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Coconut water: How good is it really?

People in the tropics substitute it for drinking water. It’s advertised as healthy, natural and isotonic. And the beverage industry has great hopes for this delicious liquid. Coconut water is, however, not a diet drink; it provides about as much energy as an apple spritzer. What is it really that this expensive trend drink has to offer?

All the rage in the USA –
now also widely available in Europe

“Yoga for the palate”, “natural”, “many minerals”, “isotonic effect” – these promises are held out for coconut waters that have now also reached German supermarket shelves. In den USA they are in vogue. Stars like Madonna and Rihanna reputedly hold investments in coconut water brands. Internet forums also recommend the drinks for dietary purposes. Coconut water is the slightly cloudy liquid inside green coconuts. The nuts are left to grow for about seven months on the palm tree; a fully ripe coconut takes one year. One young nut yields about 0.5 litres of coconut water, which in tropical countries like Brazil and Thailand is extracted under airtight conditions. People in the tropics have always drunk coconut water, sometimes instead of precious or contaminated drinking water. Directly from the nut the liquid is more or less sterile.

Vendors promote isotonic properties
in their coconut water

Pure coconut water has a sweetish, nutty flavour. It consists mainly of water and sugar plus potassium, sodium and magnesium. Some vendors advertise their beverage as being isotonic. Strictly speaking isotonic means that the concentration of all the substances dissolved in the drink must correspond to that in human blood. Isotonic drinks are meant to give the body a boost after sports activity. The German consumer watchdog, Stiftung Warentest, has not tested coconut waters for this effect, but has confirmed it for apple spritzer and alcoholfree wheat beer. Their energy content of about 20 kilocalories per 0.1 litres is roughly that of coconut water. A drink can be laced with mango or pineapple juice to increase the energy boost.

Coconut water is not a diet drink

Big beverage players have already invested in coconut water: Coca-Cola with Zico, the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group in the USA with Vita Coco. In Germany organic food companies and start-ups share the bulk of the business. 

Coconut water has about as much energy as apple spritzer; as such it is no diet drink. Check the label to see how many calories are contained in a bottle. And don’t confuse these products with coconut milk. Here the rich fruit pulp of ripe coconuts is mixed with water. 


Source: Stiftung Warentest