Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size
A
A
A

The New Miracle Foods


WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

Delia A. Hammock, M.S., R.D.

Good Housekeeping Magazine Logo

The hottest new items in supermarkets are making amazing claims. But do they really work — and are they safe? GHRI investigates.


It can be hard to tell if you're at the grocery store or the pharmacy these days. More and more food products tout medical benefits that go way beyond basic nutrition. Called "functional foods," they contain specific ingredients that have been added to promote good health. But do they? You won't always be able to tell from the label. The Food and Drug Administration is considering new regulations for functional foods, but for now, here's what you need to know about the most popular items on shelves.

For Energy

Last year, close to 200 energy-boosting drinks were introduced in the United States, with sales increasing by more than 50 percent in 2006 alone, report marketing firms. These drinks were once pitched primarily to extreme-sport athletes and young clubgoers, but some have now gone mainstream and are being marketed to — you guessed it — tired moms.

On the shelves: Tab Energy, Arizona Green Tea Energy Drink, Red Bull Energy Drink, Glacéau Vitamin-water Energy, SoBe Adrenaline Rush, Naked All Natural Energy 100% Juice Smoothie, and the just-released (and provocatively named) Cocaine Energy Drink.

Claims: "To keep you on your feet, not on your face," promises the Naked Energy juice. Generally, these products claim they'll get you going, improve concentration, and increase endurance, among other things.

Evidence: Many of the drinks are laced with caffeine or the caffeine-containing herb guarana. An 8.4-ounce can of Cocaine, for example, contains 280 milligrams of caffeine — about three times the amount in a cup of home-brewed coffee (which has about 95 mg). Caffeine is an effective stimulant; numerous studies have shown that when people take it at lower doses (20 to 200 mg), they report feeling more energetic, efficient, and alert. Some of the drinks also contain add-ins like ginseng, the amino acid taurine, and B complex vitamins, but there's little evidence that these offer any benefit.

Shopping advice: An energy drink may help you through an afternoon slump. But keep your daily caffeine total under 300 mg.

Watch out for: Too much caffeine, which can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, especially if you suffer from anxiety or hypertension. If taken too close to bedtime, caffeine can also keep you from falling asleep — and sleep has been proven to boost energy. Calories may be a problem too: Some products are so high in sugar, they may weigh you down more than pick you up. SoBe Adrenaline Rush, for example, has 260 calories and 66 grams of sugar (that's 16 teaspoons!). At that rate, you could have a brownie instead.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

vegetables
Video
feet on scale
Blog
 
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Article
Hot cup of coffee
Quiz
 
pantry
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens