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Coconut Water

Yesterday I learned about the many wonders of coconut oil.  Based on what I read, I firmly believe you can put coconut oil on anything and it makes it all better.  Last night before bed I decided to use it for makeup remover, moisturizer, burn cream, and chapstick.  I even went so far as to have a spoonful before bed.  (I like to think of it as research.)  I woke up with super soft skin, had a stellar workout, and then went and invested all of my money into coconuts.  (Not really, but I’m seriously considering it.)  If coconut oil is so amazing, I wonder about coconut water?  I drink coconut water several times a week after a hard workout, mainly because I’ve read that it is does all the good things a sports drink does for you, minus the artificial bad things.  Well let’s see…

What are the nutritional benefits of coconut water?

First, coconut water is the clear liquid inside a young coconut.  You can buy it from most grocery stores (even Wal Mart), and it comes in a variety of flavors depending on the brand.  Some of the more popular brands are Zico, VitaCoco, and Naked. Price and size of the container vary, but expect to spend somewhere around $1.50-$1.75 per 11 ounces.  I just bought one of the 33.8 containers from Trader Joe’s and paid about $4.00.

There are many health claims about coconut water.  On my container of Zico it claims to have more potassium than a banana (10% more to be exact), as well as magnesium, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus.  It also “supports rapid hydration” and is gluten free with no fat, cholesterol, or added sugar.  Based on that alone, I’d say it has quite a bit more going for it than plain water as well as some sports drinks.  In comparing the nutritional information between coconut water and Powerade (for 240 grams), this is what you get:

  • CW has 6% of your DV of calcium while Powerade has 0%
  • CW has 15% of your DV of magnesium while Powerade has 0%
  • CW has 17% of your DV of potassium, compared to the 1% of Powerade
  • CW has 11% of your DV of sodium, compared to the 2% of Powerade
  • CW has 5% of your DV of phosphorus, compared to 0% of Powerade
Source: NutritionData 

I know what you’re thinking… what then is Powerade good for?  Well it has significantly more Vitamin B6 and B12 than coconut water, which is very important for any athlete who is working hard for an extended period of time (4% and 0% compared to 19% and 56%).  But it also contains 14.4 grams of sugars compared to the 6 natural grams of sugar found in coconut water.

I found several studies that compared coconut water, plain water, and sports drinks and their effectiveness in rehydration.  The studies found that coconut water, and in particular sodium-enriched coconut water, were good sources of natural rehydration.  Also, both CW and SCW caused less nausea and stomach upset than plain water or sports drink.  The fluids were more tolerable.  Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned about coconut water is that because of its sterility, it can be injected intravenously into the body as a short term solution to someone suffering from dehydration.  (This is done in many remote regions of the world where resources are scarce.)

I like the fact that coconut water is a natural source of several important minerals for the athlete’s body.  And I actually enjoy the taste, whereas others are not a fan.  However, I also think there are some athletes participating in sporting events where coconut water isn’t going to cut it.  An ultra triathlete will certainly need more calories, sugars, and vitamins than a coconut can offer.  And as with all things in life, it’s all about finding that balance and what works best for you.  I’m just glad to know several more reasons why I should invest into the coconut industry…

Happy Trails, Happy Running, and Happy Friday!


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