Coconut Water — A Great Way to Diet… and Hydrate

If you’ve ever vacationed in the tropics, you’ve probably seen people drinking from what looks like peeled coconuts with straws inserted. Now I’m finding more and more skinned coconuts in the fruit and vegetable section of grocery stores. Chop off the top, insert a straw and drink up. Coconut water is becoming so popular that there is now a whole bunch of canned coconut water drinks on the market.

So what’s the deal with coconut water?

Well, I can’t speak to the dozens of pre-packaged products that are showing up (usually sold in cans), but I can tell you what’s found inside the actual coconut. And it’s a nutritional bonanza that could easily be a boon to people trying to control their weight.

One cup of real coconut water contains a measly 46 calories. (Remember, I’m talking about the liquid that occurs naturally inside the coconut, not some “coconut milk” sweetened product — that’s a whole different animal.) It also contains a surprisingly high 3 grams of dietary fiber and 2 grams of protein. Best of all, it’s a fabulous source of potassium — way better than a banana.

Two companies that are marketing excellent commercial products are O.N.E. and Zico, both of which make convenient one-serving containers that are perfect for travel and for the gym. While neither has any fiber, they both contain a whopping 670 mg of potassium as well as four other essential electrolytes.

Both taste great, they’re surprisingly filling and refreshing, and best of all, each contains only 60 calories per serving, way less than the typical “sports drink.”

Lots of nutrients for a very small number of calories. That profile definitely makes it a great drink for a weight management program.

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Health Topic: Diet and Nutrition


  1. Piper says:

    What you forgot to mention is that the after-taste of coconut water is very FUNKY. But it looks like Zico came out with some mango and passion fruit flavours which allow me to enjoy it a lot more. I can’t remember what brands I tried before, but they both came in cans and were awful-tasting.

  2. Andrew Sauchelli says:

    Do know of any freeze dried or powered coconut water?

  3. Grace says:

    Wow-great article, I would never have guessed that it could be so good for you.

  4. Mona Benjamin says:

    Dr Bowden could have done some basic research before writing this article, in my opinion. What he refers to as “skinned” coconuts are actually YOUNG coconuts. It is when coconuts AGE that they shrink and develop the brown fibrous exterior that they are usually more recognised by.

    He then talks about the water that occurs “naturally” and not some “sweetened milk” product sold in cans. But it is as the coconut ages that the water naturally converts to milk, which is why you cannot obtain water from old coconuts. The milk he sneers at IS a natural product and is used regularly in Oriential and Indonesian cooking in its natural, unsweetened form. This is how it is sold in a can. Unsweetened. Unless Dr Bowden shops in confectionary outlets, I have never seen a can of sweetened coconut milk. It is a savoury product. It is not a coconut-flavoured version of condensed milk.

    And no, you cannot purchase the actual water in freeze dried or powdered form. It is only the milk or the interior of older coconut that you can get in dried or desiccated form. The reason coconut water is so expensive is that young coconuts are hard to collect; the trees are so high that it is a perilous job to pull the young fruit off the trees. As they age, they fall naturally which is why the old (fibrous) coconuts are so much cheaper.

  5. Kathryn Ryan says:

    Commentor Mona Benjamin is a little misinformed.

    Yes, young green coconuts are the source of coconut water. However, supermarkets are in fact selling “skinned” cocnuts (the green outer shell is peeled off, and what’s left is shaved to a sort of pointed end, which you cut off to reveal the hole through which you can extract the coconut wter with a straw.

    There is indeed a canned product labeled as “coconut milk” that is liquified coconut meat that has sugar added to it. I see it all the time in supermarkets.

    So before YOU do some sneering of your own, Ms. Mona, please do YOUR research.

  6. rene says:

    Ms. Benjamin is a LOT misinformed. Thank you Ms. Ryan. Another error is about how coconut MILK is made. It is NOT from the coconut water as it ages. It is from the jello like substance ( meat) in the young coconut that then become hard. That hard “meat” still contains coconut WATER inside it although the flavour will have changed. It is that hard “meat” that is processed to become coconut MILK. In Jamaica where I am from, the meat is grated, water added and “MILK” is then squeezed from that mixture. It is that same hard meat that is shredded to make topping for cake or candy.

    All the canned coconut water I have tried tastes horrible to me. I drink a bottled one ” Agua de Coco” bottled in Jamaica. In my opinion it comes closest to the “straight from the coconut taste.” They say it has no preservatives, no additives and they may be right. It comes frozen and if you leave it out until it is room temperature it will quickly spoil. I order it by the case and drink it instead of water ( I don’t like water). The funky taste Piper mentioned may be from preservatives or processing of other brands. Really Agua de coco comes very close to a pure taste.
    BTW the picture that comes with the article is misleading. When you open the old/dried coconut you will not see a white milk-like liquid coming out. The liquid will be basically colourless whether young or old.

  7. thymian says:

    healthy food is always one of the best way to come out from any problem. I am always stick to healthy food. Thank you very much for giving a healthy article to us. I will follow it whenever I need it.

  8. Bob Pritchard says:

    Dr Shallenburger’s newsletter recently gave information on the fresh green coconut to make Extra Virgin Coconut oil. Hard to find in the market place. I brought one bottle and I thought it smelled and tasted ok. But my wife (Asian) said NO IT”S gone BAD. Trust me it’s no good.I took 1 tablespoon morning and night then . ?? Well I had a very severe gut reaction . took 4 days to the gut to return to normal. even though I used. Slippery Elm. Aloe Vera and Probiotic capsules. Yes it had spoiled. I must write to the manufactures . I am buying AYAM made in Thyland Coconut cream 100% fresh green coconut. available in supermarkets. But search for it, most are Coconut milk 60% Last 2 tins were the home brand of the supermarket. ?? very dry ?? but ok otherwise. still too early to tell if it is turning my cells to fat burning. & weight loss. Dr Shallenberger recommended the oil coz of its concentration. 3 Tablespoons morning and at night accompanied with a balanced diet and regular exercise. So I will be following up with the health food store that had the oil. Extra Virgin Coconut /olive / Advocado . These are the oils we should be using.
    Short chain fatty acids.

