Monday, August 12, 2013

The truth about 4 popular health drinks

The truth about 4 popular health drinks

If you think you're making a smart choice by throwing back a good-for-you packaged drink, you may want to double check the label
By Dana Leigh Smith

If you think you're making a smart choice by throwing back a good-for-you packaged drink, you may want to double check the label. Many beverages branded with health claims aren't actually as nutritious as they claim to be -- and people are starting to catch on. A slew of angry beverage consumers have recently taken legal action for being misled, and judges are ruling in their favor.
Just recently, a U.S. Federal judge recommended that Coca-Cola change the labeling and marketing of their vitaminwater drinks as a result of a class-action lawsuit against the company that claims Coca-Cola overstated the drinks' health benefits. The Dr Pepper Snapple Group faced similar troubles recently for misrepresenting the benefits of their vitamin E-infused 7-Up sodas. And yet another group filed suit against PepsiCo.'s Naked Juice products for falsely labeling their beverages as natural and GMO-free. In response, the company stripped the words "All Natural" from their bottles and paid a $9 million settlement.
With so many "health" beverages on the market, it can be tough to tell which ones live up to their labels' lofty claims, says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, owner of the Manhattan-based practice Your New York Dietitian. While some drinks actually do have health benefits, others aren't worth the money (or calories). Here, Moskovitz shares which bottles are better left on the shelf.
Vitamin Enhanced Beverages like vitaminwater
The Stats: In each 20-ounce bottle, there are 0-120 calories and 0-32 grams of sugar.
The Claim: Vitaminwater is a healthy alternative to water and sugary soft drinks -- and they promote joint health, immunity, and eye health, according to the brand's labeling and marketing messages.
Reality Check: Skip it. It's better to get vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. Plus, the full-calorie varieties are loaded with sugar -- and the no- or low-calorie ones are made with artificial sweeteners that can cause blood sugar spikes and digestive trouble.
Coconut Waters like Zico
The Stats: In each 11.2-ounce bottle, there are 60 calories and 14 grams of sugar.
The Claim: According to the brand's website, the "all natural" beverage is loaded with five different electrolytes -- sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus -- to help the body stay hydrated and prevent cramping.
Reality Check: Coconut water naturally contains electrolytes that can help hardcore exercisers stay hydrated -- but you don't really need the extra nutrients (or sugar!) unless you're exercising for more than an hour, says Moskovitz.
"Natural" Bottled Juices like Naked Juice
The Stats: In each 8-ounce bottle, there are 110-170 calories and 22-32 grams of sugar.
The Claim: This all natural, no-sugar-added drink is full of nutrients like vitamin B6, chlorella, choline and grape seed extract to give drinkers a natural "boost," according to the brand's website.
Reality Check: Don't be fooled by products with the words "no sugar added" printed on the label, says Moskovitz. Just one bottle of some varieties has up to 60 grams of sugar -- that's more than what you'd find in two 12-ounce cans of soda! And although the "boosters" in this beverage aren't harmful, there is limited scientific evidence to support they have any benefit.
Ready-to-Drink Protein Shakes like Muscle Milk Light
The Stats: In each 14-ounce bottle, there are 158-190 calories and 0 grams of sugar.
The Claim: Makers of this protein-packed drink say on their website that Muscle Milk can be used for everything from a post-workout recovery drink to an on-the-go meal replacement.
Reality Check: Not only are bottled protein drinks convenient, but they can also be healthier than prepping a shake at home, where it's easy to go overboard with the add-ins, says Moskovitz. So if you're a gym rat looking to build lean muscle or a vegetarian who wants to take in more protein, go ahead and grab one. Just look for bottled varieties with less than 100 calories and no more than 10 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving.

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