California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

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Coconut Water and Acai Berries: Wonders or Just Hype?

Whether it’s condensation from green coconuts or tiny berries from tall Brazilian trees, American shoppers are after better health through overpriced, exaggerated marketing schemes that turn out to be mediocre products with ridiculous prices.

Coconut water:

In the last five years, the popular Southeast Asian drink has caught on in the United States health food industry. Coconut water is an all-natural (water) drink harvested from young coconuts. Coconut water is said to be fat-free, have low sodium, no cholesterol, and packed with potassium and electrolytes. It has been marketed by some health food stores as “nature’s sports drink.”

In 2009, an independent manufacturing company, Vita Coco, sold over $20 million coconut water “boxes.” Soon after, the Coca-Cola company caught on to the newest beverage fad, and released their Zico brand of coconut water—their numbers have now totaled over $25 million in sales.

So is coconut water a miracle drink, or just another marketing scheme? Although it is true that drinking coconut water might be lighter on calories and sugar than other electrolyte-packed beverages like Gatorade, coconut water was not exactly made to cure all the ailments the advertisers say. Unfortunately, coconut water will clean out your wallet before it does your arteries-the average price for a small 14-ounce container is just under $3.

According to Zico’s website, one serving of coconut water has more potassium than a banana, and also contains five electrolytes to help recharge your body after working out, all while providing all the natural hydrating benefits of the best, most pure water.

Nutritionally speaking, there is nothing in coconut water that can’t be consumed for under one dollar. Coconut water’s biggest declaration is the source of natural potassium—which isn’t something that is hard to find. Zico’s coconut water has about 540mg of potassium per serving. One cup (8 ounces) of carrot juice (which costs a little over four dollars per gallon) has nearly 700mg of potassium. Coconut water also has electrolytes with low sugar – Smart Water also contains electrolytes with NO sugar. Additionally, according to Discovery Health’s website, the body uses natural electrolytes in the same way as artificially added electrolytes, like the ones in sports drinks.

Although coconut water isn’t going to hurt anyone, it certainly isn’t going to solely make a dramatic difference in one’s health. People interested in consuming more potassium can go about doing so in a much cheaper, more delicious way.

Acai berry products:

Perhaps one of the biggest and most versatile health food trends are Acai berry products. Acai berries, a super-fruit native to Brazil, are used in serums, supplements, tea, juice, shakes, protein bars and many other food products. Acai berries promise to do everything—from weight loss, hypertension relief, increased sex drive, to improved hair, skin and nails.

Most often, Acai berry products are marketed as weight loss supplements. Acai Berry Cleanse, a weight loss supplement found in drug stores all across America, promises that users will shed unwanted body fat, eliminate stored toxins and body waste and regulate digestion.

Even though Acai berries are indeed a healthy source of antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids and fiber, there is no existing scientific data to prove that they help shed any weight all on their own. Whether it’s Acai berries, blueberries or otherwise, the “magic” ingredient that gets rid of one too many nights of Taco Bell on our hips has yet to be discovered.

It is important to note that these and many other health food products wouldn’t exist if a majority of Americans didn’t have a problem in the first place. These and many other health foods rely on the markets opposite of them for their own sustainability.

All criticism aside, trying new health food trends can make trips to the grocery store more exciting – and you may even find something you like. Just don’t expect it to work any of the miracles advertised on the container.

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Coconut Water and Acai Berries: Wonders or Just Hype?