Lately I have received several questions about coconut water. My standard answer is usually “don’t bother – drink water.” Water is free, with 0 calories. What could be better?
Lately I have read several articles about coconut water, so here is the info:
• Coconut water is the mildly sweet, nutty-flavored clear liquid found in young, green coconuts. It contains approximately 40 calories per cup, (8oz) which is less than half the calories in the same amount of fruit juice or soda. It is low in fat, cholesterol-free and high in potassium.
• Coconut water is different than coconut milk, which is high in fat and high in calories and looks like regular milk.
Marketers call coconut water “Mother Nature’s sports drink.” Other claims include that because coconut water is high in potassium, it regulates blood pressure, therefore helping to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Others say coconut water has anti-aging properties and can help fight cancer and kidney stones.
Yes, potassium is important for heart health, but it is found in many other foods, including bananas, potatoes, beans, lentils, spinach and yogurt. And simply drinking coconut water won’t magically prevent a stroke. Many of the other benefits are little more than unproven claims.
Yes, unsweetened coconut water is a more natural way to replenish electrolytes than other sports drinks because it does not contain added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or dyes. It is also high in potassium and magnesium, but low in sodium. A sports drink is only needed when exercising intensely for longer than an hour, and if you are working that hard, you need to replace sodium.
Compared to Gatorade (one of the most popular sports drinks on the market), an 8-ounce carton of unsweetened coconut water has about 40 calories and 9 grams of naturally occurring sugar, while 8 ounces of Gatorade contains approximately 50 calories and 14 grams of sugar. The Gatorade sugars are sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.
If you eat a nutrient-rich diet, it’s fairly easy to get enough potassium from the food you eat. However, due to the eating habits of many in this country, many Americans do not get enough potassium, so coconut water can boost your intake a bit. As for sodium, most people don’t work out long or hard enough to need a drink to replace sodium, but if you do, coconut water is fairly low in sodium.
In my opinion, save your money and save your calories – drink water! If you do think you need a sports drink after your workout, below is an inexpensive, no calorie recipe you can make yourself and keep in your fridge.
This recipe is courtesy of www.wellnessmama.com.
By: Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.