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Coconut water is the new sport and lifestyle drink. It’s low in calories, fat-free, full of nutrients and an ideal thirst quencher that helps to keep your fluid intake balanced. In addition, drinking coconut water is said to stimulate metabolism, reduce blood pressure, help with losing weight and good for your digestion. In short, it seems to be a genuine “wonder drink”.

Not to be confused with coconut milk – a creamy substance made from the grated flesh of ripe brown coconuts – coconut water is the clear liquid from young green coconuts. It’s harvested several months before the coconuts are ripe and one young coconut can contain as much as 800 ml of liquid. Fresh coconut water is very refreshing – it tastes sweet and slightly nutty. It’s made up chiefly water and soluble sugars, it’s naturally isotonic and is high in potassium. These properties make it an ideal after-exercise drink as it helps to replace nutrients lost through exercise. But experts warn that, because of the relatively low sodium content, it’s not as effective as regular sports drinks for maximum recovery after intense exercise.

In the tropics, coconut water is a traditional beverage and local people will tell you it’s very good for you and has healing properties. Because it’s normally sterile when it comes out of the coconut, it can be a good substitute for water in areas where clean water is difficult to find. In recent years, demand for coconut water has boomed internationally and it can now be bought readily across Europe. Endorsed by a number of celebrities and attractively packaged, coconut water is available on the Internet, in some supermarkets and in trendy foodie shops. You have the choice of organic, natural or sweetened with natural fruit juices.

The environmental assessment for the cartons (production, transport, packaging, etc.) isn’t transparent. The fact that, especially in the USA, more and more Hollywood celebrities are endorsing these products seems to indicate that the profit margins could be substantial. Analysts say that 2011 sales in the USA totalled 400 million US dollars. And there’s no reason to believe that Europe will be any less profitable.

Authors: Heike Kreutz & Harald Seitz

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