In the last decade coconut water has left the palm-treed shores of tropical islands where tourists on lounge chairs stick straws straight into the fruit, and exploded onto supermarket shelves — helped along by beverage giants such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.
Marketed as a natural health drink, brands spout various health claims promoting coconut water. So before we drank the Kool-Aid, we thought we’d check in with the experts whether the nutritional claims stack up. Is coconut water part of a healthy diet or we should just stick to good old water from the tap?
Four out of five experts said coconut water is not good for you
Here are their detailed responses to the question: is coconut water good for you?
Alessandro R Demaio — Medical Doctor
Stick to plain water. Coconut water is the “juice” of the coconut, not to be confused with its higher-fat cousin coconut milk. While it does contain some natural electrolytes — including potassium, sodium and manganese — there is no compelling evidence it is better for rehydration than normal water. While coconut water is lower in sugar than other juices and probably fine as a treat from time to time, it still contains unnecessary liquid sugar and calories so I would recommend sticking with plain water for both rehydration and everyday drinking.
Clare Collins — Nutritionist
Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside young green coconuts. Nutritionally, coconut water does contain some nutrients, including the B vitamins Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), pantothenic acid, folic acid, biotin as well as trace amounts of thiamin (B1), Vitamin C, potassium and sodium. It also contains some simple carbohydrates (sugars) and amino acids.
The energy content varies from 80 kilojoules (kJs) to 150 kJs per 100ml compared to zero for water. Some products on supermarket shelves are pure coconut water but many contain a mixture of coconut water with other ingredients added. These include coconut cream, sugar, other fruit juices, vitamin C, and added flavours which add to its kilojoule content.
Coconut water has been promoted as a sports drink but a 2017 study in ten males who completed a 60 minute cycling exercise followed by a 10-km time trial on two occasions found drinking coconut water did not improve their markers of hydration or their exercise performance compared with drinking plain water. With a price tag in the range of A$3-A$9 a litre, the hype does not match the research evidence. So unless you prefer the taste and have time to exercise to burn up the extra kilojoules coconut water provides, especially the flavoured varieties, I suggest you stick with tap water.
Emma Beckett — Food scientist
I’m going to say no, because coconut water is overhyped. But, remember it’s not individual foods that are good or bad for us, it’s our overall diets that matter. Coconut water is advertised as low sugar. Which…