Coconut carts are common sights on the streets of Cuenca, Ecuador. After an afternoon of walking I decided to quench my thirst and try a glass of the clear liquid (not to be confused with coconut milk made from coconut meat). Poured right out of a slightly immature coconut, sliced open with a handy machete the nectar had a subtly sweet taste with a slight hint of salt. And for .50 cents it adequately satiated my thirst and boosted my blood sugar for the short walk back to my guesthouse.
Each nut contains about 200-1000ml of water and along with sugars, electrolytes and minerals to replenish dehydration in the body. Coconut water has been used with patients suffering with diarrhea in many tropic regions to reduce the need for IV therapy. Coconut water contains naturally occurring bioactive enzymes that aid in digestion and metabolism and is a source of B-complex vitamins. The water contains a good amount of potassium and some sodium and has been used by athletes post workout.
So is coconut water the trending elixir and touted as another of Mother Earth’s “natural waters” for a more healthful life worth the price or the hype?
In a recent article published in Time magazine 4 out of 5 nutritional experts said a resounding NO. Ranging in price between $1.99-2.99 for approximately a 10 oz. container, Nancy Clark, registered dietician and sport nutrition counselor and guru says, “I’d rather spend my money on natural food, and not an over-hyped fluid.” Yes it is a good source of potassium, but so are bananas, raisins, and potatoes. “
Coconut water has been famous for nutritional posturing,” states Todd Cooperman, MD and president of the independent tester of health products Consumer Lab.com. He found that most of the products tested failed to meet their mineral claims – specifically of the heralded electrolytes, magnesium and sodium. However, Kristin Kirkpatrick, registered dietician and manager of the nutrition services a Cleveland Clinics Wellness Institute defenses the liquid stating “it’s a much better choice than a sports dink loaded with excess sugar if you are looking for a break from regular water and you can use some potassium.
My recommendation: at .50 – $1.00 a glass on the street corner of Ecuador, poured straight from the coconut, it was a unique and refreshing beverage. At $2.59/container from your local natural foods outlet – I might just grab a banana, a handful or raisins, and my trusty water bottle after my workout.