Ever since humans worked out how to crack that thick, fibrous husk, coconut water has been quenching the thirst of the sun-drenched tropics. But with the secret finally out, this looks like being the summer we all go crazy for the stuff.
In the 12 weeks up to April, one brand reported a 600 per cent jump in sales on the previous quarter, a leap that reflects the sudden buzz surrounding a drink that has been around for millennia.
In its native lands, the coconut palm is known as ‘the tree of life’ because it has so many uses, from root to spiky crown.
Most people are familiar with coconut cream – so delicious, so fatty – but what we don’t often see in Britain is coconut water, which comes from younger, green fruit.
In the past couple of years, however, US and European markets have started to cotton on to the benefits of this new so-called wonder drink.
Several brands have appeared on the shelves but the one that’s making its mark is Vita Coco thanks to its popularity with a plethora of celebrities. Madonna (the material girl indeed) has reportedly ploughed $1.5million into the company, along with fellow investors such as Demi Moore and Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis.
Coconut water is packed with naturally occuring electrolytes with 20 times the potassium of a leading sports drink. Eloctrolytes are minerals that are vital for bodily functions such as muscle movement, nerve transmission and brain operation, and coconut water contains five essential examples: potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium and phosphorous.
Potassium is one of the most important electrolytes there is. One of its important is to help maintain water balance – a good level of potassium helps you to maintain water pressure within a cell and water pressure within the blood. So, as it can help draw water into cells and into the blood, it enables the body to rehydrate quickly.’
A 330ml serving of pure coconut water contains more potassium than two bananas. This hydrating aspect explains why coconut water is gaining popularity as an alternative to sports drinks such as Lucozade.
A study of post-exercise rehydration carried out by the Universiti Sains Malaysia compared coconut water, sports drinks and normal water. It found coconut water was ‘significantly sweeter, caused less nausea, fullness and no stomach upset’, concluding that it was the best option for thirsty athletes. Maybe it won’t be too ambitious to picture coconut water being handed out on Olympic racetracks in the very near future!