Coconut Water, Whats so Good About It?

Called “dew from the heavens,” or “noelani” by Hawaiians coconut water has been drank for years in tropical countries.  With help from celebrity spokespersons, health trends, and marketing, coconut water has been filling beverage coolers across the country.  To keep up with demand, new product launches in North America have grown to 35% from, 17% in 2008. There seems to be an endless list of health benefits that coconut water has to offer, but before buying into all of the craze and drink bottles after bottles maybe we should know what’s in this stuff.coconut-water-6f51be99d73fb9aacd1358747aea2de85aa4d2ff-s6-c30

Coconut water is not to be confused with coconut milk.  The liquid is clear (95 percent water), light, and extracted from young, green coconuts that have not reached maturity.  Young coconuts differ in that they are white, smooth, and pointed on one end, on the other, rather than the common brown hairy ones.

The most prominent nutrition benefit that coconut water has to offer is potassium.  Potassium is found in many foods, but Americans usually fall short of their daily requirements, mainly because they don’t eat enough fruits and veggies.  On top of that there is no fat or cholesterol and not many calories, perfect for marketing as a healthy product.  Coconut water contains electrolytes, vitamins, amino acids, organic acids, enzymes, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and plant nutrients.

Beyond containing nutrients, the scientific literature does not support the hype that this drink actually beneficial. “There is a lot of hype about coconut water, yet the research is just not there to support many of the claims and much more research is needed,” says Lillian Cheung, DSc, RD, of Harvard School of Public Health, “while coconut water is low in calories, rich in potassium, and fat and cholesterol free, the evidence that it is actually better than plain water for simple hydration is unfortunately lacking.”

Dubbed “Mother Nature’s sports drink” by marketers, the demand is skyrocketing.  If you exercise for 30 minutes a day at a moderate to high intensity, fresh, pure water is the best thing to help you stay hydrated.  According to Ms. Zelman, coconut water may potentially be better at keeping you hydrated than a sports drink or water.  Zelman describes a study published in 2010 from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise which demonstrated that coconut water replaced body fluids as good as a typical sports drink, and slightly better than water. Other studies have shown that drinking coconut water with added sodium is as good as a typical sports drink for re-hydration after exercise.  Although coconut water is rich in potassium, it is low in carbohydrates and sodium- two potential issues for those who do endurance training or prolonged aerobic workouts.

Coconut water has it benefits, even has been used as an emergency substitute for IV solutions.  But as far as making it a part of your daily diet it’s not necessary and there is no proof of its benefits.  This product is great as an alternative to any other sugar-sweetened beverage because it is lower in calories and the nutrients are a extra bonus.  But experts from the Mayo Clinic strongly suggest that you consider maintaining an active lifestyle if consuming large amounts of coconut water since each eight ounce serving is accompanied by 45 to 60 calories.  Unless you really enjoy the taste, its not worth the $3 a bottle.  Stick to plain water, it’s all you need.

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Posted on April 6, 2014, in Food. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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