Coconut water, the clear liquid found at the centre of a green, immature coconut, has been a fixture on health-conscious brunch spot menus for a few years now.
And its popularity doesn't look to be slowing down. In 2017 it was reported that sales of coconut water were set to quadruple over the coming five years to £500m.
What is coconut water?
For those as yet unacquainted with the bev, coconut water has a sweet, refreshing taste. Unlike other coconut-derived products (like oil and milk), coconut water is low in fat and has a light consistency that literally mimics water.
Unless you’re lucky enough to slurp it straight from the flesh, coconut water generally comes in cartons or cans.
Does drinking coconut water have health benefits?
You bet. Nick-named Mother Nature’s sports drink because of its superior nutrient content – which makes it ideal for replenishing stores post-workout – coconut water contains easily digestible carbs (yet, still has less sugar than most actual sports drinks) and electrolytes, including potassium and sodium.
That said, regular water is, obviously, the gold standard where hydration is concerned, so no need to overhaul your post-workout refuel routine.
Is it good to drink coconut water every day?
So, should you be going gung-ho on the drink? Over to Harley Street Nutritionist and author, Rhiannon Lambert. 'As with anything, singling out a single food or drink and hailing it to be secret to health is not an accurate way of thinking about nutrition. Our bodies really require a varied and balanced diet as opposed to anything really specific. There is no such thing as a superfood,' she tells WH.
Generally speaking, coconut water is a safe (and delicious!) drink for most people. Though, those with kidney disease are advised to limit their consumption of foods and beverages that are high in potassium, of which coconut water is.
What is the best coconut water brand?
Okay. So it's not a panacea, sure. And do watch out – pasteurised and processed versions contain fewer nutrients than fresh-from-the-nut stuff, so that's something to scan the back of a carton for, before parting with your cash.
Personally? We’re partial to Lucy Bee Organic Coconut Water – it’s not from concentrate and has no added sugar. Score.
So, what are some of the potential plus points of the bev? Scroll on to find out.
Looking for a healthy soft beverage? Then get yourself a glass of coconut water. It’s certainly more beneficially healthy than a glass of fizzy pop.
For example in a 330ml can of Fanta orange there's 15g sugar whereas (depending on the brand) coconut water has around 8g. Not sugar-free but they'll be naturally occurring so fewer nasties.
The fresher your coconut water, the higher the level of antioxidants – so try to avoid the more processed and heat pasteurised versions.
'Coconut water is a source of vitamin C and so does contain some antioxidant properties,' nutritionist Jenna Hope tells WH. 'Antioxidants donate an electron from their outer shell to stabilise free radicals which would otherwise cause damage to other cells.' But her watch out?
'I wouldn’t recommend coconut water as your main source. Try focussing on getting your antioxidants from fruits and vegetables of varying colours.'
Coconut water's rise to fame in the world of post-workout drinks has come about due to its high potassium and electrolyte count.
One small study found that coconut water restored hydration after exercise better than water.
'Coconut water is a good source of sodium and potassium which are two key electrolytes lost through sweat during exercise. Sodium and potassium are vital for maintaining fluid balance in the body,' says Hope.
She notes, however, that coconut water does contain more sugar and calories than the plan stuff, and so advises drinking in moderation – 'and maybe try mixing it with water if you’re gasping.'
Early research indicates that coconut water could be helpful when it comes to decreasing cholesterol.
A study carried out in 2006 found that rats who were given coconut water had a lower chance of having a heart attack.
But, sure – animal studies' results are not always easy to extrapolate onto humans.
'The research has predominantly been conducted on rats and has found a beneficial effect of coconut water on reducing cholesterol – although as the research is largely on animals we cannot suggest that these effects are similar in humans,' says Hope.
Again, it's early days. But one study conducted on rats with kidney stones found that coconut water prevented crystals from sticking to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract.
'There is some animal research to suggest that coconut water had beneficial effects on renal function for up to two weeks following administration,' details Hope.
'Although the research was conducted on a very small group of rats and therefore we cannot conclude the same results for humans.'
She has said coconut water, ‘acts an anti-inflammatory, detoxifier and an anti-microbial – all of which work to decrease incidences of acne.’
Dermatologist Dr. Erin Gilbert has said the vitamins in coconut water have been ‘shown to decrease the rate of skin ageing, allowing the skin to repair and restore itself more effectively.’
The proteins present are responsible for encouraging cell growth and cell activation.
One glass (240g) of coconut water contains 57.6mg of calcium aka the best pal of your bones and teeth.
'Coconut water does contain some calcium and so will contribute to supporting teeth and bones,' says Hope.
'Although it’s important that you ensure you’re consuming a range of calcium sources as coconut water isn’t as high as other sources such as dairy, nuts, soya or fortified products.'
Woken up feeling like that last glass of Merlot wasn't the best idea you've had all week?
Well do your little hungover self a favour and have a large glass of coconut water. It's full of potassium which will help you feel hydrated again, not like the shrivelled up raisin you do right now, and it's non-acidic.
So it won't upset your stomach after an evening on the bubbles.