Coconut water just a super-fad?

There’s no shortage of talk about Mother Nature’s tropical cocktail these days, but any ‘healthy’ drink that gets so much buzz – and is so ridiculously tasty – makes us wonder if it’s too good to be true. Depending on who you ask, coconut water is a miracle beverage... or barely better than soda. So before you reach for another bottle, here are the facts on coconut water.
Not to be confused with coconut milk (a concoction of coconut water and freshly grated coconut), coconut water is all-natural carbs, straight up. A clear, sweet liquid with a nutty taste, it’s found inside young, green coconuts; the sterile water is usually harvested at the nine-month point. If you’re lucky enough to have access, fresh is best, says Barbara Mendez, RPh, MS, a nutritionist and registered pharmacist. “Fresh coconut water has not been pasteurised, therefore it contains enzymes that help to detoxify and repair the body,” she explains. Most of what you’ll find in stores is pasteurised or from concentrate. “It’s still a great way to hydrate yourself and it will still contain minerals, but it’s pasteurised, therefore, not raw,” she adds.
Devotees of coconut water frequently praise its ability to keep the body well-hydrated. “Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes, such as potassium, necessary for proper hydration,” Mendez states. “Electrolytes are also necessary for proper muscle contraction and to generate energy in the body.” And, she adds, even if you’re a Bugles-munching couch potato, the potassium in coconut water can counteract the potential hazards – hypertension, for instance – of a high-sodium diet of processed and refined foods. (If you medically need to restrict your potassium intake, however, avoid coconut water.)
 So, what’s the catch? Check the ingredients before you start chugging. “It’s important to read the label for added sugars,” says Stacy Rothschild, dietitian. “Choose the unflavoured, natural varieties; otherwise, you might be consuming all that added sugar that you would get from fruit juice or a soda.” Someone looking to cut calories may want to avoid guzzling gallons of coconut water, too. “Consider the added calories that coconut water provides – generally 46 calories per cup – while water has zero calories,” says Rothschild.
Bottom line: For flavour, potassium, and hydration, coconut water is a healthful choice. But, if you are trying to lose a few extra pounds, sipping on plain water is undoubtedly a better option. Nothing nutty about that.

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