coconut water

Coconut water

In Britain you used to be forgiven for not knowing exactly what coconut water has to offer in terms of health benefits but now the drink that was reserved solely for a holiday beverage in tropical areas of the world is now readily available here in the UK.

Coconut water is the liquid found in the cavity of young green coconuts, before it forms the flesh known as coconut meat. If you have seen Tom Hanks in Cast Away you will probably remember him trying desperately hard to access the coconut water in the falling coconuts that surrounded him. Thankfully it is a lot easier to get hold of now and is sold in most of our major supermarkets.

There are plenty of beverages available in supermarkets and new ones appearing every single day. Not all of them have such an extraordinary surge in popularity that sees them making a real dent in the health and fitness industry like coconut water though. This dent has been so significant that coconut water now has the reputation of being a more ‘natural’ alternative to the traditional sports drink.

It is clear to see why the comparison has been made. Firstly, coconut water is comparatively lower in fat, carbohydrates and calories, while still providing a number of the electrolytes that major sports drinks do, including sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Saying that, while all these elements may be present in coconut water, none of them are present in particularly high values. In fact, for every 100ml of coconut water that you consume, you won’t even get 10{e247ef2f99dfc0bc75e074b1ac933c200478cf8913d2da2bbe9d5daddf1eb195} of any of those electrolytes.

The concerns relating to the claimed health benefits of coconut water has led to a certain amount of concern from a number of regulation agencies, including the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, or FDA, who have been known to dispute the claims of a number of major retailers of coconut water in the U.S..

So are we just looking at another example of clever marketing by large corporations that creates the bandwagon that so many of us seem happy enough to jump aboard? Well no, not exactly. It is like I said, coconut water is comparatively lower in fat, carbohydrates and calories than sports drinks. Not to mention the fact that being a replacement to the traditional sports drink is not the sole function of coconut water.

All sorts of plant-based milks, waters and oils are appearing on our shelves more and more. Opting for coconut water over its milk equivalent will provide a drink with far less fat for example. Then there is the thing that people seem to forget about – the flavour! Okay, we want beverages that are suitable and meet our dietary needs but ultimately we want them to taste good too. And trust me, there are plenty of drinks out there that taste a lot worse than coconut water and provide significantly less health benefits.

This is another situation where it is all about reading the label. Each company’s version of coconut water will be different, with some adding certain flavours, vitamins or even sugar.

So maybe we haven’t found the a realistic alternative to the water that we get out of the tap, or the juice that we find in our sports drinks. But what we do have is a flavoursome low fat drink that contains a number of the nutrients that we need to function healthily. Coconut water might not be the greatest ally when we are training but is most certainly not an enemy.

Ollie Lawrence
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