Coconut Water: Boost or Bust?

We are all aware that water is necessary for life, but what are other healthful beverage options? With the recent hype being coconut water, could the “natural” beverage be a good addition to a healthy diet?

Coconut water comes from the inside of an immature coconut. The clear liquid is low in calories and fat and high in electrolytes, such as potassium, magnesium and sodium. Consumers typically drink coconut water for rehydration purposes in replacement of water or sports drinks. However, at $2 per container, coconut water might not be worth it.

Typically, the average person does not exercise enough to need electrolyte replacement. Our bodies are very resilient and can adapt to more than we give it credit for. However, for those who simply consume the beverage for the sweet taste, I will provide you with some food for thought.

In 2011, Consumer Lab conducted a scientific study on three brands of coconut water—O.N.E, Vita Coco and Zico1. They compared the actual amounts of lead, potassium, sodium, magnesium and total sugar to the claimed amounts on the nutrition labels. Zico Natural Pure Premium Coconut Water passed all of the tests, while O.N.E and Vita Coco did not.

O.N.E. only contained 18.3% (11 mg) of the claimed sodium and 76.6% (19 mg) of the claimed magnesium. Vita Coco contained 59% (24 mg) of claimed sodium and 64.4% (26 mg) of claimed magnesium.

For those of you who swear by coconut water, then continue to drink up. No one knows your body like you, but please continue to self-educate. Nutrition is an ever-evolving field, and not all labeling is accurate.  Remember, when in doubt, nothing beats water.

By Laura Oliver, MS, RD 

1“Coconut Waters Review – Tests of O.N.E, Vita Coco, and Zico.” Consumer Lab. 2 Aug. 2011. <>.


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