Hot Topics: Coconut water sales soar despite questions about health benefitsYou’ve probably seen them in the grocery store – cans of coconut water with their come-hither photos of young, green coconuts, tops sheared off, a straw poking out, and blue and green boxes that evoke cool, tropical breezes.
By: Source: “The Salt” blog on NPR.org, INFORUM
You’ve probably seen them in the grocery store – cans of coconut water with their come-hither photos of young, green coconuts, tops sheared off, a straw poking out, and blue and green boxes that evoke cool, tropical breezes.
But nationwide, boxes and cans of the newly touted “natural” sports drink are now proliferating on supermarket shelves, in specialty food stores and yoga studios. U.S. coconut water sales doubled in 2011, and will reach an estimated
$110 million in sales this year. And, according to market research, the demand is likely to continue.
But is it really any better for you than plain old water?
Coconut water contains two minerals that help balance fluids in the body, sodium and potassium. “The big deal about coconut water is that it packs a potassium punch,” says Andrea Giancoli, registered dietitian and spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It’s a natural source, she adds.
Potassium is important for heart health, she says, regulating blood pressure and other body systems. But coconut water is “not magical,” says Giancoli. People do not need to drink coconut water in order to be healthy, she says. “There’s plenty of potassium in food, and if you eat a healthy diet, you’ll get all you need.” Potassium-rich foods include bananas, potatoes, kidney beans, lentils, spinach and papaya.
Nutritionist Monica Reinagel says when you get potassium from your normal diet, you get lots of other good stuff too, including “vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.” A shot of potassium is fine, says Reinagel but “I’d hate to see coconut water touted as the primary source of potassium,” because there are lots of other sources that provide lots more benefit.
What SheSays: It’s not like coconut water is bad for you, so if you enjoy it (and want to splurge on it), we say go for it.
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