When looking at the latest in health trends, it can be tough telling what’s truth and what’s clever marketing. This is certainly the case with coconut water.
Coconut water is literally the liquid found inside a coconut and not to be confused with coconut milk. The hype is that it somehow has the power to hydrate better than good, old-fashioned, water. It’s so packed with reenergizing electrolytes and nutrients, you see.
Or so they say.
The scientific literature does not support the hype that it will help with a laundry list of diseases. “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 [registered dietician Lilian] Cheung.
Yes, it’s true that coconut water contains electrolytes and nutrients, but the levels are mostly insignificant with the exception of potassium and sodium. However, most folks get plenty of those already.
More, the actual nutritional content can vary wildly from brand to brand, bottle to bottle. .
Certain varieties contain more sugar and one brand may have more vitamins and minerals than another. It’s also important to note that the Mayo Clinic also says the amount of electrolytes can vary as the coconut ages, due to changes as a result of the maturation process.
Nor is there much evidence supporting the idea that coconut water helps rehydrate better than other options. In fact,
the evidence suggests that, when consumed in adequate quantities, plain water, coconut water and sports drinks are all comparable.
But unlike plain water, coconut water contains sugar – less than fruit juice, soda, and sports drinks, but sugar is sugar. And like those drinks, coconut water is more acidic, with an average pH between 5 and 5.4.
Tooth enamel dissolves below a pH of 5.5.
Some brands even contain added sugar, probably because unsweetened versions of coconut water aren’t exactly what some folks would call tasty.
“Tasted like I licked someone laying on the beach.”
“A little sour, not in a good way.”
That being said, if you count yourself among coconut water’s fans, it can be okay to enjoy it once in a while – just as kombucha, with its probiotic punch, can be enjoyed once in a while. Its sugar content is lower. It’s less acidic than soda pop, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
Cheers to that!