Coconut Water Not All It's Cracked Up to Be

Thanks to aggressive marketing and Hollywood trendsetting, coconut water has exploded in popularity seemingly overnight -- but its claims to be nature's health beverage is being met with more than a little skepticism by scientists.

"There's nothing magical about coconut water," Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at University of California Davis, told the Los Angeles Times.

Coconut water manufacturers claim the drink is a fat-free, low-calorie, electrolyte-filled beverage helps improve circulation, slow aging, fight viruses, boost immunity and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Fitness junkies say they like it because it's a natural alternative to sports drinks without artifical colors or preservatives.

But it's ultimately not for athletes engages in intensive training because it does not have enough carbohydrates and sodium, which are essential for recovery following hardcore training, according to the LA Times.

Coconut water also contains very little protein. After a hard workout, you typically need at least 15 to 17 grams of protein, but a cup of coconut water has less than 2 grams.

Coconut water may only be marginally better than plain water at rehydrating, and its health claims haven't been proved in any reliable study on humans. Plus, the sugar and calories in them (about 50 per serving) can add up.

And at about $2 a bottle, any possible benefits don't justify the cost. Coconut water is fine for casual athletes and people who just like the taste, the LA Times said, but there are much cheaper ways to rehydrate and restore electrolytes -- like having a water and a banana.

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