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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things You Should Know Thursday

Merrill Lynch is reporting that within 5 years, the U.S. coconut water industry went from ZERO to $35 million! So, what's this coconut water craze all about and is it worth the hype?

Claims are being made that it can improve circulation, slow aging, fight viruses, boost immunity and reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. What's fact, what's fiction and what's still unknown about this new fad?

Here's the facts:
Coconut water is fat-free, cholesterol-free and full of potassium (569 mg per serving). That's 15 times more potassium than the average sports drink and twice as much as a banana.

Coconut water is low in sodium - 160 mg.

Potassium helps regulate blood pressure by counteracting the stiumulating effects of sodium.

Gatorade contains 52.5 mg of potassium and 192.5 mg sodium.

Claims as mentioned above are based on preliminary studies done on lab rats and in test tubes where they specifically look at the antioxidants found in the plant chemicals in the coconut water.

Coconut water naturally contains 50-60 calories and 11-12 g of sugar per serving.

After a low intensity workout coconut water is fine but after a hard intensity workout it's more important to replace sodium in your body than potassium. "Even though the belief is that when you exercise you need a lot of potassium, sodium is more important. When you sweat, you lose a lot more sodium than potassium." Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition and UC Davis.

Andrea Giancoli, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, suggested that regular water is just fine for most people post workout because most people don't work out heavily enough for a sports recovery drink. She did most Americans are not getting enough fruits and vegetables and therefore not enough potassium in their diets. This is where coconut water finds it's place in our daily intake.

So, after all the reserach I've done on coconut water, including it's cost (approximately $2-3 a bottle) my conclusion is this: as long as I'm getting enough vegetables and fruits in my diet and replacing my sodium, water and potassium loss after exercise it's not necessary for me to spend that much on coconut water. A banana and regular water are just fine for low intensity days and to recover from harder workouts I'll choose a high carbohydrate/sodium snack or a sports drink full of electrolytes and the right amount of sodium/potassium. As further studies are done on the antioxidants and their effects on humans, it'll be interesting to see what happens to the coconut water industry that's expected to continue growing by leaps and bounds the next few years.

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