Coconut water is one of the high potassium foods. Coconut meat, cream and milk are high potassium foods also. However, the meat, cream and milk are also high in saturated fat. This is not true for coconut water, though.
There has been a lot of hype about coconut water in the recent past. Even though it has been a staple in Asia and the Caribbean for quite a while, coconut water began to be featured in the American news recently. About a year and a half ago some celebrities began being used in promotions and then the mainstream media, such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times began to feature articles. Throwing out the excessive claims and the extremely negative articles, coconut water does appear to have a place for rehydrating you after a vigorous activity. It also can be used as an easy day to day source of potassium, although multiple foods are a less expensive source.
Most of us are deficient in potassium. The average American gets less than half the recommended daily amount. For most of us a good way to rehydrate after strenuous physical activity would include a high potassium drink, such as coconut water. Because we start out deficient in potassium, we would be helping to improve the deficit, even though more sodium than potassium is lost in sweat. For those of us in good health with a good potassium intake daily, it still would be safe since there is no upper limit of consumption known to be unsafe for potassium obtained through food and drink.
Coconut water is almost purely water with a high potassium load and fairly low sodium load. The amount of potassium is 250 mg per 100 gm, and sodium is 105 mg. It also contains about 4 grams of carbohydrates in 100 gm water. Different brands will vary slightly though. Some have been found to have less sodium than claimed on the label. Since most of us take in considerably more sodium than needed (95% of American males get above the tolerable upper intake level, IOM report), this will probably only make a difference for those who have lost a lot of sweat in their workout. If you have sweated a lot, you will also need to replace sodium.
The hydrating ability of coconut water has been compared to sports drinks and water in recent studies. The sports drinks, such as Gatorade, and coconut water were slightly better than plain water because the electrolytes allow better absorption of the water.
The commercial varieties available in many stores now are Zico Coconut Water, O.N.E. Coconut Water, Vita Coco Coconut Water, Taste Nirvana Coconut Water, Nature Factor Coconut Water, Amy and Brian Coconut Water, Blue Monkey Coconut Water, Grace Coconut Water, VPX Sports Coco Fit. Or many are available online here at Amazon.
Taste differs among the brands. However, each has loyal fans preferring the taste of their favorite brand. The only way to find out which taste you prefer is to try the different brands. Since they do not use sugar or salt to overwhelm the taste, they each have a unique taste.
They are expensive compared to water, but are about the same as sports drinks. Try some yourself for a taste comparison. To completely restore yourself after a sports activity, remember also to take in some source of protein and carbohydrate shortly after your sports activity. Adding these after restoring your electrolytes will allow you to recover more completely.
As always, those on a potassium restricted diet should avoid high potassium foods such as coconut water and carefully monitor their potassium intake.