Blog: Coconut water health claims may be exaggerated

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Coconut water is the clear liquid found in young, green coconuts. It has long been a popular beverage in the tropics because it is so highly available and fresh. Recently, coconut water popularity has begun to transition to the United States as well. Marketers promote coconut water by advertising the drink as fat free, cholesterol free, low in carbohydrates and calories and high in potassium. However, some of these claims attributing significant nutritional value may be exaggerated.

Vita Coco pure Coconut water (Photo courtesy Vita Coco)

Is it worth the price?

Coconut water sales have doubled in the past few years, and reached an estimated $110 million in the U.S. But is it just a fleeting trend? The benefits seem endless — rapid hydration, low acidity, high potassium and all-natural electrolytes. Depending on the brand, the price of one 11 oz. bottle sells for up to $3. Andrea Giancoli, spokeswoman for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said that is it no miracle:

Potassium is important for heart health, she says, regulating blood pressure and other body systems. But coconut water is “not magical,” says Giancoli. People do not need to drink coconut water in order to be healthy, she says. “There’s plenty of potassium in food and if you eat a healthy diet, you’ll get all you need.”

All-natural sports drink vs. artificial sports drinks

The world has become more aware of artificially flavored beverages, which has led to an increase in seeking out natural alternatives. Coconut water is marketed as an all-natural sports drink. It contains five important electrolytes — potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorous — so it looks especially appealing to the health-conscious fitness community. Coconut water companies’ claim that it is the best re-hydrating post-workout drink. The high potassium content in coconut water compared to other sports drinks like Gatorade helps counteract the effects ofdehydration. In an average serving, coconut water contains 569 mg of potassium whereas Gatorade has 52.5 mg.

Coconut water is known for its hydrating effects, but some nutritionists claim that it isn’t necessary for anyone but serious athletes. The purpose of a sodium- and potassium-enhanced beverage is to replenish the sodium lost through sweat. But for most people who work out for an hour or less a day, it would be best to stick to pure water. Why pay the extra cash for no additional benefits?

What are other benefits of coconut water?

This clear, nutritious liquid is known to be rich in several vitamins and minerals that aid in heart health. Because of the high content of potassium, coconut water helps regulate blood pressure. It is also capable of increasing HDL cholesterol, which maintains cardiovascular health. Experts claim that diets high in potassium reduce the risk of kidney stones. If you are prone to kidney stones, it may be wise to start drinking coconut water.

So, is it the new fountain of youth product?

Although coconut water is not the world’s new super food, it isn’t a complete scam. Yes, some of the health claims may be exaggerated but, overall it offers plenty of nutritional benefits for the body. A major drawback is the price. Pure water is free and has always been the healthiest option. If you enjoy the taste of coconut water and don’t mind the price, then at least you know it is healthy and beneficial for the body. But, it is no miracle drink.

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