Buying Guide for Coconut Water
Why buy coconut water?
While it’s essential to drink plenty of water daily, it’s easy to grow bored with drinking plain water day in and day out. Natural coconut water is an excellent alternative if you want to mix things up or add some flavor to your water without adding any preservatives, fake sugars, or additives. It brings coconut’s sweet, nutty flavor to your water in a way that’s 100% natural since it’s derived directly from coconuts rather than being a processed byproduct. Coconut water doesn’t just contribute more flavor to your drinking habits either; it brings along some of the nutrients and vitamins found in coconut. Coconut water contains some electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, making it a good post-workout or post-exercise choice if you’re not fond of sports drinks.
What should you look for in coconut water?
- Ingredients: But sure to carefully read the ingredients label of any coconut water you buy; not all coconut waters that advertise themselves as “100% coconut water” or “all-natural” actually fit this bill. Ideally, natural coconut water should be the only ingredient. Be sure it’s made from real coconuts rather than concentrate. To be safe, ensure that the bottle or can provide specifics it’s not made from concentrate. If you want the benefits of coconut juice but not the extra calories and sugar of most fruit juices, avoid any options with added sugars, preservatives, sweeteners, or other additives.
- Quantity: Do you want a single bottle, a can, a packet of coconut water, or a pack of them? If you plan to mainly use the coconut water to mix with other drinks, put in smoothies, or fill up your water bottle, a single large bottle of coconut water you keep in your fridge will probably suit your needs nicely. If you want to bring coconut water on the go, you may want to grab a pack of individual cans or bottles that are more portable.
- Pulp vs. No Pulp: As with orange juice and many other fruit juices, coconut water can be bought with or without pulp. This comes purely down to personal preference. If you like pulpier orange juice, you’ll probably enjoy coconut water with pulp, too, and vice versa. It also depends on how much you like the flavor of coconut, as coconut water with pulp will have a bit of a stronger coconut taste than those without.
How is coconut water different from coconut milk?
Both are harvested directly from coconuts, but there is one key difference between coconut water and coconut milk. Coconut water is the clear fluid found inside coconuts; though it’s called coconut water, it’s more like a juice. (Though it does contain a lot of actual water.) Coconut milk, on the other hand, is an artificial combination of coconut water and grated coconut. Hence, coconut milk has far more fat and calories, is white rather than semi-clear in color, and has a thicker consistency than coconut water alone. Coconut water is the better choice if you want a low-calorie, low-fat drink with some sweetness and flavor. It also has less sugar and carbs than coconut milk. Coconut milk is an excellent substitute for cow’s milk for lactose intolerant people, and it makes a great thickener in sauces and stews.
Our Picks for the Best Coconut Water
Vita Coco Pure Organic Coconut Water
This 12-pack of coconut water is certified organic, so you know it's free of harmful toxins and pesticides.
Pros: This coconut water is the real deal. As stated on the label, it’s made from the real deal, directly from coconuts rather than concentrate. Not only that, but it’s organic coconut water without the usual price tag associated with organic food and drink, especially since you get a bulk pack with 12 containers of coconut water per order. The resealable containers are slightly larger than average—11.1 fluid ounces compared to the usual serving size of eight fluid ounces, so you get a bit of extra organic coconut water for quite a reasonable price. The containers are recyclable once you’ve drank up all the water, making this a more eco-friendly choice.
Cons: There is a little bit of added sugar in this product. There’s not a lot, only a gram, but it has a higher sugar content than most coconut water.
Bottom Line: Organic coconut water is always an ideal choice when possible; as you know, it’s free of any traces of pesticides and chemicals in non-organic products. This coconut water is not only certified organic, but it’s a rare case where you aren’t paying an arm and a leg extra for an organic product.
Zico 100% Coconut Water Drink
This pure coconut water comes in larger containers with two servings per bottle and no added sugars or preservatives.
