Coconut Water:
Hype Or Healthy?

With its cultish celebrity following, coconut water has become the new go-to for thirsty health nuts. Celebs such as Rihanna, Madonna, Courteney Cox, and Mischa Barton are public supporters of the drink, but new research indicates coconut water may not be the health elixir it and its followers claim it to be.

Coconut WaterWhy coconut water?

Makers of coconut water claim their product is a healthy alternative to sports drinks because it not only hydrates, but also helps replenish electrolytes like potassium, sodium and magnesium.

According to WebMD, coconut water has been used as a way to rehydrate after exercise or illness, used as an emergency substitute for IV solutions, and may be a good storage solution for a tooth that has been knocked out until someone can see a dentist. Some substances in coconut water could theoretically have antioxidant benefits in the body. But before you race out and stock up, consider that though coconut drink has a strong A-list backing, it also lacks scientific support.

Scientific evidence is limited

Despite the health claims of coconut water followers, the scientific evidence is limited. WebMd says there are a couple of small studies that suggest coconut water may reduce the risk of heart attack and may significantly lower blood pressure, but that the celebrity-extolled drink has not been well-studied as a treatment and that there is no documented evidence to clearly prove the health benefits of coconut water.

New report finds false labeling

More drink for thought: ConsumerLab.com recently tested the Zico, Vita Coco, and O.N.E. brands of coconut water and found that the only product that actually contained what the label listed was Zico. According to CNN.com, "the sugar and potassium content in the other two brands, Vita Coco and O.N.E., also matched the label. But the amounts of sodium and magnesium -- two nutrients key to hydration -- were as much as 82% and 35% lower, respectively, than the listed amount."

Don't be deceived

If you are a hardcore fitness fanatic who works out long and hard, coconut water isn't going to replenish your electrolytes like a sports recovery drink specially formulated for athletes. However, if you like the way coconut water tastes and you want a little something extra after a modest workout, it won't hurt. Just beware that you may be just as well off drinking plain water. Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, told CNN: "When something like this becomes wildly popular, people have a tendency to look at the claims rather than reality."

More on coconuts

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Comments

Comments on "Is coconut water good for you?"

JP October 05, 2013 | 8:50 PM

I am not from the Islands, any Islands for that matter. However, I was raised where coconuts were in abundance and coconut water was readily available. I drank it then and I drink it today and I am in my seventies. Coconut water was good then and it is good now. Better than Gatorade or the Vitamin water that is being sold in the market places all across the country. Coconut water has been used for thousands of years. The poor dietician is completely lost in her analysis. In other words, she does not know what she is talking about.

Teri July 27, 2013 | 7:06 AM

I have a dry mouth, and eyes. I read that coconut water is said to be very hydrating. I tried it (Goya) and just don't like it. I tried it with and without the pulp, no bueno. I do like coconut. Any suggestions?

Debi October 12, 2012 | 7:08 PM

Coconut water is the next best thing to water. the end.

CHRIS September 28, 2012 | 3:23 PM

the don't be deceived section makes me think that this was published by someone being supported by the athletic drink industry. it's not all hype. coconut water has helped my cholesterol problem

catwoman April 22, 2012 | 12:57 PM

I made a green smoothie this morning, of spinach, kale, 2 pears and coconut water ice cubes (about 8). I have to say it was the best smoothie I have ever made so far. Cocunut water is relatively low in calories and helps me eat an enormous serving of greens.

hoosierrun March 14, 2012 | 8:17 AM

I am an ultra marathon runner and use coconut water in the Summer to help reduce cramping. It most definitely helps and is easier on the stomach than E-Caps or S-Caps (both electrolyte pills). It works faster too.

carlitoyap March 13, 2012 | 12:13 PM

If anyone wishes to know accurately about the benefits of coconut water, please ask someone from the tropics. I am from South East Asia and i can say that its most suitable as a cooling-effect after eating heaty or fried food. it is also good for fever and heat-related illness.

Wowie March 09, 2012 | 10:19 AM

I was never a fan of bottled/packed Coconut Water, just the ones fresh from the Fruit with no preservatives.

jay January 26, 2012 | 8:42 AM

Cool, so the author can read WebMD and go on CNN. Thanks for doing the legwork on this one.

