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Everything You Need To Know About Coconut Water And Why We Love It

By Carolina Schneider, MS, RD (@thegreenrd)

Originally from Brazil, Carolina moved to Florida in 2010 to complete her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Journalism, followed by a Master of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics. Carolina recently relocated to New York City and she is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant for JOI. Her favorite JOI recipe is the Golden Milk!

If you haven’t sipped it out of a green coconut on the beaches of Brazil, chances are you’ve seen it in your local grocery store. Coconut water has become a staple item in many pantries. Besides having a good nutritional profile, coconut water is uniquely refreshing and delicious from all of its natural sweetness! 

Coconut on the beachPhoto by Matthew Henry from Burst

Why We Love It
We love plain coconut water, but what we love even more is mixing it with JOI’s nutbase. The result? A more nutritious, delicious, and rich product with the natural sweetness of coconut water coupled with the natural creaminess of JOI (good for your body and good in your belly)! Wondering where to start on your new journey to coconut freedom...let's start with the basics:

Fun Facts About Coconuts

  1. Despite its name, coconut is actually a fruit. More specifically, coconut is a “drupe,” a subcategory of fruits that have a juicy flesh, a hard shell, and an inner seed. 
  2. What we call coconut “water” is actually the juice of the fruit. It’s most nutritious when the coconut is young. As it ripens, the fruit absorbs this juice to form coconut meat (delicious, by the way, if you haven’t tried). 
  3. Coconut trees naturally purify the water inside the fruit, making it safe to drink as is. And there is plenty to go around...coconut trees are able to produce 50 to 200 coconuts per year! 

Health Benefits
We love coconut water because it keeps us hydrated! In fact, coconut water is about 95% water with the remaining being tasty natural sugars. Not to confuse it with coconut milk, which is made by blending water and coconut meat, and has a very high fat content. 

Coconut water has naturally occurring electrolytes that are not only essential for recovery after that sweaty outdoor run, but also for everyday bodily functions. Examples of electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. When we sweat, we lose them, hence why you may feel fatigued and dizzy after an intense workout. 

Electrolytes are substances that carry an electric charge (#throwback chemistry class) and are able to conduct an electric current. Inside our bodies, they regulate fluid and acid-base balance (pH levels), help with muscle contraction (remember, your heart is a muscle) and ensure proper function of the nervous system (transmission of signals from your brain to the rest of your body). 

In addition to being a good source of electrolytes, coconut water also has vitamins and minerals that keep you healthy, along with fiber and some protein. So you can ditch the sports drinks (all of those ending in “-ade”) once and for all. Coconut water is the perfect hydration drink minus the food dyes, artificial flavors, and added sugars found in those colorful drinks (some which bring a whopping 3 tablespoons of sugar per bottle...Yikes!)

Palm trees

Photo by Brodie Vissers from Burst

When you hear “potassium,” do you think of bananas? Well, one cup of coconut water has more potassium than a medium banana (550mg versus 450mg, respectively). That’s about 16% of the daily adequate intake for potassium. Potassium has the “simple” function of regulating heartbeat, lowering blood pressure and preventing muscle cramps.

Sodium is essential to maintain fluid levels in the body as it is able to bind and retain water. This means it plays a major role in maintaining blood pressure. Although too much sodium is one of the culprits for elevated blood pressure (not a good thing for your health), we need to consume adequate amounts to maintain normal levels. Since sodium is the main electrolyte we lose when we sweat, it’s important to replenish it. Coconut water has about 10% of sodium needed in a day, so it’s a good post-workout alternative without compromising your health. 

Calcium & Magnesium
Calcium and magnesium work together in muscle contraction and relaxation. Calcium is especially important for bone health, as it helps build and strengthen them, slowing bone density loss. Magnesium is involved in hundreds of reactions in your body and is essential for nerve and muscle function, as well as energy production. Coconut water brings about 15% of magnesium and 6% of calcium daily requirements. 

Natural Sugars
We use sugars (carbohydrates) for quick energy, but we also lose them after exercise. Coconut water is a great source of natural sugars (from the fruit) to replenish your energy stores without significantly raising blood sugar levels. 

With its super-hydrating ability to replenish minerals and sugars, one may even say coconut water is the perfect “natural hangover cure,” but not saying we’ve tried it before… 

What To Look For When Buying Coconut Water
Ok, now that you know how amazing coconut water is for you, all you have to do is grab one from the shelves, right? Unfortunately, most store-bought coconut waters are far from what you’ve sipped out of a coconut in your tropical vacation. 

Some brands apply heat during the pasteurization process, which destroys most of the nutrients, while other brands add artificial flavors and sweeteners. But not to worry, here are some tips on how to choose a
close-to-natural coconut water:

  1. Read the ingredients: It should say “coconut water” nothing more, nothing less.
  2. Check that the coconut water is not made from concentrate, as this means that high heat was applied (bye bye nutrients) to turn it into a syrup.
  3. Opt for those kept in the refrigerated sections rather than those on the shelves. That’s because a truly raw coconut water is perishable and needs to be kept cold, while those at room temperature have gone through heat treatment, and have added preservatives to extend shelf-life-- so that it can sit there for years...literally.

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

The Wrap
There you have it. Coconut water provides a ton of health and wellness benefits, and when paired with JOI, delivers a creamy and nutritious elixir. We really love Harmless Harvest natural and organic coconut water, but experiment with whatever brand you like as long as you remember to buy refrigerated and with "coconut water" as the only ingredient - you pretty much can't go wrong.  Try our classic nut milk recipe using coconut water instead of filtered water, you’ll thank us after! 


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