I’ve got a lovely bunch of (watery) coconuts.

Coconut water seems to be the hydration-of-the-hip. I know this because I now regularly see fit-looking people with bottles of this elixir sticking out of their tote-bags and backpacks. Many of them are coming or going from a gym when sighted.

Those of us for whom Diet Pepsi remains the electrolyte-replacement beverage of choice tend to hide the bottles, not use them as accessories.

Various health-food grocery stores have been pushing the stuff for some time now.  And, it’s gone mainstream. I’m not sure, but I think I spotted some next to the Beer Nuts in the gas station mini-mart the other day. (Beer nuts have a lot of protein, by the way.)

I went looking for some info on this coconut water, and immediately stumbled over a factoid that will come in handy should anyone at the gym ever strike up some small talk with me.:

Coconut water is not coconut milk.

This seems obvious now that I think of it, but it wasn’t until an expert told me so. Coconut water is the liquid you see inside a coconut. (If the last time you saw a coconut was in a Trader Vic’s lounge, think hard.)

It comes out of young coconuts, making it sort of like veal, only not mean-spirited. The marketers of coconut water have been careful to avoid mentioning this similarity, which is wise. Apparently it is easy to get the coconut to part with its liquid center. There’s an expression in Haiti used to describe something that goes smoothly: “easy as coconut milk.”

It’s got a ton of potassium, meaning we all now can name two things with a lot of potassium, the other item being bananas. Sodium is actually a good thing for serious workout types and coconut water has quite a bit, but less than most sports drinks. So despite the attraction for the workout-gear-wearing set, boring old Gatorade is probably better for replacing the stuff lost in a real workout. (Mother Jones told readers this last summer. No one listened.)

Coconut water also has been shown to lower some kinds of cholesterol in rats, which is good news for them.

Wikipedia adds this: “There have been cases where coconut water has been used as an intravenous hydration fluid in some developing countries where medical saline was unavailable.”  The site does not mention that whiskey has also been used when medical saline was not available in those developing countries, primarily in US military hospitals.

A company called Zico has cornered the market on the stuff—or more to the point,  the social-marketing expert there knows how to work Google, but good. The Zico folks seem like nice people, despite the slightly scary looking tab on their website called “the pledge” which is just a way to get on their mailing list and get announcements about new uses for coconut water.

I’m heartened to discover that this stuff is not just for yuppies. The National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins drink it. If it’s good enough for the House that Orr Built, it must be okay.

–Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett


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