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Coconut water, which is a kind of coconut "juice," has become one of the most popular rehydration beverages on the planet. Choosing a good brand, however, makes a huge difference in how good it does your body.

All over the world, people are wildly enthusiastic about coconut water. You can even find it for sale in Russia now.

Coconut water has the potential to be the next pomegranate, or mangosteen, or acai berry in the natural foods market. While it's not no-cal or no-carb, it contains an interesting combination of useful fatty acids and just a few carbs, about the same as 4 crackers, sufficiently low-carb that most type 2 diabetics can tolerate it.

What Is Coconut Water?

If you have ever taken a vacation in the tropics, you may have seen people drinking something that looks like watery juice from a coconut. Not to be confused with coconut milk or coconut oil, coconut water is one of the most densely nutrient-packed natural beverages on the planet.

This tropical treat is the liquid that is found naturally in the coconut. Coconut milk has to be extracted from the meat. If you are counting calories to lose weight, you will be happy to know that cup of coconut water contains a measly 46 calories--and 1/3 of those calories come from protein, not carbohydrate. Moreover, that cup of coconut water contains more potassium than a 150-calorie banana.

No Need to Take a Hammer to a Coconut

It used to be that the only way to get the water of a coconut was to crack open your own nuts with a hammer and hope to catch the "juice" inside. Nowadays it is easy to find skinned coconuts in the produce section of major food markets. All you have to do is to slice off the top and stick a straw inside.

There are many  new canned coconut water beverages, each with all the electrolytes you would find in an ordinary sports drink but with a fraction of the sugar. There is no fiber in the water, and the lauric acid associated with immune power is actually found in the meat of the coconut or the creamy coconut oily extracted from coconut meat.

The combination of protein and carbohydrate, however, makes it a good drink for the end of your workout, giving your muscles just a little protein with just a little carbohydrate in a very few calories so they can begin to repair and reshape themselves. For a quick boost of four different electrolytes to help you recover from a hard, sweaty workout, coconut water is hard to beat.

Is Coconut Water a Super-Food?

All of this doesn't mean that coconut water is some kind of super-amazing natural wonder food that cures all diseases, as a few overly enthusiastic writers have suggested. However, there are some less than amazing qualities of coconut water that make it a good choice for hydration after workouts:

  • One study found that women who drink coconut water after they work out have less fluid retention.
  • At least in studies in the laboratory with animals, coconut water offsets some of the hormonal changes caused by high-fat diet.
  • Also in studies in the laboratory with animals, coconut water seems to act as a neurotropic (brain stimulating) and antidepressant agent.

However, choosing the wrong brand of coconut water can cancel out all of these benefits.

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