Coconut water is one of the most refreshing and hydrating beverages around, thanks to its high electrolyte contents. It contains a number of nutrients that are crucial for us — it's very high in potassium, which helps stabilize blood pressure and fluid balance within the body, and can even prevent headaches and cramps.
Organic and raw coconut water is the best bet, when available. Organic raw coconut water contains living enzymes, which aid digestion and metabolism. It also contains complex B-vitamins and amino acids. Its high hydration quotient comes from calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium.
Not so long ago, a craving for coconut water might have required a plane ticket to Thailand or the Caribbean. Now, it's everywhere — even at your corner drugstore. Of course, as with any popular product, the options are plenty and growing, so we consulted over 20 nutritionists to find out which their favorite brands are and why.
Image: Fotolia/ Brent Hofacker
A fresh, young coconut
The real thing can’t be beat. “It’s unaltered and unprocessed, so all the minerals and enzymes are intact. And it’s delicious!” Van Wyk says.
“The water from a young coconut is fresh. The coconut meat can be eaten afterwards for a healthy dessert,” Shanti Pappas, holistic health coach, says.
Invo Coconut Water
Invo Coconut Water is made from fresh young Thai coconuts. It’s sold commercially, which, as with most options, means high pressure processing (HPP) is used. HPP is much better than heat pasteurization, the other common process by which consumer products are made to last longer.
HPP extends shelf-life with no heat, making it a better option. Invo makes pure coconut water (nothing added) and coconut water with fresh juices added — one with Thai lime juice and one with pineapple.
If you can’t get your hands on a fresh coconut — or you just want a more gym bag-friendly option, I counted nine experts who recommend Harmless Harvest above all else. And with good reason. First of all, this stuff is omg-I’m-done!? levels of delicious and refreshing.
It’s considered raw — a perk amongst store-bought options, though it’s not 100% unprocessed. “It has been HPP processed to prolong it’s shelf life,” Katrine Van Wyk, certified health coach, says.
Nutritionist Nikki Ostrower also cites Harmless Harvest’s low levels of processing, and says, “It quenches your thirst with lots of vitamins and minerals — and an authentic taste.” Nutritionist Sally Kravich notes coconut water is a great source of electrolytes. Holistic Health Practioner Carol Wasserman says it’s the only one that tastes anything like the real thing.
“You know it has no preservatives because it will turn pink over time. This is a normal and natural occurrence due to the high levels of antioxidants, and is totally safe,” says Day.
Finally, Lee notes that Harmless Harvest is organic and harvested in a sustainable way, i.e., without pesticides or pollutants.”
Taste Nirvana Real Coconut Water
Another repeated preference is Taste Nirvana’s coconut water.
“A rare option with pulp,” nutrition and health expert Keren Day says. “Also, it comes in a glass jar, which I always feel better drinking out of.” Nutritionist Molly Lee likes it for its “clean taste and large chunks of actual coconut floating around inside.”
Juice Press Coconut Water
Another raw, fresh pick favored by Van Wyk and Jessica Katz, RD is the one sold at Juice Press.”The whole bottle is 100 calories and offers 6 grams (!) of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 14 grams of sugar, which while high, is half of other brands,” Katz says.
While coconut water is a good source of electrolytes, and a very refreshing beverage in general, don’t replace good old H20 entirely. “Coconut water does contain some sodium to balance the potassium,” Katz notes, “this brand is also not pasteurized.”
Juice Press notes that all supermarket coconut water is preserved via HPP — “this is raw and unprocessed, flown in from Thailand, frozen and thawed by us,” the company said.
Exotic Superfoods Coconut Water is a little harder to find, but can be ordered online. It is absolutely one of the sweetest, most refreshing, and delicious options available. It is also raw, making it truly one of the healthiest, and maximizing the benefits of the healthy enzymes and nutrients found in coconuts. Exotic Superfoods coconut water has no artificial chemicals, sugars, colors, preservatives, or flavors. There is no concentrate and no heating involved.
Amy & Brian Coconut Juice (Same as Water!)
Amy & Brian Coconut Juice is bottled, in cans, in Thailand. It’s not organic, but does come from coconuts grown without pesticides. There is an option with pulp and a one without. It’s also a more affordable option than some other coconut waters on the market. It is, however, flash pasteurized.
”We flash pasteurize our products for safety. Without pasteurization, the product would ferment in the cans in transit. Flash pasteurization, also called “High Temperature Short Time” processing, is a method of heat pasteurization of perishable beverages like fruit and vegetable juices. Compared to other pasteurization processes, it maintains color and flavor better. It is done prior to filling into containers in order to kill spoilage microorganisms to make the products safer and extend their shelf life,” the company said.
Organic Avenue Coconut Water
Organic Avenue Coconut Water is flown in from Thailand where the coconuts are sweetest. It is just coconut water and nothing else, making it a fresh, top-notch option.
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