A couple of summers ago I was traveling with a street hippie named Michael in the Peruvian region of Junín. We had just descended from the mountains into the jungle and I was struggling to adjust to the heat and humidity. Michael suggested we refresh ourselves and try some masato, a local fermented yuca drink. I was slightly wary because I had heard that the fermentation process involved saliva, but since I love fermented foods, I took a swig of the viscous, pink liquid anyway. It was NOT delicious, but I was still dehydrated and determined to wash down the sour masato. Then, I found my salvation in a coconut! Michael had climbed up a tree and thrown down a few yellow coconuts so that we could poke holes in them to and get to the slightly sweet, faintly coconut-scented water inside. “Nature’s sports drink” was exactly what I needed on that hot, sweaty day in the jungle.
Coconut water, the liquid from young coconuts (not to be confused with coconut milk which is expressed from the flesh of mature coconuts) is one of the world’s most nutritious beverages. An 11 fluid ounce serving contains 80 calories, 18 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fat, and 660 mg of potassium (that’s fifty percent more than a banana!). With the perfect balance of electrolytes and carbohydrates to replenish fluids lost during exercise, coconut water makes an excellent replacement for artificially flavored sports drinks, like Gatorade. It contains just enough sugar to re-energize you and more magnesium, calcium, and potassium than your average sports beverage. These important electrolytes ensure proper muscle function and prevent cramping. Coconut water has also been touted as a tonic with detoxifying, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties.
Back in the States you don’t have to climb a tree to get coconut water; just hit up your local grocery store. New York-based company Vita Coco brings coconut water to the American market in their all natural, preservative and additive free coconut water. Their coconuts are harvested in northern Brazil from green coconuts when the water is at is its peak flavor and nutritional value. It is available in eight different flavors included pineapple, peach & mango, and their number one seller 100% pure coconut water.
Heading out for a summer bike ride? Grab a Tetra Pak of Vita Coco’s coconut water and stay hydrated!