“Listen up!” exclaims an animated bottle of Ensure Nutrition Shake in a 2010 television ad. “I’m here to get the lady of the house back on her feet.” The Nutrition In Charge ad campaign suggests that Ensure nutrition drinks can help put you on the path to healthier eating and better nutrition, but it may leave you wondering about the ingredients in Ensure drinks and how they can fit into a healthy, nutritious diet.
Ensure is a product of Abbott Nutrition, a division of Abbott Laboratories, an international health corporation based in Chicago, Illinois. Abbott Labs researches, develops and markets pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and nutritional products. In addition to Ensure, Abbott’s Nutrition division makes Isomil and Similac infant formulas, Pedialyte and PediaSure for infants and children, Glucerna for adults with diabetes and ZonePerfect nutrition bars for adults.
Ensure is a nutritional supplement drink, similar to those doctors prescribe for nursing home patients who may refuse meals or find it difficult to eat. Abbott Nutrition intends Ensure drinks for supplemental use with meals or between meals, according to the Ensure product page on the Abbott Nutrition website. The company does not market Ensure as a meal replacement drink, although the website states that it may be used for “interim sole-source feeding.”
The manufacturer markets Ensure nutritional drinks to medical professionals for patients who are nutritionally at risk, including those who are recovering from surgery and medical procedures and those who are suffering from involuntary weight loss. It markets Ensure to the public as a nutritionally balanced between-meals drink for busy, active adults who may not always take the time to eat balanced meals.
Abbott Nutrition claims that Ensure is an excellent source of 24 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. An 8-oz serving of Ensure provides about 250 calories. Some Ensure products include a proprietary ImmunBalance formula that provides 2g of prebiotic and antioxidant ingredients–vitamins C and E, as well as selenium–which promote and nourish healthy bacteria in the digestive system, according to a pamphlet published by Abbott Nutrition and aimed at medical professionals.
The main ingredients in all Ensure drink varieties are water, sugar and corn maltodextrin, a processed corn starch typically used as a filler, binder and thickener. They also contain milk and soy protein, canola oil, soy oil and lecithin. The remaining ingredients include the vitamins and minerals that you’d typically find in about one-half a multivitamin pill, according to registered dietitian Kathleen Goodwin, writing at The Diet Channel website.
Ensure Nutrition Shakes come in six flavors, including Rich Dark Chocolate, Homemade Vanilla, Creamy Milk Chocolate, Strawberries and Cream, Butter Pecan and Coffee Latte. Ensure Plus, a related nutritional drink that provides 350 calories in an 8-oz serving, also comes in the same six flavors.
- peanut butter milkshake image by Jason Murillo from Fotolia.com