Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Coconut Water for Hydration
What is the healthiest beverage you can drink? Fruit juice? Milk? Sports drinks? Herbal tea? It may come as a surprise to you, but one of the healthiest beverages is coconut water. Most people respond to this statement with, "what the heck is coconut water?"
You've been to the grocery store, picked up a coconut, and shaken it, right? The sloshing sound you hear inside is coconut water. Contrary to popular belief, this liquid is not coconut milk. Coconut milk is made by crushing and squeezing the liquid from coconut meat. What you get is a thick, creamy, white fluid that looks much like dairy milk. Coconut water, on the other hand, looks pretty much like ordinary water, although it may be slightly opaque. The two are completely different in taste, texture, nutrient content, and health benefits. Coconut water is sometimes referred to as coconut juice and is consumed just like any other fruit juice.
Coconut water is being hyped as better than water because of its electrolyte content, but these nutrients are helpful, supplied quickly in a beverage, only for very active people and athletes who rapidly lose them through excessive sweating.
Water makes up 75 percent of muscle. It is needed for tissues and organs to work properly, and for nutrients to be transported into cells and wastes out. Humans can only survive about a week without water.
When fully hydrated the body performs optimally. Dehydration can cause irritability, fatigue, confusion, diminished athletic performance and, in severe cases, death.
A recent study by Consumerlab.com, an independent laboratory, found that two of the most popular varieties, Vita Coco and O.N.E. Coconut Water, contained even less sodium and magnesium than advertised. Only Zico Natural contained the amount of sodium listed on its label (160 milligrams).
Few studies have looked directly at coconut water and exercise. In one, researchers had subjects run for 90 minutes in hot temperatures and then tested the effects of plain water, a sports drink, coconut water or a sodium-enriched coconut water in the two hours after exercise. While all remained “somewhat dehydrated,” the sodium-enriched coconut water worked as well as the sports drink.
Sports drinks serve a purpose among elite athletes and those who exercise for long periods. But for those who exercise at a moderate intensity for an hour or less, water is probably the better choice.