Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Magic Foods For All That Ails?

Some foods claim to go beyond filling our bellies to preventing and treating various health problems. But are these claims valid?

coconut drink on beach

Photo: JorgeBRAZIL (Flickr)

Coconut water comes from young coconuts that are still green.

‘Natural’ Hydration

Coconut water isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Since times immemorial, many inhabitants of tropical latitudes have relied on it for hydration.

Modern American consumers, however, are looking to coconut water as a natural alternative to sports drinks due to its low calorie count and high potassium content.

But dieticians advise that a balanced diet will provide all the minerals a person needs. For instance, potatoes, kidney beans, lentils and spinach are all good sources of potassium.

Buyer Beware

Recently, another ostensibly “magic” drink maker was taken to court by the Federal Trade Commission. In May, POM Wonderful — the manufacturer of 100 percent Pomegranate juice and POM X supplement — was ordered to cease and desist what an administrative judge ruled was false advertising.

The products’ labels asserted that they could treat diseases like prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction, but expert witnesses testified there is insufficient scientific evidence to support such claims.

Decisions, Decisions

The next time you’re at the co-op and you’re trying to decide whether to buy a big bunch of local bok choy or a small expensive bottle of coconut water or pomegranate juice, it’s worth remembering there may be cheaper, fresher and more local ways to keep healthy.

Read More:

  • Is The Coconut Water Craze All It’s Cracked Up To Be? (NPR)
  • Judge Says Pom Wonderful’s Advertising Is Misleading (New York Times)
  • ‘Functional food’ is hot, but its claims of health benefits rely on flimsy data (Washington Post)
  • Is Coconut Water Really Better Than Sports Drinks? (Mother Jones)
Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Bloomington, Indiana. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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