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Hit or Miss? Green-tea soda, frosting and more

Every week, "Today" show food editor Phil Lempert reviews some of the new items hitting supermarket shelves near you.

It takes a lot for a food product to succeed. In fact, out of more than 30,000 new food items that were introduced in 2003, less than 5 percent were hits. (And less than 10 percent of all new products are still on supermarket shelves three years after they launch.) To help you avoid spending money on the likely failures, here are this week’s Hits and Misses.

Zota Green Tea Soda
Green tea meets soda — it’s a marriage that appears to provide a healthy alternative in a bubble-loving society. (Soda consumption in American is at an all-time high and many feel that this has contributed to America’s obesity.) Zota is made from green tea and contains only certified organic, all-natural ingredients. It gets better: University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol. And the Chinese have known about the medicinal benefits of green tea since ancient times, using it to treat everything from headaches to depression. So, how does it compare in taste to the kinds of soda that most folks are drinking? Well, we think it's pretty good! Flavors are cola, ginger, lemon, lime, orange, raspberry, root beer, and wekiwa (a grapefruit-tangelo hybrid). Retails for $1.39-$1.99.

Planters Heart-Healthy Mix  Since March of 2003, when the Food and Drug Administration announced they would allow nut products to promote heart-healthy attributes, nuts have at last been getting the credit they deserve. Although some nuts are high in fat (macadamia, for instance, weighs in at 72 percent fat), most are not (such as almonds, which are made up of only 5 percent to 9 percent saturated fat). More important, they have an excellent fatty-acid profile. This mix contains peanuts (which are actually legumes, but have a similar nutritional profile to nuts), almonds, pistachios, pecans and hazelnuts, all good sources of monounsaturated fat, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (considered to be beneficial for heart-disease prevention, cholesterol-lowering, cancer prevention and an adjunct to weight loss). We think this is a tasty and healthy combination. Retails for $5.99 for 9.75 ounces.

CONSUMER-NOMINATED HITSMinute Maid Light Mango TropicalHere’s what Joy C. from Willoughby, Ohio, had to say about this product: “It comes in 12-ounce cans in a 12-pack. It is made with real fruit juice and has 10 calories, 2 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of sugar. Great fruity taste with no aftertaste! It tastes so good that I choose it over soft drinks that have more sugar. Raspberry Passion and Guava Citrus are very good, but the Mango is my favorite.” Thanks Joy! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $4.99 for 12 cans.

Betty Crocker Pour & Frost Microwave FrostingHere’s what Mary M. from St. Louis, Mo., had to say about this product: “This pourable frosting is easy to use, and it makes a great-looking cake. And it tastes as good as it looks. It never has to be spread, so there are no crumbs.” Thanks Mary! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $1.79.

Power Water
This company claims that it has a "secret process" of adding oxygen to water. But, apparently they weren’t paying attention to the fact that companies have already tried to fool consumers with this impossible idea — and failed. In November of 2003, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that compared with tap water, "oxygenated" water had no effect on exercise-performance measures in 11 healthy men and women. You’re basically just wasting your money — a single breath of air contains more oxygen than a bottle of oxygenated water. Here’s what we have to say to this firm: Don't underestimate the intelligence of consumers — and do your homework. After all, the last time we looked, water was defined as “H20” and not “H20something else.” Retails for $1.59 to $1.99 for 20 fluid ounces.

Phil Lempert is food editor of the “Today” show. He welcomes questions and comments — as well as nominations for “hits” and “misses” in this column — which can be sent to . If he selects your nomination for publication, he’ll send you a Tote Bag! You can also visit his Web site at .