Coconut water seems to be taking over the shelves of every supermarket, drugstore and bodega these days. This beverage has rapidly shot to health drink fame, claiming to be a superior source of hydration. But does this “life enhancing” drink live up to the hype (and the hefty price tag)? We break it down for you here.

What is coconut water, exactly?

Coconut water is the liquid that is found inside young coconuts before they mature, at which point the water solidifies to form the flesh of the coconut. Native to the tropics, coconut water can be drunk directly from freshly harvested fruit. The commercial coconut water that you find in the U.S., often sold in bottles and tetra packs, is pasteurized and may have added pulp.

What’s in it?

Nutrient content varies slightly from brand to brand, but coconut water is naturally low in calories and fat-free. A serving has about the same amount of potassium as a banana and it is low in sodium. It also has a small amount of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Brands that add ascorbic acid as a preservative provide a good source of vitamin C. Fruit-flavored coconut water is also available and these varieties have slightly more calories and sugar due to the added fruit.

Are there any health benefits?

The high potassium and low sodium content of coconut water has a nutrient profile shown to help lower high blood pressure. However, this drink alone isn’t going to do the trick. Broader diet and lifestyle changes are needed to curb hypertension. And getting your nutrients from whole foods is usually a better idea anyway, to make sure you get all their health-boosting fiber and antioxidants.

Is Coconut Water Better Than Sports Drinks After Exercising?

Some brands of coconut water are marketed as “sports drinks,” claiming to be a low-cal way to replace the electrolytes lost in sweat. While potassium and sodium do need to be replaced after heavy exercise, those of us who go to the gym for an hour or so won’t lose enough to require a special drink – regular tap water works just fine to rehydrate. And, some sports nutritionists say the sodium in coconut water isn’t enough for serious athletes.

Bottom Line, Drink Up

Coconut water can certainly be part of a healthy diet, and if you like the taste, then drink up. After all, it’s certainly better for you than sugary sodas. But for my money, I’ll stick with the water I’m lucky enough to have piped directly into my home.

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  6. jessywat says:

    ‘It is really nice to have a glass of coconut water than any other drink’ used to be the words of my grandmother and got to know the benefits of it from the blog that you shared.
    Appreciate your work and keep sharing your information.
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  7. […] It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted and the reason is simple.  Summer has finally hit Vermont and in between vacationing, downhill mountain bike riding, and continuing  zone to zone workout classes and personal training sessions, I’ve just been having a blast.  As I was cross country mountain biking last night with my best new dirt diva gal pal, we were talking about coconut water.  Not sure what it’s all about?  Here’s a helpful article that explains the health benefits and what to look out for: http://fyiliving.com/diet/coconut-water-craze-are-the-health-benefits-worth-the-cost/ […]

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  9. Russell84 says:

    Great information, Its very useful. I love coconut water and can not get enough of it. I am trying to find out as much as I can about the benefits thanks for your information. My favourite coconut water is Cocofina take a look for your self. http://www.cocofina.com it is amazing stuff it doesnt have the same bland taste that many coconut waters have. but it still have the same benefits as it is 100%coconut water. So in my eyes yes the benefits are worth the cost as it tastes amazing.

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  11. robert.bowmer1 says:

    Has any one tried ZICO coconut water? Is it any good?

  12. Neelam says:

    In India its very easy to get fresh coconut water on every corner and its very cheap 15 Bucks. compare to its health benefit the price is very low. I guess this is the only natural thing available today all other things are contaminated including drinking water. Some experts says it also helps to detoxify the body of toxins as said in http://www.bodydetoxadvisor.com  I suggest to have it daily in summer season and its good for hair.

About Sarah Atwood, MS, RD

Sarah is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University where she completed her dietetic internship in partnership with NYU Langone Medical Center, the NYU Pediatric Dental Clinic, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Her interests include pediatric and maternal nutrition, food policy, and sustainable food production. She is an enthusiastic cook and foodie who taught nutrition and cooking lessons with City Harvest’s Operation Frontline while in NYC. When she’s not chasing her newly mobile baby girl, Sarah enjoys exploring her new Boston neighborhood, discovering restaurants, and enjoying the occasional craft brew.

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