The regal color is found everywhere in pop culture, music, movies and fashion, but rarely has it been seen in Sparks residents’ health drinks — other than grape juice — until now.
The Florida-based Purple Beverage Co. announced a distribution agreement this month with Sparks-based Crown Beverages, Inc. to supply certain health stores, delis and supermarkets with Purple, a fruit beverage touting specific health benefits.
“The packaging is young and hip and it reflects who we are,” Purple Beverage Co. president and founder Ted Farnsworth said. “It does extremely well, the antioxidants are in the purple figment of the drink and it’s easy to remember.”
Besides purple being Farnsworth’s favorite color, he said, the drink’s blend of seven fruits makes the drink rich in antioxidants. The seven fruits are black cherry, pomegranate, black currant, purple plum, cranberry, blueberry and the Amazonian Açai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berry, which contains protein, fiber and fatty acids that fight cholesterol.
Antioxidants are molecules that fight off free radicals, which are unstable particles in the body that bond to cells and tissues, causing DNA molecules to become cancerous.
As a result of Purple being so rich in antioxidants, according to the maker, the drink is high in its oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value, or the count of antioxidants a food can absorb. A higher ORAC score in fruits or other foods means that item can better help the body fight off disease.
“The health benefits are really great,” Farnsworth said. “Purple has a 7,600 value. A glass of orange juice is about 1,100, so it’s seven times more powerful.”
Paul Bond, president and general manager of Crown Beverages, said the new product will appeal to a more health-conscious market in Sparks.
“We’re a big distributorship and trying to balance our portfolio with serving our accounts other than Coke or Pepsi or beer items,” Bond said. “We got into health beverages when Snapple was kind of a craze. It was a good-tasting product and it was healthier in some aspects than Coke or Pepsi.”
Crown Beverages, which opened in Sparks in 1960, has taken on other popular beverage brands including Sobe, Red Bull and Smirnoff, but he said there’s been a growing interest in products with high antioxidant levels.
“People are trying to do more healthy things for their body ... even in beverages,” he said.
The drink’s Web site, www.drinkpurple.com, lists various health benefits, but some of the information on the drink is difficult to substantiate with limited research available on the combination of fruits used for Purple, said Maureen Molini, a registered dietitian who works at the Center for Nutrition and Metabolism at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“There is some published data on pomegranate juice having an effect on prostate levels in men, which showed that there was substantially fewer levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigens) after three years (of consuming pomegranate juice), but it’s hard to know whether it was from the juice or other factors.”
Molini said the drink may not be bad for a person’s health, but it should not be considered an alternative to consuming whole fruits and vegetables, especially since Purple’s calorie count of 112 per eight ounces is comparable to that of other juices.
For every five calories Americans consume, she said, one is derived from beverages.
“There’s definitely a trend (toward these specialty products),” she said. “Mainstream grocery stores are using more pomegranates and blueberry juice and really catching onto these antioxidant claims and the research is pretty new. People want to know whether this is really working.”
The drinks will be found in health stores and supermarkets in Sparks such as GNC or Raley’s. The drink is packaged individually in 10-ounce bottles for $2.99 apiece. Although it won’t be available in every store at this time, Bond said, interest may peak over time and could be appearing city-wide in two or three years.
“Word of mouth is the best advertising,” Bond said. “Purple Beverage Co. knows to create something new, you need to be a little more unique.”