You might have heard them called superfoods, power foods, or miracle cures. But the research is still out on exactly how beneficial apple cider vinegar, bone broth, coconut oil, and turmeric (shown above) are—and some might have a downside.

Here's a look at some of the claims—and the reality—of superfoods.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The claims: Drinking it regularly fights bacteria, lowers cholesterol, controls blood sugar levels, and aids weight loss. It also fights heartburn, because low acid causes heartburn, and vinegar is an acid.

The reality: It makes for a great salad dressing, but the health benefits of apple cider vinegar are overblown. According to William Chey, M.D., a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, there’s no solid evidence that low acid levels lead to reflux.

And Chey says he has treated several patients who have damaged their esophagus by overdoing it on this vinegar. 

Bone Broth

The claims: It fights inflammation, makes skin look younger, and boosts energy.

The reality: Bone broth is simply stock, which is made by simmering animal or fish bones. “It’s been used as a traditional medicine for hundreds of years, so there are likely benefits, but there isn’t much published research,” says Robin Foroutan, M.S., R.D.N., an integrative nutritionist in New York City and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

It may help with inflammation. But a small study found that chicken broth made with bones had higher lead levels (but still below the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit of 15 parts per billion).

Coconut Oil

The claims: This saturated fat doesn’t raise cholesterol levels the way other saturated fats do. It also promotes weight loss and prevents Alzheimer’s disease.

The reality: Some small studies suggest that coconut oil may be less unhealthy than other saturated fats, such as those in red meat and full-fat dairy products.

Adding a small amount of coconut oil to your diet may be reasonable if you use it to replace other oils or fats, but its purported health benefits haven’t been proved. And like other oils, it contains about 120 calories per tablespoon.


The claims: It kills cancerous tumors and reduces inflammation.

The reality: Studies have shown that curcumin, a compound in this golden-hued spice, can kill and prevent the growth of various types of cancer cells in the lab. And another study suggested that extract of turmeric worked as well as ibuprofen in treating knee osteoarthritis.

In both cases, more research is needed. There’s probably no harm in adding turmeric to your food, but it can potentially interact with some medications, such as blood thinners, so check with your doctor.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the monthly newsletter Consumer Reports on Health.