The Low Down On Coconut Water


coconut water

Coconut water has been dubbed, “Nature’s Gatorade.”  It is full of potassium, electrolytes and is incredibly hydrating to the body. It doesn’t have all the added colors and sweeteners that leading sports drinks usually have. After long runs or bike rides, I love to use it as the liquid base for my green smoothies.

But WHICH one do you buy?

There are three options when it comes to coconut water: pasteurized, unpasteurized,  or from a young coconut that you get to hacksaw yourself and drain. There are pros and cons to all three.

Pasteurized Coconut Water

Vita coconut water

Pros: This is an incredibly convenient choice. You can find it at Costco (the Vita Coco brand), on, at Asian markets, health food stores and some major grocery stores.  It is also cheaper than the other three choices.

Cons: To make the coconut water shelf-stable for longer periods of time they pasteurize it. The heat from the pasteurization kills a lot of the goodness in the coconut water. I couldn’t find in my research how much of the nutrients are actually killed though.Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut water

Unpasteurized Coconut Water

Pros: Already packaged for you, this choice is a time saver for a busy mom. Loaded with all the vitamins in tact, it hasn’t been heat treated and is completely raw. I did a taste test between all three to see if I could taste the difference, and this one was by far my favorite. I tried the brand Harmless Harvest.  It tasted a little less sweet and even a little saltier, but very fresh. I bought mine at Real Foods Market, but Whole Foods carries it too. One more perk is that you are supporting a small, ethically run company.

Cons: Although this is an awesome choice for a busy mom, the downside is that it is expensive! Save up your grocery money because I spent almost 5 dollars for a bottle of it. I could taste a distinct difference between the pasteurized and the unpasteurized though.  



Coconut Water From A Young Coconut

Pros: This by far is the most fun!  It fulfills my dream of surviving on a desert island.  I almost got to live that dream on my honeymoon to Thailand. I am about to tell a story here, so if you want just the facts about coconut water you might want to skip ahead 🙂 .

So true story, Scotty and I took all our wedding money for dishes and other practical, boring house stuff and spent it on a seven-week honeymoon to Thailand! It was the best money ever spent:).  My favorite place of the whole trip was to Koh Bulon, a tiny magical island that we hear had sea gypsies on it. We took three local buses (a crazy experience) and a couple of boats to get there. Oh my goodness, talk about paradise on earth. There weren’t even roads, it was seriously magical. While we were staying on the island we talked a sweet old Thai man into letting us rent his kayak for a couple of days. We could see an island in the distance that was deserted, and we wanted to go see what was there.

So we packed a toothbrush and one or two things, and headed out! The island was what I had dreamed of — vibrant snorkeling, huge dragon-like lizards, and the funniest/most nerve-racking part of the island … a colony of rats that tried to attack us while we slept on the beach! That is a story for another day … oh wow that was a crazy tangent.

This little adventure is the closest I will ever get to having survived on a deserted island. Now that I am a mom and a little more grounded, opening up a young Thai coconut in my kitchen is about as adventurous as I get nowadays… well, until September when we might take the whole family to Sri Lanka (we are still figuring this one out).

Back to young coconuts and coconut water :). There is something so fun and adventurous about cracking open your own coconut. Another perk is you get to use the coconut meat inside, which is fun for making all sorts of creamy treats. Here is how you open the coconut … a three minute video of a girl trying it for the first time.

Cons: It requires time and a sharp knife, two things that are usually in short supply at my house. Another con is that to preserve the coconuts they dip them in sodium metabisulfite solution, a food grade preservative. Also a rumor has been circulating that young coconuts have been dipped in formaldehyde to preserve them. I looked into this one more because I don’t want to drink formaldehyde water, thankfully the claims aren’t true.

I am not thrilled about dipping them in preservatives, BUT I did read that the coconut shell is impenetrable so it doesn’t actually affect the water or the young coconut meat. I am also very grateful they aren’t being dipped in formaldehyde. So rest assured, you can hack away to your heart’s content and reap the benefits of fresh coconut water.

So there are your options when it comes to coconut water.  I like to drink it plain or add them to my smoothies.  I have noticed it really helps if you are backed up as well, if you know what I mean :).  One last thing if coconut water is not in your budget don’t stress you can get those same benefits from eating bananas for potassium, or drinking water to hydrate you, or even sprinkling sea salt on your oatmeal to replenish sodium lost.



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12 Responses to The Low Down On Coconut Water

  1. Jenny says:

    Haha! This reminds me of the time that you, me and Mills found a coconut on the beach in Thailand and tried (and I think succeeded) at getting the husk off, but couldn’t crack open the nut. So hilarious.
    Sri Lanka!!! That’s awesome. I want to hear more.

    • Hannah says:

      The inner shell of young coconuts have what some call a face on one part- two spots for eyes and one for a nose. One of them is a little soft, so you can actually use a chunk of the husk to penetrate it, and get the water out that way. I learned this from the locals after living on a tiny little island in the Pacific (Kiribati).

      • admin says:

        Hannah-Thanks! Good to know. That is a lot easier than a sharp knife. That sounds like an amazing island. How is the Pacific? I want to take my family to travel somewhere and we can’t decide where to go?

        • Hannah says:

          The Pacific is beautiful. Kiribati is extremely remote and pretty difficult to get to (flights in from Fiji only twice a week, usually), so it’s challenging unless you have a good 3-4 weeks to travel. BUT, the remoteness makes it fairly untouched. The beaches are empty, the people are incredibly generous and kind, and the traditional culture is very strong. It’s not a resort-type of place (stay in Fiji if you want that, or electricity), it’s more a rustic camping type of place. Unforgettable in every sense of the word.

          Fiji is also gorgeous and has a greater range of development (luxury resort to remote island camping), with some similar cultural values and very kind people as well. You can’t go wrong with tropical beaches!

  2. I love how adventurous you are! We still have yet to go on a honeymoon though Matt says next year we are for sure going somewhere…ten years later is never too late! 😉 Though I doubt I’d be brave enough to talk someone into renting their kayak and dodging rats. Ha ha ha!
    Kristi@Visible Voice recently posted…Exciting things!My Profile

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  4. Kelley says:

    Have you tried the dehydrated coconut water? The one brand I’ve seen is Big Tree Farms brand. I’d be interested in trying it but, I wasn’t sure if something would be lost in the process of dehydrating. Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. my page says:

    whoa, thank you very much for posting this! It is gonna help when I order wheatgrassat the market! Super Terrific!

  6. jason says:

    “I couldn’t find in my research how much of the nutrients are actually killed though.”

    Isn’t that kind of central to your argument though? I see lots of people making claims about the risks of drinking pasteurized coconut water, but nobody seems to explain specifically what benefits we might be losing….anyone?

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  8. I arrived at your website out of concerns over metabisulfites side effects.Thanks and especially so for the bonus story.Email me if you ever publish it. It was very heart warming. Thanks again.

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