Coconut water is the drink on everyone’s lips, but is it a fad or truly fabulous for our health? GTG Editor Susannah Taylor finds out
Once upon a time it was blueberries and pine nuts, then it was Acai berries, now the current nutritional buzz is all about coconuts, whether it be cooking with their oil (see our feature by Hilly Janes here ), blending coconut meat into smoothies (see Kinvara Balfour’s Postcard from LA ) or supping coconut water. The latter is currently the most hyped drink in the world, and anyone who is anyone (including Rihanna and Stella McCartney) are being seen to rehydrate with the stuff. But is it all it’s cracked up to be health-wise? It would appear so, yes.
Nature’s isotonic drink
Firstly, don’t confuse coconut water with coconut milk. Coconut water is the liquid inside a young, green coconut, while the milk appears when the coconut matures or is created from grating older coconut meat (used to give curries their creamy texture). Research shows that the benefits of this natural drink are endless: it has been used for rehydration and as a health and beauty aide in tropical regions for centuries; is low in fat and calories (around 25 cals per 125ml); has no cholesterol and has a natural balance of sodium, potassium and calcium.
Benefits of drinking the stuff therefore include immediate rehydration, increased energy, regulation of body temperature and better cell osmosis which equals better general bodily functioning.
The coconut palm, shell, husk and meat serve as a natural filter as water passes through the coconut tree, so by the time it reaches the hollow of the coconut, the water is clearer than the purest spring water, and 100 per cent sterile – the key is keeping it this way.
A substitute for plasma
During World War II soldiers fighting in the Pacific were without blood plasma for transfusions. Because coconut water is in perfect ph and electrolyte balance with the human blood, (and is sterile), it served as an ideal substitute, thus helping to save thousands of lives.
So far so amazing, but with so many now on the market how do we know which one to go for?
The purest are flash pasteurised
According to Jax Coco, the current darling of the coconut water world, sold in Harvey Nichols and restaurants such Nobu, the Berkeley, the Dorchester and also available at Ocado.com from November, it’s important that coconut water isn’t over-pasteurised as if this process goes on too long sugars can be activated. Jax Coco goes from tree to flash pasteurisation to chic glass bottle within two hours (and yes it needs to be slightly pasteurised to give it a shelf life).
Read the label
Always read the label and check that your coconut water isn’t from concentrate and contains no added sugars. A few on the market have been flavoured with other juices (such as pineapple or berries), which could mask a less than clean taste, and will also add unwanted sugars.
My conclusion? Go cocoNUTS - the purest forms of this natural super juice are here to stay. One word of warning however - if you are a fan of syrup loaded highly calorific isotonic drinks , your tastebuds may be a little disappointed. Coconut water (unsurprisingly since it is wholly derived from the environment) might be a little bland. My advice is to make the switch anyway - your tatsebuds will adjust - there seems to be no other drink in the world that's better for us, other than water of course. What the hell took us so long?
Coconut waters we like
Vita Coco 100% Natural Coconut Water with Passionfruit, £2.15, www.hollandandbarrett.com
Chi Coconut Water, £2.99, www.planetorganic.com
Dr Martin’s Organic Coconut Water with Banana, £3.49, www.realfoods.co.uk
Cocofina Natural Coconut Water, £1.69, www.realfoods.co.uk
Jax Coco in a bottle, £8.97 (pack of six), www.jaxcoco.com
Jaz Coco Tetra Pak, £14.95 (pack of 12), www.jaxcoco.com