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Again, Why Am I Drinking Coconut Water?

Again, Why Am I Drinking Coconut Water?

Coconut water saved my life. OK, admittedly that is a bit of hyperbole, but at the time, it felt like a lifesaver. I was a teenager and traveling alone in the southern part of Thailand and I hadn’t been eating or drinking as well, or safely, as I should have been. My system was severely out of balance and I was unable to really keep anything down, or in me for more than a few minutes, and I was slowly wasting away in the heat and humidity. I went to a pharmacy in a small Thai town, the kind that sold DDT as bug repellent, and looked over my options, which all seemed to be of the nuclear variety. The man working behind the counter, sensing my distress, suggesting I forgo the meds and just eat white rice and drink nothing but fresh coconut water for the next three days (he said it was a “Thai” cure for what I had). Considering white rice and fresh coconuts were plentiful and cheap, I went for it and within three or four days, I was back to eating fish curry and drinking beer. All bow down to the power of coconut water (and white rice)!

Since that experience two decades ago, coconut water has blown up, and is not just for those suffering from a bad stomach. The coconut water craze has yielded nearly $110 million in domestic sales this year, and that is up 100 percent from last year. The vast majority of these sales are from packaged coconut water, sold in those hydrofoil boxes that retail for about $2 to $3 a pop and are being touted as healthy, nutritious, and the ideal “sports drink.” While most people will tell you that coconut water is a huge improvement upon drinking soda, energy drinks, or the various colored liquids being passed off as “sports drinks,” is coconut water really that much better for you then, say…water? Many say yes, but many in the field of nutrition say “no.”

Sure, coconut water contains two minerals that help balance fluids in the body, sodium and potassium, neither of which are naturally occurring in water. And the body, when hot and active, often loses hydration as well as sodium and potassium. However, unless you are engaged in a super intense workout, like working toward a marathon, you are probably not losing enough sodium and potassium for concern. Most nutritionists, like Monical Reeinegal insist that water is sufficient for hydration, and even advises against relying on coconut water. As she told the Huffington Post, “If you’re a marathoner, if you’re doing Bikram yoga–and if this is really about sweat replacement, relying on coconut water to replenish your lost sodium is not a good idea.”

While I am certain some people drink coconut milk after such intense workouts, I am sure many just enjoy it for the flavor and appeal of this relatively low-sugar, low-calorie drink – I know I do. But don’t kid yourself; you likely don’t need coconut water as much as you may think.

Do you drink coconut water? If so, has it changed your life, your workout, or your health? Do you think it is much ado about nothing, or something you can’t live without?

Related:
Cholesterol-Lowering Coconuts
7 Weird Energizing Foods Runners Swear By
3 Simple, Nourishing Drinks

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Drinks, Eating for Health, Fitness, Following Food, Food, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

108 comments

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7:49PM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

7:50AM PST on Feb 7, 2013

No, thank you. I agree with Heidi...I simply abhor the taste.

6:48PM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Thanks

3:03PM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

I buy young, green coconut whenever I see it in a store. I read that in India coconut water is given to babies whose mothers died at birth because it's the closest to mothers milk. I love the taste, and would buy it every week if it would be available.

12:16PM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Love coconut water!

12:16PM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Love coconut water!

5:46AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

No, thanks. I'm allergic.

5:23AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

thanks

1:32AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Delicious? Are you kidding? For folks who have not tried it, it tastes NOTHING like coconut milk or coconut oil or coconut anything. It tastes more like "dirty sock water" Definitely a strong alkaline taste and this is the good stuff ....Zico. I will say, it is superior to Gatorade as far as replacing electrolytes. It is perfectly balanced with lots of potassium and some sodium. For this reason it is worthwhile, but definitely not for the taste.

1:13AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Thanks for the article!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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