Is Coconut Water the New Sports Drink?
As more and more people move toward healthier lifestyles, there is a growing number who are turning to coconut water not only as an alternative to high sugar juices but as a post-workout drink. But, are the health benefits of coconut water really what they are believed to be?
"I think that coconut water is a great option or an alternative sports beverage in terms of rehydration not just of water, but of electrolytes and potassium," said Dr. Felicia Stoler, registered dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist.
There are many different types of coconut water available, some of which have added juices and sweeteners, which puts them in a different category.
"Coconut water in and of itself is going to have some carbohydrate in it, which is beneficial. On a cellular level, it becomes glucose, which is what we need for replenishing. We also want to replenish electrolyte content because when we are working out, we are losing electrolytes and you want to replenish what is lost," Stoler said. "I think once in a while for people who don't like to drink plain water, it's a good option in that respect as well."
When comparing coconut water to other sports beverages, research is still being done to see if it has the same capability of rehydration and replenishment.
"When it comes to hydration, I don't think anyone is doubting the benefits of drinking the water aspect of it. The question is whether or not the carbohydrate and electrolyte content is adequate enough," Stoler said. "It also depends on the type of athlete, the type of sport, the length of time they are taking part in that sport and how much fluid they might be losing."
There are also more companies that are beginning to market coconut water to children.
"I think it's a good alternative because it's not quite as sweet and I haven't found any to be sweetened with non-nutritive or artificial sweeteners," Stoler said.