In recent years, coconut water, the juice from young, green coconuts, has been marketed as nature's great hydrator, the all-natural alternative to electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks. But according to a recent study by independent laboratory ConsumerLab, coconut water might not be as good for us as we think.

Huffington Post reports that ConsumerLab tested three prominent coconut water brands and found that only one, Zico Natural Pure Premium Coconut Water, had an electrolyte content equal to popular sports drinks.  Sodium, an electrolyte commonly lost through sweat, is the key ingredient here. According to Consumer Lab, Zico has 160 miligrams of sodium per serving compared to sports drinks such as original Gatorade, which contains about 110 miligrams of sodium per cup.

The two other coconut water brands tested, Vita Coco and O.N.E. Cococnut Water, contained less sodium and magnesium than advertised.

Of course replacing electrolytes is really only an concern for those who participate in demanding exercises that cause the body to sweat profusely like hot yoga, long- distance running and the like. For athletes of this calibre, replacing lost sodium is the most important part of rehydrating, but if your exercise routine falls into the mild to moderate realm, replacing electrolytes isn't as crucial -- regular old water will get the job done. And more cheaply.

While all coconut waters might not have the rehydrating qualities of regular sports drinks, one thing they do have over the green and orange stuff is a high potassium content, about 25 percent more than a banana. However, many nutritionists say that coconut water is not a good substitute for an actual piece of fruit.

The bottom line? If you're looking for a super-hydrating, post-workout beverage, be sure to check the coconut water's label for sodium counts, or just opt for a sports drink. But if you just like the taste of coconut water and want a little extra potassium in your diet, drink up!

Check out the slideshow above to find recipes that give you the benefits of coconut!

 

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