Which Health Fads Are Worth the Money?

DailyWorth

More Than 100 Years of Health Fads

View gallery

.
Raquel-torres_web

It’s easy to make fun of the health fads of yesteryear. Around 1900, advertisements touted the benefits of eating tapeworms to rev up metabolism. In the 1940s, there were claims that “bile beans” helped manage digestion. By the 1980s, you or your parents may have bought into the “heart-friendly” oat bran craze as I did. The appeal of these trendy eating habits can be irresistible — and expensive. The logic goes: Who wouldn’t splurge on foods that are supposed to make us slimmer, smarter and more energetic? Today, with all the advances in nutritional science, you’d think that the latest health fads would be anchored in sound medical research...But are they?

Keep reading to find out which of the latest health fads--from cleanses to kale--are worth your money. 

Chia Seeds

View gallery

.
Nutritious-chia-seeds_web

What: This relative of the Chia Pet (really) is a seed that comes from a Mexican plant in the mint family.

The claim: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids (which have been proven to thwart heart disease and cancer), these seeds aren’t just good for your health. When you add water to them, they actually bulk up and create a gel. The theory goes that this gel will help you eat less because it makes you feel full longer than other kinds of foods.

The cost: About $9 for a 12-ounce bag.  Only 1 ounce a day is recommended to reap health benefits.

The verdict: If you’re interested, why not? While researchers say that claims about chia seeds working as an aid for weight loss are unfounded, they are still a whole-grain food that’s rich in fiber, omega-3s and some protein.

Kombucha Tea

View gallery

.
Kombucha-tea_web

What: A semi-fizzy fermented tea made when a patty of bacteria and yeast called a SCOBY or “Big Momma” is added.

The claim: This beverage, with its high-probiotic (er, bacteria) content, is supposed to help with digestion, give you added energy and focus, and boost your immunity and liver function.

The cost: About $5 a bottle, or brew your own SCOBY from tea and sugar.

The verdict: There’s no scientific evidence that kombucha tea can improve your immune system, digestion or liver function. But there have been reported claims of adverse effects from drinking the tea, including stomach upset or worse. While an occasional bottle probably won’t do damage, beware of drinking it (or anything, for that matter) in excess.

Juice Cleanse

View gallery

.
Green-veggie-smoothie_web

What: For three to five days, you live off of vegetable and juice drinks.

The claim: You’ll drop weight fast to kickstart a healthier eating regimen.

The cost: You can make your own concoctions from a high-power Vitamix juicer of your own. Or you can sign up for beverage delivery from many of the juice-cleanse companies around, like BluePrintCleanse or Organic Avenue. Neither option comes cheap: The cost of these veggie drinks and delivery fees can range are up to $75 a day. The cost of a Vitamix machine: $380.

The verdict: Skip it, say most health and nutrition experts--from Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and author of more than a dozen books (including “Eating Well for Optimum Health: The Essential Guide to Food, Diet, and Nutrition”), to Dr. Glenn Braunstein, chairman of the department of medicine at Cedars-Sinai. The drinks may be chock full of vitamins, but many need to be ingested with a little bit of fat (think salad dressing) for absorption.  Plus, any weight you lose is just water weight — the kind that will come right back on once you eat your first real meal again.

Bulletproof Coffee

View gallery

.
Close-up-of-woman-drinking-coffee_web

What: This isn’t your average cup of morning joe. The recipe calls for three ingredients: special Bulletproof “Upgraded” coffee beans, grass-fed butter and coconut palm oil.

The claim: Buttery java may be high fat (up to 195 calories more than the average 5-calorie regular brew), but it promises to help you lose lbs, boost your IQ and give you more energy than caffeine alone. Thanks to the “powerhouse” combo of caffeine and high fat, you’ll feel satisfied longer and more alert from one souped-up cup.

The cost: There’s the specially designed coffee at $18.95 for a ¾-pound bag, a dollop of premium grass-fed butter at $7 for 8-oz package and a 32-ounce jar of coconut oil for $30. Compared to the cost of a regular cup at $10 for a 1-lb bag of beans and a gallon of milk at about $4.50, bulletproof is not budget-friendly.

The verdict: I brace for all the comments from Paleo Diet fans out there. But for most, it’s probably best to stick to Dunkin’ Donuts. Besides the yuck-factor many may feel about butter in your brew, there’s no scientific-evidence-based research to back up the claims (like a higher IQ) from bulletproofing joe. While there’s probably no harm in adding a little butter to your coffee (some cultures do it regularly), research has indicated that drinking coffee alone (in moderation) may protect against disease ranging from diabetes to heart disease. There’s also research to show that grass-fed butter and coconut oil can be good choices for your pantry. But mixing them all together? Probably not likely to make you any smarter than a caveman.

