Coconut Water – Health or Hype?

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on December 20, 2010 · 0 comments

Coconut water is one of the hottest new beverage trends. People who make and sell it offer up lots of health claims, saying it can prevent cancer, slow aging and cure hangovers. It is supposed to stop wrinkles, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and break up kidney stones. But is coconut water all it’s cracked up to be?

Coconut water is nothing more than the clear liquid from young coconuts. As simple as it is, sales are booming. Vita Coco, a major coconut-water company, had sales of $20 million in 2009.

Like all plant-based foods, coconut water contains phytochemicals, minerals and vitamins. Whether it’s a cure-all is questionable. No major studies have linked coconut water to cancer prevention. The selenium in coconut water is known to fight cancer, but do you get enough in a drink or two a day to be beneficial? We don’t know. Some animal studies suggest that coconut water can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. But the results are preliminary and may not translate to humans.

So why drink it? Studies do show that coconut water can rehydrate the body after exercise, because it contains minerals lost in sweat. It works as effectively as a sports drink and it may have less sugar and calories.

As for curing hangovers and preventing wrinkles – there’s no hard evidence to back this up, sorry!

And, keep in mind coconut water is not the same as coconut milk or coconut cream. Both are thicker, white liquids made by adding water to pureed coconut meat.

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