Coconut water. I’m a fan.
Let’s start things off with a few Fit Facts on Coconut Water:
It’s good for your heart. Coconut water’s biggest claim to fame is that it’s rich in potassium, and because potassium’s key for regulating blood pressure, coconut water in turn could help prevent issues like stroke, heart attack and even hangovers.
It’s good for your digestive system. Coconut water is unique in that it contains a rich and well-balanced blend of amino acids, enzymes, electrolytes, sugar and fatty acids. And this well-balanced fluid composition makes for an ideal treatment of dehydration caused by gastrointestinal disturbances like diarrhea. In fact, in many regions of the world, coconut water is used to treat patients with gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, and in some cases, coconut water can be so effective at replacing fluid loss that the need for intravenous (IV) therapy is greatly reduced or eliminated.
It’s good for anti-aging. Coconut water contains a compound called cytokinin, and research suggests that these compounds (which are also found in other foods), can have significant anti-aging and anti-cancer effects.
It’s good for rehydration. Once again, because of its unique fluid composition, coconut water is excellent for rehydration, and more specifically for replacing fluids lost during intense exercise. In fact, a 2012 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that coconut water, when compared to sports drinks, was equally as effective in hydrating participants after an intense workout. Also, from a professional standpoint, when it comes to rehydration after intense exercise, I am a strong advocate of coconut water over most (sugar-filled) sports drinks, because coconut water has a low glycemic index (GI 35), and thus won’t dramatically spike blood sugar levels and promote body-fat storage.
For great advice on exercise, nutrition, weight loss, and how to achieve your fitness goals, check out my book And That’s Why You’re Fat: Health & Fitness Mistakes to Stop Making (Vol. 1).
Alright. So now that we’ve sufficiently laid out the health benefits of coconut water, let’s get to my 4 fave brands!
1. Amy & Brian’s All Natural Coconut Juice with Pulp
The Amy & Brian’s brand calls its coconut water “coconut juice” on the can. Amy & Brian’s is available with or without pulp, and I enjoy the taste of both. Also, while researching this brand of coconut water, I consistently came across positive reviews praising how “natural” and “light” this coconut water tasted.
Ingredients: Young coconut juice, young coconut pulp
Nutritional info per 8.75 fl. oz. serving: 70 calories | 85mg sodium | 470 mg potassium | 16g carbohydrate | less than 1 g fiber| 15 g sugar
2. Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water
Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water is raw, unpasteurized, and USDA-certified organic. Their coconut water is very authentic tasting with full-on coconut flavor.
Ingredients: 100% raw coconut water
Nutritional info per 8 fl. oz. serving: 56 calories | 4 mg sodium | 514mg potassium | 14g carbohydrates | 1 g fiber | 12 g sugar
3. Vita Coco Coconut Water
If you’ve checked out coconut water on store shelves, you’ve definitely come across this very popular brand. I like the taste, and in countless food reviews Vita Coco typically gets high marks. Vita Coco is flash pasteurized, is Star K-certified kosher, and as a nice nutritional boost, Vita Coco also adds in a bit of Vitamin C to their coconut water.
Ingredients: Coconut water, vitamin c
Nutritional info per 8.5 fl. oz. serving: 45 calories | 30 mg sodium | 515 mg potassium | 11 g carbohydrates | 11 g sugar
4. Blue Monkey Pure Coconut Water
As a bonus, Blue Monkey also makes a crystallized, de-hydrated coconut powder, which was made for active people on the go. All you have to do is add the packet to a bottle of water and you’re good to go!
Ingredients: 100% coconut water
Nutritional info per 8 fl. oz. serving: 76 calories | 40 mg sodium | 290 mg potassium | 19 g carbohydrates | 10g sugar
The Doc’s Closing Thoughts on Coconut Water
Mind you, the brands of coconut water I listed above were in no particular order. And since writing this post I’ve come across a few other brands of coconut water that I look forward to taste-testing and critiquing. As far as the four I’ve listed as my faves, I like them all for taste, and most especially I like them all because of their nutritional profile. I always read food labels and one key thing I watch out for in any food is sugar content. And if I see a particular brand of coconut water with added sugar in the ingredients (and yes, I have come across a few that do), I won’t buy it. Because while coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes and does indeed offer many health benefits, one should also keep in mind that coconut water is relatively high in sugar – pure natural sugar. So why would you want to add more sugar to a food that’s already high in sugar?! It makes no sense and doing so is a big thumbs-down from just a nutritional standpoint.
That being said, I do consider coconut water a “fit food,” as well as a “luxury.” What do I mean by that? Well let’s discuss the “fit food” part first.
As far as being a “fit food,” coconut water is a natural beverage, is nutritious, and has solid health benefits. That’s why it gets my “fit food” seal of approval.
Now let’s talk about why I consider it a “luxury.” And this is coming from a strictly fitness/exercise standpoint:
While coconut water is excellent for rehydration, it’s important to note that this is in cases of “intense” exercise where a great deal of fluid and electrolytes are lost from body. In most cases, the average person doesn’t exercise to the point where they “need” coconut water or even sports drinks to re-up. Plain water would be just fine. But hey, as I’ve said before, I’m a physician and a foodie. I drink coconut water, and if you like coconut water, have at it! There’s nothing wrong with including it your diet, even if you don’t always consume it after intense exercise. Bottom line: Just be sensible about how much you drink and remember to account for the sugar and calories it provides.
Do you drink coconut water? What are your favorite brands? ̶ Doc