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August 9 , 2011

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Green coconuts contain raw coconut water. Once the liquid is packaged, though, it needs to be pasteurized. Tung Photo | Fotolia.

WHAT IT IS: Liquid from the interior of immature (green) coconuts.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: The terms “coconut water” and “coconut juice” are used interchangeably for a watery liquid that is about 46 calories a cup (there are variations by brand and flavored coconut waters are higher). Much higher-calorie products are coconut nectar, a sap from the tree (analogous to maple syrup); coconut milk, pressed from the dried meat of the mature coconut; and coconut cream, a thicker version of coconut milk (less moisture).
WHY WE LOVE IT: Another option for a refreshing drink that’s low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals.
WHERE TO BUY IT: At retailers nationwide.

 

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.Page 2: Types Of Coconut

Water ~ Raw Coconut Water, Flavored Coconut Water, Concentrate & Powder

  • Jump to the article index below


Raw Vs. Pasteurized Coconut Water

If you drink your coconut water straight from the coconut, you’re drinking a raw product. But once it becomes packaged, the coconut water is no longer raw.

The FDA mandates that shelf-stable* bottled, canned or otherwise packaged drinks sold in the U.S. be pasteurized. You’ll see statements on coconut water websites that products have been “flash pasteurized” or “gently pasteurized,” but they’re still heated way beyond the 118°F that defines raw food.

*Shelf stable products do not require refrigeration as long as they are “on the shelf.” Some categories of food, including juice, will deteriorate after opening and need to be refrigerated to keep their freshness (and prevent the growth of mold).


Raw Coconut Water

I have been able to find four sources for raw coconut water:

  • Body Ecology sells frozen, raw, organic coconut water. I was unable to find any for my taste test, and the company declined to send a sample.
  • FreshJuiceDelivery.com sells coconut water that isn’t pasteurized. It’s shipped via express mail with ice packs; consumers must refrigerate it upon delivery, and drink it “immediately.” Repeated attempts to contact this company went unanswered, so we couldn’t taste it, either.
  • Florida-Coconuts.com will ship young, green coconuts so that you can drink raw coconut water directly from the source. (But you’ll need a machete—see the video.) Although I contacted this business more than once, I received no response.
  • Harmless Harvest. Just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to try a coconut water that hadn’t been pasteurized, I found Harmless Harvest. At this writing, this is a new, very small business. They sell a raw, certified organic coconut water that must be kept refrigerated. It is not pasteurized in the traditional manner. Instead, a method of destruction of pathogens (bacteria unfriendly to humans) relatively new to the food industry, called HPP or High Pressure Processing, is used. The high pressure works by damaging the outer cell membranes of pathogens, which ultimately destroys them. Yet damage to the product undergoing treatment, such as change in taste or aroma, is minimal. Here’s more on this technique.

 

Continued below.

     

INDEX OF REVIEW

This is Page 2 of a seven-page article. Click on the black links to visit related pages:

MORE TO DISCOVER

Flavored Coconut Water

While all manufacturers offer a plain coconut water, this is America, The Land of Too Many Choices. So you have numerous options; not just in brands of “original” flavor coconut water, but in flavors galore.

Because it does not have a strong taste of its own (it’s very delicate but very pleasant), coconut water is often combined with fruit purées, fruit essences, fruit juices or other flavorings.

Flavors range from O.N.E.’s Pink Guava, to Amy & Brian’s Coconut Water with Lime, to Taste Nirvana’s variation containing coconut pulp, to Zico’s Chocolate.

As you might expect, some of the flavorings increase the beverage’s sugar and calorie count. (Plain coconut water is diabetic-friendly, since it contains lower-glycemic fructose instead of sucrose.)

 

Zico’s chocolate coconut water gets five-star reviews on Amazon.

Coconut “Sports” Water

With all the vitamins, minerals and electrolytes that occur naturally in coconut water (see Page 4), you’d think it’s a natural for sports drinks. And you’d  be correct.

The line between “nature’s sports drink” and more traditional sports drinks is blurring rapidly.

  • O.N.E. has developed a line of flavored coconut waters, O.N.E. Active, that contains added antioxidants, calcium, catuaba bark, gingko biloba and panax ginseng.
  • Arizona Beverage Company has teamed up with Twinlab to produce Blueberry Coconut Rescue Water, a blend of coconut water concentrate, B vitamins, green tea extract, and 2.24 grams per eight-ounce serving of their own “Electrolytes Blend.”
 

Drink coconut water after a workout. Photo courtesy O.N.E.

  • Phenom Water uses GNC vitamins and minerals in a “supercharged” coconut water. Some variations of this drink also include taurine and caffeine. It “replaces water lost during exercise” and has “17 times more potassium per serving than leading super hydration drinks.”
  • Modjo, a Florida-based company, sells Modjo Hydrate Elite, with ingredients such as evaporated cane juice, coconut water concentrate and sea salt (I found out about this product too late to include it in my taste tests, but you can check it out at Modjolife.com. Reviews of the other brands begin on Page 5.)

Coconut Water “Not From Concentrate”

Concentrate on this: Some coconut waters blazon “Not From Concentrate” on their labels. That means that, as with orange juice, numerous brands are made “from concentrate.” Should this make a difference to you, the consumer?

  • Less Processing Is Better. As a rule, any beverage not from concentrate should have undergone less processing, and any processing will affect taste and probably nutrition.
  • But It’s Still Pasteurized. On the other hand, since all shelf-stable coconut waters must be pasteurized (by heating), some of the delicate flavors and nutrients are lost in the process. Another thing to consider is that most coconut waters (as well as fresh young coconuts) are imported into the U.S. from tropical countries, usually in the hold of a container ship that can get pretty hot. So it may not be possible to distinguish between from-concentrate and not-from-concentrate pasteurized coconut waters, as far as nutrition or taste are concerned.
  • Look For Added Vitamins & Minerals. Some coconut waters have added vitamins and minerals. The labels are only required by law to list four key nutrients: calcium, iron and vitamins A and C. So you won’t know how much magnesium, manganese, potassium etc. is inside.

Summary: Determining how, or if, using a concentrate affects nutrition can be difficult without extensive lab testing of all the players.

 

Take a Powder, Help The Environment

Several brands of coconut water are sold in the form of a dehydrated powder, to be “instantly” reconstituted in water.

  • One brand is sold only in Germany, another only in the U.K., and I was unable to obtain samples of a third, Nature’s Guru, which is sold at some Whole  Foods Markets (store finder).
  • Repeated attempts to contact another manufacturer, Blue Monkey, proved fruitless—no pun intended.
  • However, I was able to obtain CocoHydro, an instant coconut water sold by Big Tree Farms. It is reviewed on Page 5.

The convenience factor of a packet of instant coconut water mix is obvious. But powdered brands want you to also consider the environment.


The CocoHydro website contains a page discussing the fact that shipping a beverage halfway around the world requires a large consumption of natural resources. (The same argument is made for imported bottled water.)

But the powdered coconut water was not as well-received in the taste tests as other products. So, as much as some of people may want to help the environment, they may not do it at the expense of taste.

 

Coco Hydro Coconut Water Mix

Tote a lightweight packet and mix it with water. Photo courtesy CocoHydro.

 

A final environmental note: Some liquid coconut waters do not come in recyclable packaging; but many have changed over to recyclable containers, or will be converting to them.




Continue To Page 3: Coconut Water Health Benefits

Go To The Article Index Above


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