Is coconut water a miracle drink or just another health fad?
There have been many claims promoting coconut water as ‘Mother Nature’s sports drink. Do these sweeping claims have a backbone, or is it just another health fad?
For thousands of years, fresh coconut water has long been a favourite drink in South-East Asia. However, recent public endorsements and media hype have seen coconut water being packaged and being elevated to superfood status. Coconut water is the clear liquid that is found inside the young coconuts. Coconut milk is the grated flesh of a coconut.
Coconut Water Better than a Sports Drink?
Coconut water has been marketed as a healthy alternative to sports drinks and other bottled beverages. However, to date there is little evidence to support these claims. "It's been marketed and promoted as a source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, but it only contains small amounts of these and other nutrients." Says accredited practising dietitian Tania Ferraretto.
What is recommended as an alternative to coconut water? Plain water, from the tap. "It's the best drink to hydrate the body and it's free, unlike coconut water, which can cost up to $4 a bottle." Says Ferrretto.
When you sweat, you will lose essential minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. Research has found that coconut water does contain some of these minerals, mostly potassium. However, it only contains minuscule amounts so if you are looking to replace these minerals via coconut water, you would have to drink an abundant amount of coconut water to reach the appropriate levels.
When it comes to sodium, coconut water contains very low levels of sodium. Therefore, if coconut water is going to be used as a sports drink, your sodium levels will not be rehydrated.
It’s worth noting that many commercial brands of coconut water that are found in your local supermarket can contain high amounts of sugar.