Cuckoo for coconuts?

Written by amy on March 6th, 2012

     Coconut water, the clear juice found inside young coconuts, is one of the latest American health crazes. Should everyone be drinking it?

Coconut water does not contain any fat or cholesterol and is low in calorie – all three of which land coconut water smack dab in three big nutrition trends right now.  This explains some of the hype around coconut water. Coconut water does contain water, a little carbohydrate, a little sodium, and a lot of potassium. It is largely this high potassium content that is responsible for the rest of the hype.

Research shows that adequate potassium in the diet is essential for health.  However, potassium is also found in fruits and vegetables, which most people aren’t getting enough of.  Relying solely on coconut water as a source of potassium is not recommended because it will not provide the additional nutrients that can be obtained through fruits and vegetables.

Is this potassium content a huge benefit after exercise, as claimed by coconut water manufacturers? First, most people don’t exercise heavily enough to need an electrolyte replacement drink and would be fine with plain
water.  For those exercising strenuously, electrolytes are lost through sweat and replacing these would be beneficial.  However, the ratio of sodium to potassium in coconut water is not ideal for replenishing stores.  Coconut water has a lot of potassium and a little sodium and this is the opposite of what is needed after a hard workout.

On a side note, coconut oil, long recommended against due to its saturated fat content, may not be unhealthy as originally believed. The latest evidence shows that in the short-term, virgin coconut oil doesn’t have
the same harmful effects on cholesterol levels as other saturated fats.  It doesn’t seem to improve cholesterol levels as well as other plant oils, such as olive and canola oils, but it is no longer thought necessary to avoid coconut oil altogether.

Bottom line: Coconut water is not a miracle cure (because there isn’t one) nor should it be used as a water replacement; however, if the 3+ bucks a pop price tag doesn’t faze you, coconut water may be a refreshing
and nutritious beverage choice for you. If you are a heavy sweater and want to replenish your electrolytes after a heavy workout, grab a handful of pretzels and a bottle of water.  Stay tuned for
more research about coconut oil.  As always, moderation and mindful eating are always successful strategies for a healthy diet.



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