If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know that I am a big fan of virgin coconut oil. I use it in everything, from my homemade body butter, to face cream, to homemade soap, and even use it for oil pulling.
But coconuts aren't all just about the oil you can extract from it — coconut water is pretty great too. This post goes over the health benefits of coconut oil as well as the stuff that might simply be hype.
First of all, what's the difference between coconut water and coconut milk?
Coconut milk is the liquid that is extracted from the white grated meat of a coconut. This liquid needs to be extracted through a process, and is milkier and richer in color and taste. Coconut water, on the other hand, is the liquid that can be drawn directly from the cavity in the middle of the coconut — that part that is surrounded by the meat and shell.
Coconut water is generally clear and tastes sweet. If it tastes sour then it's possible the coconut has gone bad.
The coconut water is clear, colorless and contains sugar, fiber, proteins, antioxidants, vitamins & minerals – and provides an isotonic electrolyte balance making it a nutritious food source.
What's so great about coconut water?
Coconut water is a great source of hydration because it is low in calories, cholesterol-free, and contains loads of potassium. It also contains a lot of electrolytes (BRAWNDO! It's got electrolytes! Anyone get the reference?), so much that some athletes swear by coconut water, saying that it helps keep them hydrated more than marketed sports drinks that contains artificial flavors and chemicals. Others claim that coconut water helps flush toxins from their bodies and cures all sorts of ills, from kidney stones to hangovers, even cancer.
So can I drink it in place of a sports drink?
It's true, coconut water has fewer calories, less sodium and sugar than your average fruit juice, all the while containing more potassium and the electrolytes athletes need to replenish after a workout. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that those who go through rigorous exercise can simply rely on coconut water. In order to sufficiently replenish the nutrients you lose through exercise, eating bananas or other healthy foods will do more to keep your body going than guzzling coconut water will.
It's also important to make sure your body is sufficiently replenished before you work out, not just after exercise.
Also, just because coconut water is natural and better for you than other fruit juices or sports drinks, doesn't mean you should drink it all day. Eventually, all that natural sugar and the calories will add up and accumulate in your body.
Is all this good stuff about coconut water true?
So far, there isn't any actual science to back up the claim that drinking coconut water is as amazing as people make it out to be, especially claims that it helps cure disease. It might be just as good, or not even as good, as the average sports drink you can buy in a store. In fact, most people probably don't exercise enough for this much thought to be put into what they should be drinking to rehydrate, and could probably do just fine drinking water.
But if you enjoy the taste of coconut water and feel that it's easier for you to stay hydrated drinking it, by all means, go for it.