Coconut water may be the new “it” beverage, but is it really better for you than regular water?
Energy Upper
Credit: Levi Brown

Numerous health claims are helping launch coconut water as the “It” drink for health, aging, and exercise. But the big question: does it deliver? Not exactly. While the liquid extracted from young (green) coconuts does sport less sugar than fruit juice, it’s no superfood. Here’s a quick recap of what to expect from this tropical newcomer.

Sports Drink. Yes.

For the prolonged exerciser who needs to replace some of the sodium lost in sweat, coconut water is too low in sodium to be of much help. But for the average Joe or Jane “working-out” for an hour or less, it’s an ok rehydration drink, no better or worse than any other sports beverage or plain water. On the plus side: A cup of the 60-calorie beverage delivers a good source of the mineral potassium, something missing from the diets of people who don’t eat many veggies.

Hangover Cure. No.

Google “hangover cure” and coconut water pops up often as a remedy for a spirited night of overindulgence. Problem is, the advice is all anecdotal. Not a shred of scientific proof helps prove this urban myth.

Cancer Fighter. No.

While it’s rich in antioxidants like the mineral selenium, coconut water is a no-go as a cancer-fighter according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. The main reason: no hard research to back up the claim.

Cholesterol Lowering Agent. Too early to tell.

A couple of small studies with animals show that coconut water can help lower lipid levels in rats fed fat and cholesterol enriched chow. But it’s a giant leap to go from preliminary research with animals to saying coconut water could lower cholesterol levels in people eating high-fat, high-cholesterol diets. Stay tuned.

Recipe: Energy Upper

This smoothie recipe features coconut water that’s blended with canned lychees and frozen peaches and provides a source of natural fruit sugars to give you a boost.