Zuplex offers a range of botanical extracts with proven efficacy for functional beverages.
The functional beverages market is considered one of the fastest-growing markets in the food sector and has seen exponential growth in the last decade. Healthier alternatives to high-sugar carbonated beverages are increasingly popular. Manufacturers and consumers have become more health-conscious and are seeking the benefits of various botanical extracts. Functional beverages are one of the most pleasant and convenient ways of including various vitamins, nutrients and bioactive compounds in one's diet.
Zuplex offers extracts in a water-glycerine, ethanol or water base, and we are excited soon to be able to offer water-soluble powders and concentrates. We offer many interesting functional botanical extracts perfect for use in new functional beverages. Over and above the extracts listed below we can offer tailor made or more traditional extracts ranging from classics like ginger to more adventurous extracts like reishi mushroom.
We are working with some favourite South African brands like Score and their new and exciting flavour, African wormwood, locally known as umhlonyane. (If you'd like to find out more about the story behind the product and ingredients, check out this video).
Also NuMuti,'s 'Africeutical' beverage range contains interesting functional botanicals including sceletium, honeybush and rooibos extract.
If you're interested in sourcing innovative ingredients for your next functional beverage venture, let's chat!
Selected functional extracts and ingredients
Baobab is one of the highest sources of vitamin C of any fruit, making it a great immune-boosting addition to any functional beverage. It also contains many essential amino acids and minerals. It is often used as a tonic and has a pleasant, slightly acidic, tangy fruity flavour.
Buchu has a classic blackcurrant flavour overtone and has been highly sought after for decades for its delicate yet persistent aroma. Functionally, buchu is high in antioxidants and has diuretic properties and is therefore associated with detoxification and improved kidney function.
Aloe Ferox (commonly known as bitter aloe) is an indigenous Southern African plant that is widely used for its medicinal properties, particularly its effective detoxification functions. The presence of polysaccharides in aloes makes it an attractive addition to any functional beverage as it increases the bioavailability and absorption of various other plant natural ingredients.
Both Rooibos and Honeybush belong to the Fabaceae family and share similar health-promoting compounds and bio-actives. Both plants are well known for their great flavour and anti-oxidant functions. The add attractive colour to beverages and also contain a wide variety of minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc.
Siphonochilus aethiopicus, commonly known as wild or African ginger is a highly sought-after indigenous South African plant due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. This high demand has led to over-harvesting of the plant in the wild, and so Zuplex has developed community cultivation programmes to allow for the sustainable harvesting of the plant. African ginger has been used in the treatment of coughs and colds, asthma and respiratory problems as well as headaches and pain-related conditions. It also alleviates symptoms of panic and anxiety.
Hoodia Gordonii is a thorny, perennial succulent native to the semi-desert regions of South Africa. It was used traditionally by the Khoisan as a hunger suppressant. Hoodia is quite common in various dietary supplements due to the presence of chemicals like P57 and gordonoside F which are thought to reduce feelings of hunger by increasing insulin production.
Leonotis leonurus (commonly known as wild dagga, lion's tail or African lion's ear) is part of the mint family and has distinctive bright orange flowers. It is known for its very mild psychoactive stimulating effect and is used as a mood enhancer or relaxant. This effect is produced primarily through the mildly psychoactive alkaloid found in this plant called leonurine. Research indicates that Leonotis may also have anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.
From a health-benefit point of view, the root of this Southern African climbing plant is the most important part, as it has the highest concentration of plant chemicals. The chemicals present in Mondia are most popular for their aphrodisiac function of enhancing fertility amongst males, but it is also used as an appetite stimulant and is anecdotally used for a wider array of ailments like asthma, jaundice, anaemia, allergies, headaches as well as gastrointestinal disorders. Mondia is well known for its captivating vanilla flavour.
Sceletium tortuosum, commonly known as sceletium, kougoed or channa, has gained a lot of attention and popularity in recent years, predominantly for its anti-anxiety, mood-elevating and focus-enhancing properties. Certain varietals are high in the alkaloid mesembrine which is shown to act as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, interacting with the 5-HT receptors in the brain, though there are other alkaloids of interest in the plant too.
Kola nuts are the fruit from the large Kola trees native to tropical rainforests of West Africa. The nut has been used traditionally and ceremonially in Africa as a central nervous system stimulant and has been recognised and incorporated by the West as a powerful flavouring ingredient, and source of caffeine for popular cola drinks (it formed part of the original Coca-Cola recipe).
Withania somnifera, known commonly as Ashwagandha or winter cherry is a well-known adaptogenic herb associated with a feeling of well-being, poise, and calmness. It has been part of the Ayurvedic functional herb tradition for thousands of years and in recent years has been widely celebrated and adopted by the West. It has earthy flavour tones with a hint of bitterness.
Guarana is a well-known climbing plant native to the Amazon basin. It has been used traditionally by Amazonian tribes for centuries and in recent years has become a very popular natural source of caffeine used in energy drinks worldwide. The seeds of the Guarana plant contain high concentrations of caffeine (even more than coffee beans!) as well as other stimulating compounds like theophylline and theobromine. Guarana is also rich in antioxidants, such as tannins, saponins and catechins.
Aframomum melegueta, commonly known as Grains of Paradise is a West African plant related to ginger. The aromatic seeds have a complex flavour profile with notes of cardamom, coriander, citrus, ginger, nutmeg, and juniper and are used for flavouring and medicinal purposes. Various compounds found in the plant are known to have anti-inflammatory properties, to kill certain bacteria and increase metabolic action.
Yerba Mate is a traditional South American herbal tea made from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant. The plant is rich in central nervous system-stimulating compounds like caffeine and theobromine which can boost energy and improve cognitive function, antioxidants like caffeoyl derivatives and polyphenols, and saponins which have well-known anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties. The plant also contains an array of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C and B1, B2, B3. Due to its thermogenic action, Yerba Mate is also used to assist digestion and decrease food cravings.
Zuplex's rosehip is ethically sourced in the mountains of Lesotho from organic wild stocks. Rosehip is known for its particularly high levels of Vitamin C (more than most citrus fruits), and therefore frequently used as an immune booster. It also contains Vitamins B and E as well as various other minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants like Beta Carotene and Lycopene. Rosehips have a unique tangy, sweet, floral flavour and impart a Kola Nut taste.
Hibiscus is cultivated for its brightly coloured flowers, leaves, stems, seeds and roots. Hibiscus flowers and seed extracts are widely used in food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical formulations. It has a long history of use medicinally and is referenced in both the Ayurvedic and the Chinese medicine system. Hibiscus is fairly high in anti-oxidants, vitamin C and calcium. The flowers create an attractive, bright reddish-pink colour and produce a tart, almost-cranberry like flavour.
Prebiotics are derived from various plants and usually contain complex carbohydrates such as fibres. Prebiotics are important in creating and maintaining beneficial micro-organisms in the body and healthy gut bacteria. Some of the Zuplex ingredients such as baobab extract, rosehip extract and hibiscus extract have been shown to create the pre-conditions for healthy digestive micro-organisms.