Simone December 26, 2011 | 10:19 AM

The first thing I noticed is that you referred to the "Makers" of coconut water. Coconut water is not made. Coconut water can be bottled but it cannot be "made". If it is, it certainly is not coconut water but a juice containing the flavoring. I grew up on coconut water and swear by the benefits of it. It is an acquired taste and the taste should never be the same as each coconut is different but the general coconut water taste is similar. The best place I have found to get all natural coconut water is to go to any caribbean market that has them frozen and shipped in. Nothing added but the pure coconut goodness. Refreshing when ice cold!!

er October 20, 2011 | 2:46 PM

Coconut water is disgusting.

julio October 13, 2011 | 7:48 AM

im a mixed martial artist and i have found that coconut water has helped me alot mnore than gatorade,i personally dont believe wat this dietician says.i think hes being biased

lovely October 10, 2011 | 6:23 PM

Coconut water has iron its very good for you if your immune system is low. Guyana and Trinidad has very sweet coconut water.

annmarie September 12, 2011 | 5:52 PM

seem to be when something new that might be good for the body comes along main stream media always gives a caution about it but when a new vaccine comes out it is the greatest discovery ever....

Michael September 07, 2011 | 10:53 AM

A very banal article, that does not achieve its negative aims. Pure coconut water is a refreshing healthy natural drink, what research evidence refutes this? Nowhere is it stated that drinking CW is hazardous to anyone's health. Manufacturer/celebrity claims are no where near as outlandish as the author suggesting that CW has somewhere been recommended as a treatment for high blood pressure. With all the media diatribe out there confusing consumers into making unhealthy choices, perhaps 'SheKnows' could be less biased, more balanced and above all more responsible in what it publishes.

PH September 05, 2011 | 5:54 AM

The article opens in the first paragraph with "but new research indicates coconut water may not be the health elixir it and its followers claim it to be." In fact the new research referred to merely says some bottled coconut water products are mislabeled - it does not say anything about actual properties of coconut water. Very deceptive writing. Coconut water is great after a workout - or with rum!

FManuta September 02, 2011 | 12:23 PM

Very interesting article. I would like to comment on the first sentence, “With its cultish celebrity following, coconut water has become the new go-to for thirsty health nuts.” CULTISH? I don’t think the writer is aware of, or maybe is and just chooses to dismiss, the centuries of use of this product prior to western civilization!! OH, by the way it is documented that cultures have used coconuts for centuries, but I am not trying to confirm its use, just concerned of what the writer thinks. According to Michele’s article, using WebMD as her reference, “…coconut water has been used as a way to rehydrate after exercise or illness, used as an emergency substitute for IV solutions, and may be a good storage solution for a tooth that has been knocked out until someone can see a dentist. Some substances in coconut water could theoretically have antioxidant benefits in the body….” I don’t see where she states that a sports drink can be used in the same circumstances. Can it be that you CAN’T substitute the life sustaining properties of coconut water with a sports drink? HMMMMM?!?! Now to address the scientific evidence. Michele has stated, “….it also lacks scientific support….scientific evidence is limited. WebMD says….small studies that suggest coconut water may reduce the risk of heart attack and may significantly lower blood pressure, but….has not been well-studied as a treatment and that there is no documented evidence to clearly prove the health benefits of coconut water….” I question the amount of research that Michele has conducted because according to PubMed.gov, there is over 2900 articles (research) about coconuts; over 450 about coconut water (CW) and 30 articles of research on CW and rehydration alone! Furthermore, I don’t believe that any of the coconut water manufacturers have stated that their drink be used in any form of treatment. Although, ConsumerLab stated that Zico supports what it says on its labels and Vita Coco and O.N.E. have been false in their advertising, we should focus on the positive of what coconut water is. CW has NO cholesterol, is low fat with lower calories, naturally sterile, identical to human blood plasma and is a natural isotonic beverage. There are several new products in the market, C-Dub is one. In closing; YES, “….Don't be deceived….” like the article states, but also don’t believe everything you read, believe what “YOU” research!

birdy September 01, 2011 | 9:31 AM

so this is basically a stupid dietitian who hasn't kept up on anything. when bottled correctly, coconut water has ALL FIVE ELECTROLYTES found in the blood while sports drinks only contain about two. this is why hospitals use coconut water to rehydrate patients-- not gatorade.

The Mar King September 01, 2011 | 12:54 AM

So, basically she is suggesting that if you are a 'hardcore fitness fanatic' and you need more electrolytes you should drink the 'sports recovery drinks'.... that have more sugar, food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, 'natural flavors' (whatever that means), blah blah blah blah blah...as opposed to something that is 100% natural and has no side effects... "When something like this becomes wildly popular, people have a tendency to look at the claims rather than reality." Hmmmmmm...you mean like Gatorade? Really...Registered Dietician???!!???

S.E. August 31, 2011 | 4:39 PM

After numerous knee operations after my pt sessions I would get horrible dibilitating leg cramps from my hip to my foot. My PT suggested pedialyte to rehydrate and balance my electrolytes rather than water that hydrates and passes right through you. It worked. Now I use ZICO and it works just the same, my muscles relax within minutes. Not so with plain water. The pedialyte tastes awful but the coconut water tastes pretty good. My offial scientific research on the matter.

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