In case you’ve been living in a cave without coconut water for the past several years, let’s start with the basics.
Coconut water has been a rising star of liquids for a while now. Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is the clear-ish, mildly nut-flavored liquid that’s extracted from young green coconuts. Coconut milk, by contrast, is a mixture of coconut flesh and coconut water, and there aren’t many instances when you would want to drink it like a juice (it’s used primarily for cooking, popular in Thai food and veganism).
The big claim to nutritional fame of the coconut water is the potassium punch that it packs, which is pretty sizable. According to an entire study dedicated to the composition, 11 fluid ounces contain around 640 mg of potassium. 11 fluid ounces is about what you find in one of those juice-box style coconut water drinks. A banana has around 400 mg of potassium, depending on whom you ask.
Loads of potassium is great because every single cell in your body needs it. In its ionized form, it’s what keeps blood pressure, nerve- and muscle function on point. Lots is good. Recommended potassium intake a day is 3500 mg.
The good news is that plants love potassium. There’s plenty of it in most fruits and vegetables, so most of us have no trouble hitting that number every day.
There are lots of health claims going around, probably in large part due to coconut water marketing, but beware of food fads and hypes. Coconut water is not going to cure cancer, or prevent heart disease, at least not any more than eating lots of fruits and vegetables will. If you like the taste, and you’re looking for a low calorie juice, coconut water is a good alternative, seeing as the 11 ounce liquid has ~ 60 calories, which is about 100 calories less than the same amount of apple juice, and less sugar as well. As juices go, coconut water does well. As health drink, a dose of skepticism is required.
It’s February – which means that North Carolina summer is right around the corner. The key to staying healthy and happy is lots of water and lots of fruits and vegetables. And if you want coconut water to be the potassium cherry on that sundae, that’s good too.