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.
Why 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.”