Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Which is Better, Coconut Water or Coca-Cola?

Sometimes health halos are explicit whereby front-of-package claims such as, "low-fat", "gluten-free", or "organic", might lead people to consume more of the product consequent to its claim induced belief that the product is healthy and/or low cal.

Sometimes though health halos are implicit where the ingredients themselves suggest health.

Take for example the Thirsty Buddha Natural Coconut Water with Coffee. Per can it contains 260 calories and 8 teaspoons of sugar. Drop per drop, compared with Coca Cola, Thirsty Buddha's Coconut Water with Coffee packs nearly 20% more calories.

And while it's true that nutrition's about more than just calories, I'd be willing to wager that there are plenty of folks out there who'd never chug a Coke for fear of weight gain, but who might happily chug a Thirsty Buddha because the implicit promise of "Coconut Water" is that it's both low-cal and healthful.

Always read your labels!

[And if you're in Ottawa tonight and you're looking for something to do, I'll be debating Hasan Hutchinson, the Director General Health Canada's Office of Nutrition. Policy and Promotion (the department in charge of the Food Guide), on whether or not following Canada's Food Guide would lead a person to gain weight. Admission is free! More details here.]

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  1. Rebecca8:00 am

    Always read your labels, no kidding! A better question might be why a beverage that only CONTAINS coconut milk (but also added water AND sugar) is allowed to be called coconut milk. Shouldn't it be labeled "a coconut milk beverage"? "Natural coconut milk" suggests it has not been adulterated - that couldn't possibly have been intentional - could it?? ;-)

  2. Rebecca9:35 am

    And I imagine that the followers of Buddha resent his name and image being used to shill sugar water. Can you imagine the outcry if we had Jesus or Mohammed waters?? LOL!

  3. Anonymous10:06 am

    Buddha would say take only enough water to live or sit with your desire of thirst for a while, not quench it with half a gallon of sugar water.

  4. Your title is not a fair one: It would have been more accurate to state that SOME coconut water products do not compare well to coca-cola, but, you would have been more accurate if you admitted that this was a particularly egregious example of sugared up coconut water.
    The sister regular(?)Thirsty Buddha product contains only 100 calories in a 520 ml can, less than 1/2 of the 260 you mentioned in the product you highlighted. Another product made by Sun Tropics, frequently sold at Costco in Canada, is also 520 ml, and is 54 calories for this oversized can.

    Yes indeed, labels need to be read, double sized cans should not lead us into the trap that these are single servings, and there remains the question that we should really not be drinking fruit juices in general since these calories tend not to contribute to satiety, but many, if not most coconut water products compare favorably with a regular can of coke.

  5. Dr. Yoni,
    Whats your take on Garcinia Cambogia?

  6. That the studies to date are far from conclusive and even in a best case scenario will lead to only an additional 4-5lbs lost. Better just to drink coffee. No shortcuts yet that I'm aware of.

  7. I'm reminded of soccer moms buying cases of water for the team with fruit in 3 or 4 places on the front label. But when you read the fine print on the back its fruit flavored with chemical sweeteners. Now we have Dasani drops---its a whole new survival of the fittest or most aware....

  8. Anonymous11:25 am

    Using that product as an generalized example of coconut water is ridiculous. You might as well just label Coca-Cola as water. Just because a product contains an ingredient does not mean it should be called that ingredient. A better example of coconut water would be Vita Coco, which has 45 calories per serving with 11g sugar. But using a real example would make your story pointless (which it still is).

    This was my first stumble onto this site, and will definitely be my last. Try to be less biased in your postings.