  9. Bob Pritchard says:

    The desiccated coconut and flavourings come from aged and dried coconuts. dried over and huge pit with smokey fire underneath. The the coconut is split and the water is mostly wasted then stacked over the fire.. what you get then is Copra. dirty from the smoke and human hands and touching ground. transport. Etc: needs to be bleached. deodorised and sanitised. Not much good for human consumption. gives a nice flavour in cooking but no Nutritional value.

  10. George says:

    REAL fresh coconut water tastes great and has no aftertaste, I’m not sure about the bottled product. I live in Thailand and have the real thing every morning.
    By the way, it seems impossible to me that coconut water could have any fiber at all – it is just like sweet water – but it does have plenty of potasium.

  11. Alona says:

    I would recomment AROY-D Frozen Young Coconut Juice ( I take 1 for breakfast, 1 for lunch, and eat anything I want at night. After 2 days of doing this, I’ve lost 3 lbs. Thanks!

  12. SBNaturally says:

    I was told that Coconut water in the can is pasteurized even though nothing on the can indicates that it is. Can anybody confirm this?

    Also are most coconut organic or not?

  13. Austine Forester says:

    I am glad to have seen this wonderful article on weight loss. The only issue is that I would want to know from Dr Bowden whether the old coconut fruits can still be effectively use for this purpose; because the young ones from the trees are hard to come by in our area (my location) Please advice me on this.


  14. Tulli says:

    Whatever you do, don’t drink Zico because it’s from concentrate. It’s not worth the calories and it’s not the real deal. I would suggest Vita Coco for all of your coconut water needs.

  15. Peter D says:

    Sorry to interrupt but this is going nowhere.
    DR. Bowden – the ‘peeled coconuts’ with straws inside are the only fruits which can give you water enough to drink and by the way, the peeled coconuts are actually chopped from the top. The ‘skinned coconuts’ you will see at your grocery is actually for cooking purpose (asian dishes)with very little water in it.

    Coconuts grow in phases as below :

    Young coconut : usually green in color and the size of a head, is full of water but not very sweet tasting.

    Young coconut with a creamy lining inside : the water is the same but it starts tasting sweeter :

    Coconut with the fruit inside : the creamy lining expands and firms up to become the fruit. The thicker it gets the lesser the water within but now the water is certainly the sweetest.

    Full grown coconut : The creamy lining has firmed up to a one centimeter layer inside the coconut and now the coconut starts to dry and shrivel.

    After this either the coconut could fall down on the ground or still be attached to the tree but in any case the coconut inside loses moisture and turns into ‘copra’.

    Copra is used for making oils. By the way, unlike olive oil, coconut does not have a virgin and non-virgin categories, it is only the marketeers who use these terms and pulling wool over the eyes.

    Hence coconut water can be extracted from the cocnut while it is still young.

    Coconut milk can be extracted from the fruit ( white in color) which is not yet turned into copra.

    Coconut oil can be extracted when the fruit dries to form the copra.

    As for Mr. Pitchcard, please stay away from coconut oils if you are trying to use in your diet because as I said earlier there is no such thing as virgin or extra virgin stuff going on but rather coconut oil is supposed to be high in cholestrol as compared to olive and avacado and even some of the other regular cooking oils.

    Also Mr. Pitchcard, the process of turning coconut to oil is very simple, you simply leave the coconuts to dry in the sun, crack them open, collect the copra and put it in the processors. I am not sure where you got the huge pit fire idea from but fuming coconuts is certainly not an option.

    The left over stuff after extracting the oil is used for making coconut sweets, sold as dessicated and dried coconut powder.

    Ms. Mona – coconut water certainly is not coconut milk when dried up. Coconut milk is obtained by crushing the coconut and squeezing out the juice while it is still not become copra. We almost use it everyday in our homes for curries.

    Please do not drink the canned coconut water as these crooked marketing companies simply put in sugar water with bits of the coconut fruit in it. By itself, it might be a great drink if you like it but certainly not a substitute for the natural coconut water.

    Thank you

  16. Felicity says:

    Try the “young coconut”, taste of the meat and 8oz(approx) of coconut water is just amazing.
    I’m not sure if other states carry these in the grocery market but here in Los Angeles, Calif are so diverse and easily found in Asian market.

  17. Cory says:

    I stopped drinking sugary sports drinks and switched over to coconut water after hearing that it would help me lose weight. Sure enough, it did! I made the switch a little over a month ago and have lost about 10 lbs… I’ve never felt better! My favorite brand is Vito Coco, it’s all natural and tastes the freshest in comparison to the other brands out there.

  18. Joan says:

    Can alcohol/ethanol be produced from coconut water? Is it possible and will the yield be considerable? I have read another article that coconut water can be made into vinegar. So i guess by fermentation, as it is to make vinegar, ethanol can also be produced from it?

  19. Robert Bowmer says:

    I’ve replaced my usul sports drink for ZICO and i’ve noticed the difference. I don’t get cramp like i use to after a work out.

  20. And one last thing about staying motivated. REWARD your self! It is OK to have your favorite meals as soon as in a whilst. Or to sleep a day or two. Perhaps you really needed it.

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