Seemingly overnight, coconut water has gone from niche to national, with annual sales climbing upwards of $400 million and big beverage companies getting into the game. Is coconut water all it’s cracked up to be? Here’s the scoop:
What is coconut water?
Coconut water comes from the inside of a young, green coconut. It is a clear liquid with a unique taste that has both a hint of sweetness and a touch of brininess. It is low in calories (45 calories in 8 ounces), rich in potassium and is fat free. (Do not confuse it with coconut milk, a rich, creamy liquid extracted from the meat of a mature coconut.)
The pros and cons
Thanks to some shark-y marketing tactics, coconut water has been touted as a miracle cure and super-hydrator, but these claims have been debunked and main stream marketers have moved on to promoting what coconut water really offers: an all-natural, appealing drink that has a lot less sugar and none of the artificial additives of soft drinks, “juice” drinks, sports drinks and many flavored waters on the market. Also, 8 ounces of coconut water naturally contains about as much potassium as a banana.
The downside is that although coconut water is low in calories, it is not calorie-free. And since our bodies don’t register calories from beverages the same way it does for food, it is generally best to avoid drinking calories. For everyday thirst quenching you are better off drinking regular water and getting your potassium (and other nutrients) at mealtimes.
Also, if you are an athlete or working out intensely for more than 90 minutes at a stretch, coconut water will not offer you the rapid hydration of a sports drink because it does not contain enough carbohydrate and sodium to make it any more effective than water.
The Bottom Line
Coconut water is a fun, tasty and healthy drink option, so go for it once in a while if you want something different. But keep in mind that it does contain calories, so water is still your best bet throughout the day.