Coconut Water: Health Food or Health Fad?
Often referred to as “Nature’s Gatorade”, coconut water has become a hot topic in the news. So, what is this
new drink and is it worth all the hype?
What Is Coconut Water?
Not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk or oil, coconut water is a clear liquid that comes from the center of a young, green coconut. It tastes nutty and slightly sweet. Due to its electrolyte and sugar content, coconut water is used by some athletes as a sports drink. As a beverage, coconut water can serve as a healthier option because it contains several important nutrients and relatively few calories. It’s especially high in potassium and vitamin C. If you are trying to limit calories in your diet, replacing high calorie beverages (soda and sugary beverages) with coconut water may be a good option for you. Be sure to keep track of how many servings of coconut water you have in a day. At 60 calories per 11-ounce container (not too bad for one drink), your total caloric intake can add up quickly if you drink more than one. Always check labels when choosing coconut water and avoid those with added sugar or juices.
In addition to the important nutrients it contains, coconut water also contains sodium (which is why it serves as a good “sports drink,” replenishing lost electrolytes).But if you’re not using coconut water as a sports drink, be sure to limit the amount of sodium you get from other foods and beverages throughout the day.
Per 1 ounce:
Typical Sports Drink
|5.45 calories||6.25 calories|
|1.3g sugar||1.75g sugar|
|61mg potassium||3.75mg potassium|
|5.45mg sodium||13.75 mg sodium|
Health Claims and Coconut Water
Several health claims have been associated with drinking coconut water such as: cancer prevention, slowing down the aging process, smoother skin, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, preventing hangovers, breaking up kidney stones, and even that it may cure a range of digestive disorders. However, it is important to mention that these statements are not supported by scientific research. Also, be aware that in 2006, the FDA classified the coconut as a tree nut after a few allergic reactions were documented.
To date, the most convincing studies appear to focus on coconut water’s ability to rehydrate the body after exercise. These studies suggest that after vigorous exercise coconut water has the same positive effect as a sport drink. When should you “rehydrate” with coconut water? Similar to recommendations for consuming a sports drink, most athletes need to replenish their electrolytes if exercise is strenuous and lasts for 90 minutes or more.
Look for these brands at your local ShopRite!
Zico Pure Coconut Water, O.N.E. Coconut Water, and Vita Coco 100% All Natural Coconut Water