Coconut water has been hot for well over a year now, which has given the food and beverage industry time to bombard local shoppers with an overwhelming amount of choices! How do you figure out which coconut water is best?
I am not a fan of coconut water because the sugar content is so high. Yes, even too much natural sugar is not good for our bodies. Anyway, I went to purchase coconut water because my beau and I tried a fantastic smoothie at the Canyon Ranch containing coconut water, and we plan on replicating it at home. The “calm” smoothie consisted of coconut water, strawberries, pineapple, basil and limes. Obviously a ton of sugar, but DELICIOUS!
Onwards to my coconut water adventure. As I stood before the massive selection of coconut waters at my local Whole Foods, I wondered if all the varieties of natural coconut water (no flavoring) consisted of the same ingredient(s) yielding the same nutritional profile. This is where things got strange. I found 9 coconut waters and all had different nutritional profiles! My thought was, “how can plain coconut water be so different? Isn’t coconut water just the natural liquid produced from coconuts?” Well, let’s take a look.
The 9 brands and their corresponding nutritional profiles for 8 fl oz are:
365 Whole Foods Brand
You can see the variety! Among the 9 brands, Calories per serving range from 60-40, sugars range from 15g-4g, carbs range from 15g-10g, and the list goes on.
The ingredients must be different, right? That would give reason to why the nutritional variations. Wrong – 6 out of the 9 contain the exact same single ingredient – coconut water. So what gives?
I chose the Harvest Bay coconut water as it contained the least amount of sugar at 4 grams. But I am skeptical of the nutritional label’s accuracy since many of the other brands that contained the same ingredient list of only coconut water show between 8g-12g of sugar.
WHAT NOT TO BUY: Don’t choose Coco Libre (contains natural flavors), Vita Coco (contains added fruit sugar and vitamin C) or 365 brand (coconut juice, not water).
Remember, just because these are well-marketed as healthy nutritionally optimal beverages doesn’t mean they are. They all are filled with a lot of natural sugars and no fiber, which leads to blood sugar spikes. Moderation is key, but with coconut water, I’d recommend drinking it only as a treat or not at all!