We will soon be entering the time of the year that the Late July Snack Company refers to as the “sweet spot of summer”. July is our warmest month and a time when adults and children are busy working or playing outside. Whether you are hiking, biking, gardening, landscaping or even just strolling along a beach, the mid-summer heat poses the most serious hydration situation of the year. Water and essential electrolytes lost in perspiration must be replaced or critical health consequences will ensue.
We are constantly deluged with ad campaigns for Gatorades, Powerades, and even lemonades with nary a drop of real lemon in them. These so called “Ades” are marketed as superior hydrating agents for professional athletes and weekend warriors alike. Yes, they have water and electrolytes but why the insidious extras: artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and excess sugar? Put aside the “high-tech” formulations and let the simplicity of nature’s gift from the coconut palm tree be your hydration salvation. Coconut water has been utilized by indigenous people in tropical climes for centuries and has become a mainstream beverage here in the states. Coconut water is an isotonic liquid meaning that it has the same osmotic pressure and mineral salt concentration as our cells and blood. It is because of this property that coconut water has been used in emergency situations as an intravenous plasma replacement. It is an excellent source of two essential electrolytes, potassium and magnesium, which many people are deficient in. Coconut water also contains significant amounts of calcium, manganese and sodium. Coconut water is considered to be a cardio-protective food because the electrolytes, particularly potassium and magnesium, can help regulate blood pressure, improve circulation and prevent heart attacks. It is also one of the richest dietary sources of a class of plant hormones called cytokinins. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, the cytokinins found in coconut water may exert an anti-aging effect on human cells and may reduce the risk of blood clots due to their anti-thrombolytic properties.
One of the few criticisms against coconut water as an electrolyte replacement fluid is that it may not contain enough sodium if someone has been perspiring heavily due to extreme physical exertion. This can be remedied by adding a pinch of salt to an 8oz serving of coconut water. There is no contest when comparing 8oz of coconut water to an equal amount of Gatorade. Coconut water has 15-20 times more potassium and less than half the amount of sugar. Gatorade contains no magnesium or manganese while coconut water provides at least 15% of the Daily Value for both. Gatorade has a paltry 2mg of calcium while coconut water registers 58mg per 8oz serving. When it comes to hydration, it’s see you later, who needs the gator!