Coconut water is Nature’s perfect refreshment in hot weather, but also during exercise. It’s low in calories but contains just enough natural sugar to give you a little boost. It’s also very rich in electrolytes (sodium, potassium), but in jus the right quantities.
In some countries, coconut water was used to replace IV fluid in intravenous rehydration. In fact the medical literature documents quite a few cases where coconut water was used for that purpose, usually in remote places with little medical technology.
What are the benefits of coconut water?
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First, it’s loaded with potassium. It’s got just enough sodium to maintain electrolyte balance. So it’s the perfect drink to use as a refreshment in tropical countries, and for light physical activity. For really heavy physical activity, such as running under the hot sun for long period of time, more sodium would be needed than what is found in coconut water. This is where a sports drink such as Gatorade would have an edge, in terms of rehydrating the person and preventing heat strokes.
However, in most cases, coconut water is the bomb.
First of all, most people need to take in more potassium because their diet is pretty high in sodium. Potassium balances out sodium intake.
Then, coconut water is low in calories compared to other refreshments. A can of coke contains about 140 calories, while the same can filled with coconut water contains about 60 calories. A huge difference.
So when should you drink coconut water?
– During exercise: it’s the perfect rehydrating fluid, containing just enough sugar to keep you going. However, like I said, if the exercise is very intensive and you sweat a lot, slightly more sodium would be needed.
– As a great “Pick me up” drink. The dose of potassium and the little natural sugar is great for energy.
– To avoid dehydration, in hot weather, and when doing light activity.
Now, how does coconut water compare to Sports drink such as Gatorade?
Let’s use a “can” of 330 ml as a reference. In this case, let’s compare:
– 60 calories
– 40 mg. sodium
– 680 mg. potassium
– A significant quantity of magnesium (10% of your daily needs)
– Source of vitamin C
– 70 calories
– 42 mg. potassium
– 153 mg. sodium
– Not a source of any other nutrients
So as we can easily tell, coconut water is nature’s Sports Drink, but is heavier in potassium than sodium. In fact, we could consider it a very rich source of potassium. It contains slightly less calories per ounce than Gatorade, which has been formulated to contain more sodium.
Although completely artificial, a product like gatorade would only be more effective, as mentioned previously, in cases where more sodium is needed. But most people already get far too much sodium in their diet already. Unless you exercise like crazy, more is generally not needed.
What About Bottled Coconut Water?
In the past, coconut water wasn’t trendy. In fact, it only started being marketed recently by companies such as:
– Amy and Brian’s Coconut water
In the past, the only way to drink coconut water outside of the tropics would be to buy young coconuts from Asian markets. But as we’ve learned, these coconuts are treated in a very toxic solution before shipping, so there’s a risk of contamination from that.
The main difference with bottled products is that they’ve been pasteurized, and sometimes vitamin C has been added. Is that a big deal?
I don’t think so. It’s much better to get coconut water that’s been pasteurized than “raw” coconut water of dubious origins where the coconut has been dipped in a toxic solution for shipping.
The little pasteurizations doesn’t affect the nutritional qualities (such as electrolytes) of the coconut water.
I’ve tried many brands. At the moment I enjoy the Vita-Coco water because its taste is very close to fresh coconut water, and it’s easy to get. Even Costco now sells it by the case.
If you decide to buy bottled coconut water, make sure it only contains coconut water (and perhaps vitamin C), but no added sugar. Most Asian brands of coconut water will contain added sugar.
In summary, coconut water, whether fresh or bottled, is a great drink to enjoy for rehydration or as an alternative to other sports drink. Only someone doing very heavy exercise, especially in the sun, might need more sodium than what is found in coconut water. Then, adding a pinch of salt to the coconut water will do the job!
Enjoy your next coconut!
PS: Don’t forget to sign up for next week’s Spring Cleanse. Anyone can join. It’s a great way to get back on track with a healthy lifestyle… and yes, coconut water is allowed during the cleanse 🙂 Go to: