Coconut water is well, watery, and high in the electrolyte potassium. Recently, some marketing genius realized that it was basically a natural “sports drink.” But is it really better?
Mother Jones looked into the issue and found that, while coconut water isn’t exactly the same as a sports drink, it’s pretty good for a mild to moderate workout.
But according to Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at UC-Davis, coconut water isn’t ideal for prolonged bouts of physical activity. That’s because of its particular blend of electrolytes. Unlike sports drinks, which generally contain a lot of sodium and a little potassium, coconut water is the opposite: heavy on potassium, light on sodium. “Even though the belief is that when you exercise you need a lot of potassium, sodium is more important,” says Applegate. “When you sweat, you lose a lot more sodium than potassium.” (Zico’s new Natural Bottle product has a little more sodium, but unlike most coconut waters, it’s made from concentrate.) Applegate says she has never seen any convincing scientific evidence to support anti-aging and kidney health claims. Still, she doesn’t dismiss coconut water entirely. “If you like the taste, great,” she says. “If you’re doing a short workout, great.”
Mother Jones also says that coconut water isn’t horrible for the environment, because coconut trees require little fertilizer or pesticides and prevent soil erosion.
Just don’t confuse it with coconut milk, which is made from the white part of the coconut. Coconut water is a clear liquid found inside young coconuts.
Is Coconut Water Really Better Than Sports Drinks? [MotherJones]