I love coconut water. I love the taste of it, and I love drinking it over ice. Drinking it floods my mind with memories of living in Singapore some 40 years ago and a flavor I remember as a child. I have enjoyed fresh coconut water in Barbados, cut open with a machete and sold warm under the sun in a plastic bottle, or served with a straw right from the uncrowned fruit. I have also drunk commercially packaged coconut water as a popular post-workout drink, or after a 5K race like many others.
As I started writing this article touting the benefits and health properties of coconut water, I was excited to talk about it’s natural hydrating properties. I was, however, disappointed to find information to the contrary. I discovered that In years past, misleading information, inaccurate claims, and accusations of false labeling (report published in The New York Times; July 2014) were common among distributors of commercially sold coconut water in the USA. The more I dug, the more I found that commercially sold coconut water may not have been as advertised. “There is a lot of hype about coconut water, yet the research is not there to support many of the claims and therefore, more research is needed to come to a meaningful conclusion,” says Sports nutritionist, Nancy Clark, MS, RD.
Before 2014, a few companies that commercially sold packaged and bottled coconut water made misleading, and outright false claims about their coconut water. The primary deception was the touting of grossly exaggerated electrolyte levels became wide-spread in the industry. The health benefits, which were queried initially by competitors, prompted a number of law suits in 2014 leading to a more level playing field, and eventually, a greater product integrity.
Current marketing rescinds inaccurate health claims, and uses labels with slogans such as “natures hydration”, or “natures beverage” to correct previously misleading advertising. This was the direct result of the 2014 labeling lawsuits.
Coconut water is 97% water and 3% carbohydrate. One 8oz serving has 17% of your daily potassium requirements and 45.6 calories. This is based on FDA dietary recommendations. If you are using coconut water as your sole source to replenish lost electrolytes from training or competing in a strenuous and demanding event, then you would need to increase the quantity to fulfill your body’s requirements.
Don’t get me wrong; I still love coconut water as a delicious natural beverage. It is a natural hydrating beverage, and I would choose it over plain water on any occasion. Enjoy it, and buy it as fresh as you can. Attain it from the fruit itself if possible, or cold pressed which extends the nutrient’s shelf life, if you buy it packaged or bottled,
Some companies bottle coconut water without the additives, and the label will show only coconut water. It is more common to see coconut water with added flavors, sugars, preservatives, and other ingredients that may not be desirable. If you see the word enriched on any label, something unnatural has been added. As always, read the label and know what you are putting into your body. Then as I do, enjoy drinking it cold, better yet, on ice.