevia leaf extract. Erythritol belongs to the category of sweeteners called sugar alcohols, which are produced through a fermentation process. Erythritol is recognized as safe by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an organization that advocates for nutrition and food safety. Erythritol is similar to sugar in taste and appearance but contains only a tiny fraction of the calories (per WebMD). And stevia leaf extract is a plant-based sweetener that is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. Like erythritol, stevia leaf extract is generally regarded as safe but needs further research (per CSPI).

While Bai drinks shouldn't replace pure water in the diet, they are a major improvement on regular sodas and a huge step in a healthier direction.