(credit) getty images via chatelaine
It was in Malaysia that I first tried coconut-water. I was backpacking throughout Southeast Asia, and upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur I fell violently sick. I was bedridden in the hostel and my partner went out to search for “healing power.” Luckily his family had come from the region and he was able to ascertain some local meds in the shape of a few young green coconuts and charcoal-pills. Sure enough, after downing the coconut-water I felt better in short time. I’ve been told it’s like a natural form of “Gatorade” — full of electrolytes to invigorate your cells.
LOVING COCONUT WATER
Now I see coconut-water everywhere. I noticed it all bottled up in pretty containers at Whole Foods. I have a friend who’s addicted to the stuff, but only drinks it fresh from young coconuts that she purchases from a wholesaler (that sells to Asian grocery stores). Then I had a conversation with a raw-vegan friend who extolled the virtues of coconut-water. She so convinced me that I went off to Whole Foods to buy some. Although I wasn’t as ambitious as to cut open a young coconut yet.
At first, I tried it after running a few kilometers and perked up real quick. Hmmm, nice. Then I tried drinking it before a run, when I was feeling sluggish and cranky, and I took a few slow sips of coconut water and plumped up in a flash. Hmmm, interesting.
I also drink tons of coconut-water when I’m feeling under-the-weather, and even full-on sick. I find it helps me get better, faster…although that could just be my wishful thinking!
I’m not sure I quite like the taste, per se. It’s pleasant yet I wouldn’t say it’s all that tasty. It basically tastes like a sweet-water. A good coconut-water should have a wisp of the coconut-meat taste to it. Not that fake dried-coconut taste, but the fleshy sweet-chewy coconut-meat taste. Actually, my bad. A young green coconut doesn’t have “meat” yet, rather the “meat” is in that gelantinous stage and called coconut-jelly. Mmm, yum. In general, I find some brands of coconut-water too sweet, so I often top it off with some alkaline-water to balance it out.
There are flavoured coconut-water (ie. mango, pineapple, acai, pomegranate, peach), which I find quite horrendous because it makes the coconut-water taste artificial. Yeah, yeah, the flavours are “natural” extracts or juices or essences or whatever. Meh. I prefer it clean and fresh and straight-out coconut sweet.
WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU
* It’s isotonic — supplies electrolytes (mineral ions such as magnesium, potassium, sodium) needed by your body for muscle, nerve, tissue, cell function. When we work-out, we lose electrolytes through sweat. Drinking coconut water speeds up recovery.
* Tons of a particular electrolyte — potassium. Coconut water has more potassium than sport drinks or bananas (660mg per serving!). Potassium is a good thing — it helps cell function; alkalizing our blood (disease needs acidic environment); regulates blood pressure. Yay!
* Little bit of lauric-acid, which is a type of fat. Don’t worry, it’s a healthy fat that helps with nutrient absorption and gives quick energy. It’s found in a mother’s breast milk!
* Sterile and mimics human blood plasma
* Contains calcium, riboflavin, vitamin c
* Bleach & fungacide: You may have seen the commercial young coconuts, all-pristine and white in the market with their outer green husk peeled off. Often times these pretty coconuts are dipped in bleach and fungacide (!) to make them look presentable.
* Short shelf-life: Coconut-water that starts off with unprocessed young coconuts, only has a shelf-life of 3 weeks. This explains why most commercial coconut-water distributors use the above-methods to extend the natural shelf-life. While organic suppliers will pluck the young coconut off the tree, quickly bring them to sterile environment to hull the coconuts by hand, bottle them up and then freeze them right away. Freezing the product does not break down the coconut-water’s components and does preserve it.
* Pasteurized: Most commercial coconut water drinks are flash-pasteurized, not raw. As explained by Body Ecology, “many proponents of pasteurization claim that it kills harmful bacteria without damaging food, but pasteurized products can actually harm your health and deprive you of beneficial enzymes and vitamins.”
COCONUT WATERS OUT THERE
I admit, my go-to coconut water is from Organic Lives (below) but when I run out I just pop into my local health food store to grab whatever brand they have available. I never, ever buy the flavoured coconut-water, so all the brands (other than Organic Lives, which has a decidedly more palatable flavour to my tastebuds) end up tasting the same. I can’t really discern the difference — it all tastes mildly sweet with a slight coconut taste.
This is my absolute favorite coconut water! I tried the other brands before I tried this one, and couldn’t believe the difference. Could.not.believe. Seriously. It’s smooth, fresh, sweet, clean. Yum!
They source their coconut water from a sustainable organic farm in Thailand, where they use traditional farming methods (composting, hand mulching, etc). The harvesting, husking, and processing is all done by hand (!) to retain the integrity of the coconut water. It’s pretty awesome that Organic Lives works with this little community in Thailand to sustain their own economy. Sorry, they only ship within Canada.
