By Yael Brender
Many companies claim coconut water will help you lose weight, slow down the ageing process, lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol and even cure a hangover. According to accredited practicing dietician, Julia Gilbert, coconut water is definitely not what many are saying.
Dietician Sharon Natoli agrees, and has been investigating the claim that coconut water is better than a sports drink. During exercise, water is lost through through sweat. You also lose sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
A 2013 research study found sodium-enriched coconut water can replace your potassium loss, but has only trace elements of the other minerals and won’t properly re-hydrate the body after intense exercise. Natoli notes that coconut water is naturally low in sodium (if it isn’t sodium-enriched) so it won’t replace the sodium your body loses through sweat either.
Coconut water isn’t the best way to replenish potassium either, the best way is through a balanced diet. Five serves of vegetables, two serves of fruit and two serves of wholegrain per day will ensure healthy potassium levels, according to Natoli.
There is 800g of potassium in one bottle of coconut water, but 900g in a potato – and with the potato you also get high fibre levels and your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Not to mention that there’s virtually no sugar or fat in a potato, but there’s untold amounts of sugar lurking in a bottle of coconut water. Go with the potato.
Natoli also notes that regular exercise doesn’t cause most people to sweat enough to need to replenish with anything other than water. Sports drinks are designed for athletes that exercise at a high intensity level for more than an hour each day. Natoli suggests drinking a large glass of water and a small snack to replenish fluids and nutrients after exercise.
If you really want to drink coconut water, check the label for a brand with less than 5g of sugar per 100mL. This may be harder than you think, because many commercial brands can be high in sugar, especially if they contain added fruit. Or better yet, crack open a green coconut and drink that.
By BB intern, Yael Brenner.
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