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Ethical Eating

Coconut Water May Not Be All It's Cracked Up to Be

Every other month, it's something new on the health front.

Pomegranate juice will cure all your ailments. Never mind; it's ridiculously high in sugar.

Kombucha is a miracle immune booster. Oh, wait -- it can kill you.

Now, coconut water is all the rage. Billed as yet another miracle liquid, global sales are reaching $400 million per year.

Great for the coconut industry, but according to an article by the New York Times, most consumers are unaware that marketers have scaled back on their claims of healthful benefits.

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When coconut water made its big break into the market a decade ago, it was hailed for its ability to fight viruses, combat aging, prevent cancer, and stave off kidney disease and other ailments.

But since its growth in popularity, marketers have scaled back on these claims.

Vita Coco, one of the biggest brands, once declared that it had 15 times more electrolytes than sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, without the nefarious added sugar.

Sounds great, right?

Not so fast. In 2011, a class-action lawsuit argued that the nutritional info on Vita Coco's packaging exaggerated the mineral content of the beverage. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to cease its claims that its product hydrates better than sports drinks.

To follow up, Vita Coco funded a 2012 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. It found that water beat out both coconut water and sports drinks.

That's not to say coconut water doesn't contain plenty of minerals, but the same amounts are found in plenty of other foods. An average container of coconut water contains 660 milligrams of potassium. White beans have 561 milligrams; a banana has 422.

Lesson learned: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

And anyway, we're sure the next big miracle juice is right around the corner.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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Sara Ventiera

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