First of all, what is coconut water?
Not to be confused with coconut milk or coconut meat, coconut water is the clear liquid found in young coconuts. They’ve always been a popular drink in the tropics, especially in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, where they are readily available. Packaged brands of this drink have recently taken the U.S. by storm with their claims of all-natural nourishment and ample electrolytes. Supposedly, they are a healthy alternative to sports drinks and water with electrolytes (this is the ‘claim’ behind coconut water) because drinks like Gatorade are known to have lots of sugar, calories, and artificial flavors and artificial colors.
However, according to ConsumerLab.com, these claims may not have much merit. Sodium levels, the main advertised benefit of coconut water, were tested in the three most popular brands. It turns out that Zico Natural Premium Coconut Water was the only brand that contained amounts near that of a drink like Gatorade.The other two brands only had 18 and 59 percent of the advertised sodium levels. Sodium is a common electrolyte that is lost through sweat.
Don’t dismiss this beverage just yet though. There is still far less sugars in coconut water than in Gatorade (about half as much), and there are none of those artificial sweeteners and colors which we should be avoiding. In addition, coconuts contain a variety of antioxidants and other nutrients. Also, the Consumer Lab report does state that it is an excellent source of potassium. So, unless you are an athlete like Michael Phelps or someone that needs serious sodium and other electrolyte replacement from strenuous exercise and sweating, supplement your health with a fresh coconut once in awhile. The benefits may be slightly questioned in the Consumer Lab study, but they are backed by generations of practice and tradition.
Try my Homemade Electrolyte Drink without the sugars:
1 Whole Lemon Squeezed
1 Teaspoon Dissolved Celtic Sea Salt
1 Liter of Pure Water
Optional: either 1/2 cup coconut water or juice of 1 whole orange.