Coconut water can be found on every supermarket shelf in America. It's considered a healthier replacement for sports drinks, more hydrating than regular water, and even a tasty ingredient to blend with your favorite liquor for a healthy-ish cocktail. Coconut water margaritas anyone?
While most sports drinks are full of sugar and additives, coconut water replenishes your body with electrolytes without any extra chemicals or unnatural ingredients. That is if you're buying a coconut water brand that's still good for you. Not all coconut water is created equal or sourced sustainably. In fact, some are downright bad for your health AND for the environment.
Next time you reach for a refreshing drink of coconut water keep these tips in mind:
Look for coconut water that is the least processed and still has most of the nutrients intact. Why? The Scientific Journal of Molecules found that coconut water helps prevent heart attacks, can lower high blood pressure, has serious anti-aging effects, fights free radicals which reduces cancer risks, and contains trans-zeatin which can help treat Alzheimer's disease. In order to reap all of coconut water's health benefits, it's best to drink it in its raw form.
Because we can't all crack open a fresh coconut every day, make sure the brands you're buying aren't heat-pasteurized at high temperatures. Some coconut water brands use heat-pasteurization to kill bacteria and extend shelf life, but this process also kills off most of the nutrition. There's a better way to pasteurize that keeps the health benefits intact. Look for brands that use high-pressure processing instead. You'll see HPP on the label.
You also want to avoid coconut water that has puree listed in the ingredients. The only ingredient you should see on the back of the label is coconut water and maybe one or two other natural additives. If you see puree, avoid it at all costs. It usually means a lot of added sugars and preservatives.
Here are the healthiest and most sustainable brands of coconut water on the market:
Harmless Organic Coconut WaterHarmless Harvest
This organic coconut brand envisions a world where nutritious, clean, organic, and healthy food are the rule rather than the exception. Harmless Harvest believes in treating their employees fairly and sourcing the coconuts as sustainably as possible. The coconuts are sourced in Thailand using traditional agricultural methods and community-centered farming initiatives. No high heat is involved in the pasteurization process either, just high pressure, leaving all the nutrients intact.
Harmless Harvest Organic Raw Coconut Water 16oz: $4.49 per bottle
Taste Nirvana Real Coconut Water
Taste Nirvana Real Coconut WaterTaste Nirvana
Taste Nirvana claims it has the best tasting coconut water for sale. It's a family owned operation that bottles it's coconut water in small batches within hours of harvesting the coconuts. The taste is seriously refreshing.
Run by a Thai father and son team, Taste Nirvana employs local Thai coconut farmers. They use premium Thai Nan Ham Coconuts, which are considered to be the sweetest and most nutritious in the world. This coconut water is also bottled in glass, making it 100% recyclable.
Taste Nirvana Real All Natural Coconut Water: $2.51 per bottle
Vital Young Coconut WaterVital Juice Co.
Vital Juice Co adds absolutely nothing but young coconut water to it's refreshing beverage. Their coconut water is never heated or frozen during the process of harvesting to grocery store. It's left raw, delicious, and nutritious.
It can be harder to find this brand in typical grocery stores unless you live in a major city. You can buy it in bulk online though. It's one of the pricer coconut waters on the market, but it's also one of the healthiest.
Vital Juice Co Coconut Water: $59.88 for 12 pack of 10oz bottles
Munkijo Organic Coconut Water
100% Organic Coconut WaterMunkijo
This organic coconut water is sourced in the Philippines, the largest exporter of coconuts in the world. Coconuts from the Philippines are less sweet than those from Thailand, making this a good option if you don't enjoy overly sweat beverages.
Munkijo 100% Organic Coconut Water: $26.95 for a case of 12
Rebel Kitchen Coconut Water
100% Organic Coconut WaterRebel Kitchen
Rebel kitchen is one of the newest coconut water brands to hit stores. It's a U.K based brand that sources it's coconut from small farms in the Philippines. They also use non-thermal, high pressure processing instead of heat-pasteurization.
Similar to Munkijo coconut water, it has a refreshing but less sweet taste than other Thai-based brands. This coconut water is currently only available for purchase in stores. It'll be available to order from the Rebel Kitchen website soon!
Rebel Kitchen Coconut Water: $4.00 per bottle
The Coconut Water Brands to Avoid:
Natural Coconut WaterVita Coco
This brand claims it 100% pure but the coconut water undergoes high heat-pasteurization that kills almost all of the nutrients. Vita Coco also adds sweeteners to their coconut water so it isn't exactly "100% pure". Steer clear from their coffee/coconut water fusion drink. It's full of carragean, an emulsifier that destroys your healthy gut.
You've probably seen this coconut water brand on super market shelves. It's one of the most popular brands on the market. That's because it's manufactured by the Coca-Cola company, who's a huge fan of GMO's. Zico coconut water is made from a heat-pasteurized concentrate. If you prefer healthy coconut water with all of its nutrients intact, steer clear.
Coconut WaterNaked Pepsi Co
This Pepsi co brand is involved in a class action lawsuit for deceptive labeling. While the name may suggest that Naked Coconut Water is pure and organic, Pepsi Co has been called out for using GMO's under false organic labeling before. Whether the claims are true or not, it's most definitely heat-pasteurized, which is reason enough to avoid this product.
There are so many delicious way to enjoy coconut water aside from just drinking it raw. Try adding some to your morning smoothies, whipping up a fruity cocktail, or using it to sweeten your iced-coffee. You can even add it to curry and soups in place of regular water for more flavor and nutrition. Here's are 12 refreshing coconut water recipes to try this summer from Well + Good.