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Tuesday, September 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Is coconut water worth the cost?

Fad. Fad. Fad. I’ve seen lots of them in my four decades as a doctor. Some are dangerous – such as the high colonic enemas with less than sanitary equipment, which spread infections such as amebic dysentery. I used to think of most of them in no harm, no foul terms until I saw that some of them were foul indeed.

They may not have caused physical harm, but many cause financial harm. And shouldn’t we think about finances when it comes to health? Of course we should. When I see the senior citizen Walmart greeters, I know that some do it for the camaraderie while others do it to supplement their Social Security.

Clearly financial health is one of the missed opportunities that we physicians should be aware of nowadays. Thus, if you buy something that might or might not help your health, you should take the cost and your finances into consideration.

So at 75 cents to $2 per cup, is coconut water really worth it? If it’s a drink that you like, then so be it. It’s more expensive than Coke, but it’s certainly healthier. How healthy is the question.

Coconut water is a cloudy liquid that comes from green coconuts – immature fruits. Coconut milk is whiter and more translucent because it contains more fat.

Coconut water contains a moderate amount of sugar, about 3 teaspoons per cup – 45 calories – with sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. As with most other fruits, it contains vitamin C. As for fat – it’s negligible.

So does it do a better job than water? From a sodium point of view – we get too much sodium in America today, so we don’t need more. As for potassium, it’s rich in that having about as much as a banana or a cup of orange juice, which contains twice the calories.

As for scientific studies, none of any significance. A few small ones designed to sell product.

My spin: I think it’s a reasonable choice for rehydration, similar to an artificial sports drink such as Gatorade, but it’s natural. If you like the taste and the fact that it’s not an industrialized product, then go for it.

Dr. Zorba Paster is a family physician and host of the public radio program “Zorba Paster on Your Health.” He can be reached at

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