Prior to receiving samples of ZICO Coconut Water a few weeks ago I only had one experience with this beverage. Long story short: I was in Houston in the summer. My car broke down. I was walking home, carrying bags. I was hot, sweaty, and thirsty. There was a sketchy looking roadside stand where I man was chopping the tops off of coconuts with a machete. He gave me one. I eagerly drank it, not even aware of what it tasted like. I don’t know if the experience itself of hoofing it that far in the TX summer heat after my car unexpectantly going out of commission was so traumatic that I subconsciously chose to not buy or drink coconut water, but until recently that was the only interaction between myself and coconut water.
Cut to a few weeks ago when the wonderful folks from ZICO sent me some samples of their beverage to try out. I first tried the original ZICO Natural Coconut Water straight out of the box it was shipped in, without refrigerating it, as is suggested. Warm coconut water is not that appealing, FYI. I quickly put the rest in the fridge to come back to after they were chilled. Second attempt at the Natural? Better, but still not something I would want to drink all that often. I found it to have sort of a “thick”, but not “creamy” texture, which was a bit odd. The taste was not what I expected. I thought it would be more “coconuty”, like an Almond Joy or Mounds bar, but since it is the water of the coconut, not the “meat” it is much more subtle. I have a huge sweet tooth so perhaps I was expecting it to be a bit sweeter too? It is a much more mild sweetness than juice or sports drinks, so those of you who are turned off by overly sweet things would probably really like this.
Next, I tried the ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water. I was extremely hesitant to try this one because does drinking cold, chocolate-flavored water sound good to anyone out there? Probably not. I was SERIOUSLY surprised by how GOOD this was! It didn’t taste like hot chocolate powder that had been mixed with too much water and not heated at all (which is what I was thinking it would); but rather rich, indulgent, and not “watery”. It was more like chocolate milk in taste, but less “heavy”. LOVE ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water. I kept the Liter bottle in my fridge and would take some swigs whenever I passed through the kitchen or after coming back inside hot and thirsty from running around with the Oakley dog. Putting on my RD hat here for a second, ZICO Chocolate Coconut Water is a solid choice nutritionally speaking for those who want a chocolate fix without the high caloric content. ZICO Chocolate contains only 110 calories per 14 oz serving, which is MUCH less than a typical chocolate bar. Some of my favorite specialty chocolates actually come in at 250 kcals for just half of a bar! ZICO Chocolate also contains 30% less sugar than most flavored coconut waters and 60% less sugar and calories than leading chocolate milks. Plus, it’s gluten-free and dairy-free so it can be enjoyed by all!
So what do I think about all of the hype and press about coconut water being a better choice than a traditional sports drink? I addressed this issue in a blog post about a year ago. You can find it over on the iRunnerBlog. Essentially coconut waters generally fall short of the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendations in terms of sodium content for athletes in endurance events and intensive workouts lasting greater than 2 hours (abstract). However, very few people exercise at an intensity or for a duration requiring them to adhere to ACSM’s sports nutrition/fluid replacement guidelines, and so coconut water is therefore going to be an appropriate choice (and probably a better choice) than a traditional sports drink for those folks who are not “athletes”, but rather “active”.
In fact, the lower sodium and high potassium content of coconut water may be a good choice to help Americans meet the current Dietary Guidelines. It was recently reported that a very small percentage of the population meets BOTH sodium intake recommendations of <2300 mg/day and potassium intake recommendations of 4700 mg/day (paper). Decreasing the sodium:potassium ratio is now identified as key dietary behavior change needed in this country.
There is another reason why coconut water may be a good choice for those of us exercising. A few studies have documented that consuming coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration, actually resulted in less nausea, less fullness, and less stomach upset, and was rated “easier to consume” by subjects than either plain water or a standard carbohydrate and electrolyte containing sports drink (here and here). One of these studies also tested a sodium-enriched coconut water in addition to plain water, regular coconut water, and standard sports drinks. Their results indicate that the sodium-enriched coconut water was as effective as the standard sports drink for full body rehydration following exercise-induced dehydration and yet was still tolerated just as well as regular coconut water.
So in conclusion, if you enjoy the taste of coconut water and will be more apt to consume it than water or a sports drink in order to replace fluid losses, I say go for….just make sure you snack on something salty as well in order to replace sodium losses. Also, if you are performing lighter intensity physical activity and want to drink something besides water, than coconut water may work for you as well.
Why ZICO Coconut Water? Before ZICO sent me the samples I did some digging. What I found is that in an investigation performed by Consumer Labs of the top coconut water brands, ZICO was the only one whose product actually matched their Nutrition Facts Label. The sodium and magnesium levels of other top coconut waters was signficantly different from what was stated on the label (as much as 82% and 35% lower, respectively). Since the electrolyte content of these drinks is one of the most highly touted aspects, I think it is best to go with a company that has been shown to be most in line with their label!
So, now on to the FUN part where one lucky reader gets some ZICO Coconut Water samples! Winner announced NEXT Friday morning (Eastern Time) (August 31st), so get entered before then!
1. (required) Tell me below in the comments, what tips/tricks do you use to stay hydrated during different seasons?
Each of the optional ones you do will get you an additional entry. Just leave a separate comment por favor!
Disclaimer: ZICO provided me with samples to review and are sponsoring the giveaway. I receive no monetary or other compensation for blogging about this product. Thoughts and opinions are my own.