The coconut water hype. Yogi essential or overblown fad?
The country is experiencing a specialty beverage bonanza, with customers snapping up “functional” drinks and enhanced waters that promise to deliver better health and well-being. Coconut water has been touted as the “natural” alternative to such drinks, which are often filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners. As more and more yoga teachers are heard ending class with directives to “go home and drink your coconut water,” legions of devotees are happily shelling out up to $3 for an 11 ounce serving of the water, which is available everywhere from corner bodegas to mainstream supermarkets, yoga studios to gyms. Hollywood’s in on it, too: Spokespeople for and investors in the most popular brands—Vita Coco, O.N.E., and Zico—include Demi Moore, Matthew McConaughey, and pop singer Rhianna, as well as professional athletes like baseball player Alex Rodriguez and Celtics player Kevin Garnett. But is coconut water really better for you than regular water?
An 11-ounce container of coconut water (approximately the amount of water contained in the center of a single coconut, and not to be confused with coconut milk, which is derived from the meat of the fruit) is said to have 15 times more electrolytes—namely, sodium, potassium, and magnesium—than the average sports drink, with only about 60 calories per serving and no added sugar or fat. Electrolytes, which are lost through excessive sweating, allow cells to generate energy and move fluids throughout the body and are thus essential to muscle and nerve function. That’s why electrolytes are supplemented to sports drinks like Gatorade.