If I had to define coconut water in two words it would undoubtedly be ‘sexy beverage’. Literally, Vita Coco just came out with a lemonade coconut water. It’s slogan: ‘Lemonade was a one piece…we made it a bikini’. For reals. I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but professional athletes and supermodels around the world are promoting coconut water as if it were liquid gold. So why is it so popular?
Truth is, I am constantly asked about the health benefits of coconut water. ‘Will it help me lose weight?’ ‘Why aren’t you (a dietitian) guzzling this stuff?’ ‘If I want to increase muscle definition, I should only be drinking coconut water, right?’ Sweet baby Jesus, the list goes on and on.
I suppose coconut water isn’t all that ‘new’, but I still get questioned on it every few weeks at work and that’s why it is May’s Nutrition Hot Topic. I thought it would be good to hone my standard answer with a bit more research and provide some insight for you people. Psh, you’re welcome – no big deal.
The health-conscious and celebratah are downing coconut water like the world’s last coconuts are falling from palm trees and dehydrating as fast as my skin in December. You see, at baseline, coconut water is made from -oh my God, you guessed it – water! Ahhh. So yeah, it’s hydrating…most water based fluids are. That last statement could send us down a dark, weird path so I’ll move on quickly. Coconut water should not to be confused with coconut milk. Coconut milk is an emulsion of coconut water and grated coconut. Coconut water is the fluid found inside the coconut (also not to be confused with coconut flavoring added to water). Make sense? To make it even simpler, technically coconut water is a type of juice. I’ll wait while the blowing of your mind subsides…
Now then, coconut water’s big claim to fame is its electrolyte content. Think of it as Mother Earth’s
Gatorade. It is a good source of potassium, magnesium and sodium. Potassium is the big spotlight mineral of coconut water. According to The American Heart Association, potassium helps keep our fluid
balance regular, stimulate nerves and contract muscles. Basically our cells need potassium to function properly. Sounds pretty essential, right? But coconut water isn’t the only source of potassium. You know where else it’s found? Fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
So if you have a balanced diet and aren’t working out like Michael Phelps, do you need to be drinking coconut water for its electrolyte content? Only you can answer that question. The answer lies in the calorie content of this sweet, sweet nectar. An average 8-ounce serving carries between 45-60 calories. The real question is, do you need those calories or can you accommodate them in order to prevent weight gain? As most of us know, weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than you burn on a daily basis. I agree dear reader, 45-60 calories does not sound like much. However, if you consumed 8 ounces of coconut water daily for one year and did not account for it in other places of your diet or exercised a tid bit more, it would result in roughly a 5 pound weight gain annually. Food for thought! Don’t believe me on the math? Post your dispute in the comment section below.
Look, I’m all for finding natural hydrating products. Ones that aren’t loaded with artificial sweeteners sound great! I love the initial slogan of Vita Coco. ‘Hydrate Naturally’. Hey fools, you know what else can do the same thing?! A banana and a large glass of water. Just saying. And by all means, omit the banana if you’re not massively hungover or having just finished an aggressive workout.
Finally, to put it simply, the calories in coconut water are coming from it’s carbohydrate content = sugar. I don’t mean to be a dietitian downer, but you should know all the facts. Coconut water is no devil beverage, but consume responsibly with an informed mind.
Happy Hydrating 🙂Resources: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Potassium_UCM_306021_Article.jsp http://www.mayoclinic.org