Kale

View gallery

.
Sauteed-kale-with-cranberries-and-pine-nuts_web

What: A versatile, dark leafy veggie consumed in a plethora of forms: from sauteed stir-fries to raw in salads to blended into smoothies to oven-dried chips.

The claim: Kale fights cancer and lowers cholesterol, is loaded with calcium (more than milk and oranges) and is rich in those omega-3 fatty acids again.

The cost: Around $2.30 for a 10-ounce bag

The verdict: Eat up! Here’s where hype meets its match. You can’t beat the price, the culinary versatility and nutrition of this stand-up veggie. The veggie is loaded with nutrients that have clinically proven health benefits. 

 

Coconut Everything

View gallery

.
Few-coconuts-on-green-marble-slab_web

What: This seeded “drupe” has been a documented source of food worldwide since 5th century A.D.   

The claim: Both coconut water and oil are everywhere now. Its water is supposed to offer better hydration than both regular water and sports drinks, thanks to its ideal ratio of carbohydrates, water and electrolytes (a fancy term for chemicals like salt and potassium that we need for proper cell function). Its oil (already mentioned earlier as a key ingredient in bulletproof brew) is said to be a better choice for cooking than butter or olive oil since it is composed of “medium-chain triglycerides” (MCT).

The cost: The beverage is about $2 a serving, and the oil is about $30 for a 32-ounce jar.

The verdict: Try them, but be reasonable about the results. The water is all-natural and does offer an efficient form of hydration. But if you’re training for a intensive event, it may not be sufficient to rehydrate you alone. The oil is also a fine option, but remember: It still has the same amount of calories and grams of fat as other cooking fats. While coconut oil may be heart-healthier than butter because it is a plant-based oil (and therefore cholesterol-free), it isn’t an elixir to be used in excess. 

You Might Also Like:
How to Eat Organic for Less
Note to Self: Small Indulgences Are Worth It
How Much Is Beauty Worth to You?

Rates

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • Tycoon buys 30 Rolls-Royces for Macau hotel

    A Hong Kong tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms to chauffeur guests at a luxury resort he's building in the global gambling capital of Macau. Stephen Hung's $20 million purchase surpasses the 14 Phantoms bought by Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel in…

    Associated Press
  • Our Best-Ever Value Plan for Your Business

    New prices on our Mobile Share Value Plans on the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network.

    AdChoicesAT&T® Small BusinessSponsored
  • Tycoon's arrest sends shock wave through Russia

    Tycoon's arrest sends shock wave through Russia MOSCOW (AP) — The arrest of a Russian telecoms and oil tycoon has sent shock waves through the country's business community, with some fearing a return to the dark days of a decade ago, when the Kremlin asserted its power by imprisoning the country's…

    Associated Press
  • Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks

    Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks While investors gear up for Alibaba Group 's (BABA) hotly anticipated initial public offering, don't forget about other Chinese stocks that are worth keeping an eye on. Today's Young Guns Screen of

    Investor's Business Daily
  • As Fed takes baby steps, Cramer's trick for profit

    In turn, Cramer says making money in the market, involves looking at the environment through the lens of the Fed. "The trick is to remember that they speak for the common person," Cramer said. "The Fed wants the common person to make money." With that backdrop always in mind, Cramer says it becomes…

    CNBC
  • "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savings

    "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savingsBy the time she hit her late 40s, Toni Eugenia wasn’t sure she would ever be able to retire. Eugenia, 56, a pharmacy technician who lived in Houston, was nearly $200,000 in debt and

    Yahoo Finance
  • Costco Stores in Canada to Stop Taking American Express

    “The credit card relationship between American Express and Costco Wholesale Canada will not be renewed when it expires” on Dec. 31, the company said today in an e-mail to Canadian customers. The message was attributed to Lorelle Gilpin, vice president of marketing and membership for Costco…

    Bloomberg
  • Play

    Citi, Bank of America Offer Discounted Mortgages

    Citigroup and Bank of America will offer mortgages at discounted interest rates to help borrowers with low incomes or subprime credit. AnnaMaria Andriotis joins MoneyBeat. Photo: Getty.

    WSJ Live
  • Enjoy this refreshing Triple Play offer!

    Get FIOS TV Mundo starting at $79.99/mo. w/ no annual contract + 2-yr. price guarantee. Or sign for 2 yrs. & get a $300 prepaid Visa. Click here.

