(ARTICLE REPOSTED FROM METRO, 23rd May, 2010)
Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/lifestyle/827437-why-celebrities-are-shelling-out-on-coconut-water#ixzz1sgE8HoEG
“Health-conscious celebrities are going mad for coconut water. Metro finds out more about the drink of the summer.
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 among celebrities, 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 (below, from £1.49 for 330ml), thanks to its popularity with celebrities including True Blood actress Anna Paquin, Courteney Cox, Star Trek star Chris Pine, Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick and Jessica Simpson, all of whom have been snapped with a carton. And it doesn’t stop there: Madonna has reportedly ploughed $1.5million into the company, along with fellow investors such as Demi Moore, Matthew McConaughey and Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis.
Given these celebrities are better known for their bodies beautiful (even Kiedis is a vegetarian meditation devotee) than their investments, there must be more to the coconut water trend than the mere vagaries of fashion.
Susie Perry, a nutritional therapist who has worked with the likes of Yvette Fielding, Amanda Lamb and Claire Sweeney, says: ‘It’s beneficial to our bodies because it contains a lot of natural electrolytes. As a nutritionist, I like it because it’s a low-sugar, fast-hydrating drink.’
Electrolytes 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.
Perry says: ‘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.’
Nutritionist Lorna Driver-Davies, from Nutri Centre, agrees, saying these electrolytes ‘rehydrate the body and reduce feeling of fatigue’ after exercise.
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.
Perry explains: ‘Although drinking water can hydrate you, it doesn’t have that speed of hydration [of coconut water] because it doesn’t have the electrolytes in it. You can compare coconut water to a sports drink but without all the caffeine and sugar in it.’
Those electrolytes can also prevent muscles from going into cramps and spasms. But beware of drinking too much – it can also have a laxative effect.
Laxative qualities aside, it’s also being touted as an aid to slimming – or, at least, reducing fluid retention. ‘If someone has a high-salt diet they’ll retain a lot of water – getting potassium into the body reduces water retention, so in that sense it can help,’ Perry says. ‘Also, potassium is very important to the cell membrane; it acts like a key opening up cell receptors so that nutrients and water can go in and out of the cells at appropriate times and amounts. And so, potassium can help with the communication that has an impact on metabolism.’
Of course, coconut water is no magic potion – if you want to shed a few pounds, you’re better off relying on it to quench your thirst after regular exercise. Although it may not contain as many ingredients as your average energy drink, the coconut does have a few tucked away beneath that thick shell.
Driver-Davies explains: ‘Coconut water contains high levels of lauric acid, which the body uses to make monolaurin, a disease-fighting fatty acid derivative. Lauric acid has anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties that protect the body against various infections and boost the immune system.’
Coconut water has also been claimed to help lower blood pressure, fight cellulite, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, keep you cool, improve circulation, regulate digestion and ease stomach pain – in fact, if you believe it all, it’s the best thing to come out of the tropics since the Bounty bar.”