Pros: Not only are these coconut waters all-natural and made from the real thing, not concentrate, but they have no added sugars and preservatives. Coconut water is the only ingredient; you can get all the nutrients and electrolytes it provides without a higher sugar content or fake additives. Each bottle has been pasteurized to ensure it’s safe to drink and extend its shelf life. You get 12 bottles in each pack containing 16 ounces of coconut water, meaning there are two servings per bottle.
Cons: Though you get good value for your money with the size of the bottles, this carton is a bit pricier than the average 12-pack of coconut waters.
Bottom Line: If you want some accessible coconut water to grab and take on the go, this bottled pack will be perfect for your lifestyle. With the larger bottles, you’ll be able to keep hydrated all day.
Laird Superfood HYDRATE Coconut Water Powder
If you'd rather supplement your smoothies or beverages with coconut water than drink it straight, this powder version has you covered.
Pros: This is coconut water with a twist— actual coconut water that has been freeze-dried with aquamin (calcified sea algae) for some extra calcium and iron. That’s the only additional ingredient, though. There’s no added sugar, chemicals, additives, or other artificial ingredients. The powdered, freeze-dried aspect means that it has fewer calories than regular coconut water and longer shelf life; it’ll last much longer than normal coconut water. The eight ounces of powder converts into 19 bottles of coconut water for a low price, so you get a good bang for your buck. There are two alternate, more flavorful options available for purchase too.
Cons: Though the nutritional aspects of the coconut water are retained during the freeze-drying process, the powder won’t be as flavorful as standard coconut water. Especially since you’ll have to dilute it with regular water to make an actual drink.
Bottom Line: If you only enjoy coconut water occasionally and are worried about it expiring before you drink it all, this powder makes for an excellent alternative. It’s also great for adding some electrolytes and extra sweetness to smoothies and other mixed drinks.
Iberia Coconut Water with Pulp
This pulpy coconut water comes in more giant cans and higher quantity than most, ensuring you get the best possible value for your money.
Pros: If you prefer cans to bottles, you’ll love this sweet, flavorful, pulpy coconut water, especially since you get great bang for your buck. It’s a bulk pack of 24 cans—twice the amount of cans as most standard sets—and each contains 10.5 fluid ounces rather than eight fluid ounces. You get a higher volume of cans, and each has a slightly higher amount of coconut water. Each can contains pulp, ideal for pulp lovers, which also helps give it a sweeter, stronger coconut flavoring than plain coconut water. If you chill the cans ahead of time, the metal of the can keeps the water colder than plastic bottles or containers.
Cons: As is a typical downside of cans, you can’t reseal them. These also have some added sugar and thus a high sugar content than pure coconut water.
Bottom Line: We all want to ensure that we’re getting the best possible value for our purchases, and with this coconut water, you’ll get exactly that. Between the slightly larger serving size and the high quantity of cans per pack, you’re getting a higher volume of coconut water for a similar amount of money that a usual carton costs.
365 by Whole Foods Market Coconut Water
This large batch of organic coconut water will taste fresh from the fruit without any added sugars.
Pros: This is the product for you if you’re looking for one large container of coconut water rather than a bulk pack of individual bottles or cans. It’s not made from concentrate and has no added sugars or preservatives. The only ingredient is pure, 100% organic coconut water. You get four servings of coconut water per container for a lower price than any bulk pack will cost you. It’s also been cold-pressed and pasteurized for a longer, stable shelf-life; it’ll last about nine months on the shelf before being opened.
Cons: Though the unopened shelf life of this coconut water is pretty good, it’s relatively short-lived once it’s been opened. The container material is softer than a bottle or can, so there is a risk of getting punctured and leaking.
Bottom Line: This is smooth, refreshing coconut water that’ll taste equally great when drunk straight or mixed with fruit in a smoothie to make coconut rice and more. The resealable, twist topped container allows you to take as much or as little coconut water as you want at once and then save the rest for later.
Finding a tasty drink that is nice and sweet without being loaded with sugar and calories is not an easy task, but coconut water fits the bill admirably. It’s more flavorful and has more nutrients than plain water but still hydrates and replenishes.