    AdChoicesVerizon FiOS ®Sponsored
  • CNBC Anchor Calls Out Fed-Hater Bill Fleckenstein In Startling Shouting Match

    CNBC Bill Fleckenstein of Fleckenstein Capital appeared on CNBC's Futures Now program on Tuesday. Futures Now host Jackie DeAngelis came out swinging, asking Fleckenstein right at the top if he was willing to admit that he had misunderstood monetary policy. Sounding taken aback, Fleckenstein…

    Business Insider
  • Beanie Babies creator's sentence debated in court

    Beanie Babies creator's sentence debated in court CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors seeking to put the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies in prison for hiding millions in Swiss bank accounts told appellate court judges Wednesday that the toymaker's sentence of probation threatens to erode the…

    Associated Press
  • Apple to unveil new iPads, operating system on Oct. 21 : report

    The company plans to unveil the sixth generation of its iPad and the third edition of the iPad mini, as well as its operating system OS X Yosemite, which has undergone a complete visual overhaul, the Internet news website said. Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment. The iPad is…

    Reuters
  • Margaritaville casino owners seek bankruptcy

    The owner of Biloxi's Margaritaville casino has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, only hours before a hearing where the landlord aimed to seize the property. The filing by MVB Holding LLC in U.S. Don Dornan, a lawyer for landlord Clay Point LLC, said the company had planned to ask…

    Associated Press
  • Embraer to sell 50 E-175 jets to Republic in $2.1 billion deal

    Brazil's Embraer SA, the world's third largest commercial planemaker, said on Wednesday it booked a firm order from U.S. The deal, which will be included in Embraer's order book for the third quarter, is valued at $2.1 billion, the planemaker said in a securities filing. The planes will be operated…

    Reuters
  • Play

    What the Fed Meeting Means for Bonds

    Janet Yellen & Co. are expected to hint at their timetable for raising interest rates. Here's how investors should prepare ahead of the meeting.

    WSJ Live
  • A Lot's Changed Since You Graduated High School

    Including the cost of college tuition. Start saving for a child's education today with the Delaware College Investment Plan.

    AdChoicesFidelity InvestmentsSponsored
  • Gilead Stock Is Falling On These Drug Setbacks

    Gilead Stock Is Falling On These Drug Setbacks Gilead Sciences (GILD) shares are backsliding Wednesday on news that the patient drop-out rate for hepatitis C drug Sovaldi is quadruple that of clinical trials. In addition, the biotech's Phase 2 study results

    Investor's Business Daily
  • Here's What Mark Cuban Wishes He Knew About Money In His 20s

    Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. Billionaire investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban is generous with his advice. When we asked him what he wishes he'd known about money in his 20s, he said:

    Business Insider
  • SHOE COMPANY: Our CEO Just Disappeared And Most Of The Money Is Gone

    "and like that: he's gone." This is an actual headline from a company press release: "CEO and COO disappeared, most of the company's cash missing." (Via FastFT) In a statement, German-based shoe company Ultrasonic said its CFO,  Chi Kwong Clifford Chan, has been unable to reach the company's CEO,…

    Business Insider
  • Don't buy Alibaba stock: 'Dean of Valuation'

    Investors should steer clear of Alibaba , valuation expert Aswath Damodaran said Wednesday. On CNBC's " Fast Money ," Damodaran, a professor of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business, noted that he was looking at Alibaba stock from the perspective of a long-term investor, not a…

    CNBC
  • 10 rock-solid stocks for conservative investors

    10 rock-solid stocks for conservative investors Shares with low volatility can beat their indexes with less risk Bloomberg News/Landov U.S. Bancorp is the cheapest S&P 500 stock

    MarketWatch
  • Billionaire Investor Says Chinese People Work Harder And Western Companies Could Face Deep Trouble After Alibaba IPO

    Michael Moritz, the chairman of VC firm Sequoia Capital, is a huge fan of Chinese internet companies and reiterated his enthusiasm for the Chinese market in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. The billionaire investor described the Alibaba IPO as a “major landmark event” that is as…

    Business Insider
  • 1 Tip To Lose Belly Fat

    It's Hollywood's Hottest Diet And Gets Rid Of Stubborn Fat Areas Like Nothing Else.

    AdChoicesagoodcooksSponsored
  • Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More

    Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More Stocks were firm on Wednesday morning ahead of the FOMC meeting outcome. Tuesday’s rally may have sparked higher interest again, and investors are looking for bargains

    24/7 Wall St.