There are many health claim benefits that the coconut water producing companies are touting. Among the claims are: it will boost circulation, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, raise the metabolism, treat kidney stones, reduce the risk of cancer and stroke, has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties, helps to carry nutrients and oxygen to cells, removes toxins from the body, aids with digestion and prevents constipation.
Coconut water is the juice found in young, green coconuts. It has a sweet nutty taste. Coconut water has long been the standard drink of countries where coconut trees are abundant such as Southeast Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands and the Caribbean. Natives usually just bore a hole in a fresh nut and drink it with a straw because once the water is exposed to air it will rapidly lose most of its nutritional value and will begin to ferment. Coconut water is naturally sterile, isotonic and has the same level of electrolytes as found in human blood. It was used during WWII as a plasma replacement for wounded soldiers.
Coconut water should not be confused with coconut milk which is the high-fat emulsion of mature coconut meat. Coconut water is about 95% water and is fat-free, cholesterol-free and full of the electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Coconut water naturally contains about 11 or 12 grams of sugar, which adds up to about 50 or 60 calories per serving.
Coconut water companies main claim is that coconut water is the best drink to re-hydrate the body after exercising. Nutritional experts state that coconut water can be a good drink for hydration after normal exercising but warn that it may not be the best drink after vigorous and strenuous exercising due to the high loss of sodium in sweat. The replacement of sodium after water loss is much more important than potassium. Coconut water contains about 569 mg of potassium and 160 mg of sodium compared to Gatorade, which is formulated for athletes and contains around 52.5 mg of potassium and 192 mg of sodium. Plus coconut water contains very little protein and carbohydrates, which are essential for rapid recovery from dehydration.
Coconut water costs on average about 62 cents an ounce whereas Gatorade costs on average at retail around 24 cents per ounce. So, the choice is yours, coconut water as an expensive re-hydrating drink or as an occasional refreshing drink that may be beneficial to your health.
As a side note, many people order young green coconuts that come from Thailand to drink the fresh coconut water straight from the nut. Be aware that young Thai Coconuts must undergo intensive chemical treatment to assure a long shelf life. The coconuts may be dipped in formaldehyde to help prevent molding and to keep the meat white. The formaldehyde will leech into the fruit and water. If ordering fresh young green Thai coconuts, or any other fresh young green coconuts that come from overseas markets for that matter, do your research on the company and inquire if the coconuts have been treated before buying and consuming.