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FRESH In: Coconut Water – Nature’s Sports Drink

A few years ago, if you wanted to drink coconut water, you needed to go to the tropics, and find a guy to whack off the top of a green coconut so you could drink the clear, light liquid within. Not anymore.

About five or six years ago, companies like Vita Coco and Zico brought coconut water beverages to the mainstream. The big selling point? It’s packed with potassium and electrolytes yet it’s fat-free and relatively low in calories. So it makes a great, more natural sports drink.

Coconut water is not to be confused with coconut milk (creamy, rich, used in curries and desserts) or coconut cream (the sweet cream that makes pina coladas so yummy.) Instead, it’s the juice inside young, green coconuts. (The “meat” of coconuts develops as the coconuts mature and the juice evaporates.)

In tropical places, people drink this water from a straw inserted right into the coconut shell. But since a whole coconut wouldn’t fit very well inside your gym bag, American companies have created coconut water beverages that look and are served like regular sports drinks.

An average serving of coconut water offers almost twice as much potassium as a banana, one of the most potassium-rich foods, and more than 10 times as much as other kinds of of sports drinks. Potassium is an athlete’s friend, as it helps prevent cramping.  Coconut water also provides electrolytes, which help your body stay hydrated during exercise, and several minerals.

But it’s not high-calorie like soft drinks or some other water-based beverages. A 14-ounce bottle of Zico Limon Citron has only about 60 calories, and some varieties have even less.  (Zico Mango, with a slight tropical flavor, has only 44 calories per bottle.)

FRESH now carries several brands of coconut water, including the popular Zico and Vita Coco. Refreshing, healthy, and you no longer need to find some guy with a machete.  Try one before your next workout.

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