More brands under the cut (including Blue Monkey, O.N.E., Vita Coco, Zico, Taste Nirvana, C20, Amy & Brian, Naked, and Body Ecology):
They sell this brand of coconut-water at my Moksha hot-yoga studio, and I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods. It’s a nice mild-sweet coconut water compared to the other commercial brands. There’s not too much info about it…even their website it’s under construction “monkey-ing around” as they state. They say it’s 100% Natural plantation water. It’s an American brand (Las Vegas) and uses young coconuts from Thailand. They also have flavoured coconut-water (and you know how I feel about that!) such as guava, acai-pom, passionfruit, mango. Actually, there’s one type I do wish to try — they have a coconut-water with coconut pulp!
This coconut-water comes in a tetra-pack and I find it all the time in Whole Foods and other local health food shops, even supermarkets. It’s a good quick-fix drink. I prefer their plain coconut-water but they also have a line of fruity-flavours (mango, passionfruit, tangerine, peach-mango, acai & pom, pineapple). They source their green coconuts from Brazil and they flash-pasteurize their coconut water. Find shops here. Oh, some trivia: Madonna and Demi Moore have stock in this privately-owned company.
I also find this one at certain supermarkets and health-store markets. I can’t remember if my local Whole Foods carries it, but I do know that my local Whole Foods always sells out of the large litres of coconut-water (whatever brand it is) and they only carry those little tetra-pak ones. But I digres…so O.N.E. also comes in tetra-pak, and sources its green coconuts from Brazil. They gently flash-preserve the coconut water before it’s packaged. They have plain coconut-water (best!), mango, guava, and pineapple. Find shops here. FYI, Pepsi owns interest in this brand.
ZICO coconut water states its the “first all-natural, aseptic bottled coconut water in the world, which means it has all the same benefits of ZICO in a carton.” You can also find it in tetra-paks too. Their coconut water is a blend from coconuts from Brazil and Indonesia (and Asia, which kinda doesn’t make sense since Indonesia is in Asia, no?). They flash-pasteurize their coconut water to allow it to last at least 12 months if unopened. It comes in these flavours: natural, pina tropicale (pineapple/citrus), lima citron (lemon/lime), pomberry (pom & berries), passionfruit, mango. Find shops here. I can find this brand easily at Trader Joes. PS: Coca-Cola owns interest in this brand.
The following brands I’ve never tried, but there’s an attached link to reviews for each product.
I’ve never tried this brand but here you go, but here’s a review of its taste. It’s made by a family of cooperative farmers at Sunsweet Naturals and they state they use fresh water grove green coconuts from Thailand instead of coastal salt water coconuts. Looks like you can only find this stuff in the US (shops).
Comes in what looks like a glass bottle, they source their coconuts from Thailand. They have these products: Coco Aloe (coconut water with aloe vera jelly); Coconut Water; Coconut Water with coconut pulp. Store locater here. Review of its taste from Happy Healthy Life.
Truth be told, I haven’t tried this coconut water. But they seem to have a similar idea as Organic Lives, and it’s found in the States. Body Ecology’s coconut water is raw and organic, from small family farms in remote areas of Thailand. They ship within the US, and can be found in these shops in California.
Coconut Water Recovery™ Shot is available in 3 oz. Shots. This shot is coconut water that’s concentrated. Agro Labs’ state that “whenever you feel rundown or depleted our Coconut Water Recovery™ Shot is ideal for energy replenishment or before and after exercise.” You need to drink 8-12oz of water with your shot.
I found this brand in a pack of three at Whole Foods. Haven’t tried it yet. Their website says King Island is 100% pure coconut water from young green coconuts from Thailand. It is not from concentrate, no sugar added, no preservatives added, fat free, allergen free and gluten free.
I also this brand at Whole Foods Canada. Beyond is cased in a sleek glass bottle. Their website states Beyond’s Coconut Water is 100% pure coconut water, free from preservaties, additives and no added sugar. A product from Australia, it seems Beyond uses coconuts from Fiji or Thailand (it’s not very clear). * Update: Bland taste for me, but if you like coconut water without any natural sweetness at all, then this would be a good choice. Personally, will not try again.
There are two versions: Coconut Water with Pulp, and Coconut Water with Pulp No Sugar Added. There are preservatives added, mind you. Check out the Grace Coconut Water link here. Review here. Buy here or here.
Coco Fit claims to contain only 6 grams of sugar per bottle; 300% less sugar per ounce than the two leading coconut water brands. Coco Fit+ is also infused with 1000 IU?s of Vitamin D-3 along with Omega 3 fatty acids. Website here. Buy/review here. Buy here, or here. Review as sports suppliment here.
EXTRA THINGS ABOUT COCONUT WATER
* It’s sterile inside a green coconut (until opened), so it was mixed with blood during WWII for emergency blood transfusions!
* Body Ecology’s Donna Gates believes young coconut water is most beneficial when it’s made into a kefir with probiotics. Follow steps to make it here.