Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside coconuts – not to be confused with coconut milk, which is made by crushing and squeezing the liquid out of the coconut flesh and is thick/creamy. Coconut water is on opaque color and looks relatively similar to water.
So what’s so special about coconut water? Well it’s low in calories and has about a fifth of the sugar found in other fresh fruit juices, but also contains numerous vitamins and nutrients. A few include Lauric Acid, Chloride and Iron, as well as Magnesium, Sodium, Phosphorus, Calcium and Potassium. In fact, coconut water has almost twice the amount of potassium as a banana! It also helps to restore a healthy pH balance, which strengthens the immune system, increases metabolism and boosts energy levels. Some studies have shown that coconut water may help with a number of minor to severe health conditions due to the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant levels found in it.
Coconut water is also high in electrolytes, which makes it ideal for rehydrating the body after exercise. Most electrolyte sport drinks are high in sugar (i.e. high fructose corn syrup..yuck!), artificial flavoring and chemicals – coconut water is the perfect natural alternative.
And if you’re like me, you may be wondering if this new coconut water trend is going to inhibit the coconut tree ecosystem. Good news, the coconut tree blooms up to 13 times per year – yielding about 60 coconuts per year. Although it does take about a year for the fruit to reach full maturity, coconuts are available year round.
Currently I am not loyal to any particular brand, they all taste pretty similar to me. Some of the more popular brands out there are Vita Coco, Zico and O.N.E. Many of these brands also have flavored versions of coconut water, but be advised that these typically come with added sugars. You can purchase coconut water convenient 11 oz packages which are great for on the go, and they also come in larger 1 liter sizes perfect for at home :)
Besides being used as a substitute for sports drinks, coconut water can be used for cooking. It can add health benefits and flavor to food and drinks.
Cooking with Coconut Water
Substitute for water when making rice or other grains
Blend into smoothies or shakes
Mix into soups
Stir into sauces
Add to fresh fruit juice
Swap for water in baked goods