A coconut craze is upon us – from lip-gloss flavors to fancy drinking water.

Registered dietitian Janet Helm, who writes about "fad-free healthy eating" in her blog called Nutrition Unplugged, notes: "Coconut water has been anointed nature's sports drink, and cartons of the electrolyte-laden liquid are appearing in gyms, yoga studios and the hands of the Hollywood elite." Recent studies show coconut water, not to be confused with its higher-calorie cousins coconut milk and coconut cream, does deliver low-calorie, fat-free sports-drink-like benefits after strenuous exercise.

But you have to like the taste, says Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at the University of California-Davis. Applegate says coconut water, while an excellent source of the electrolyte mineral potassium, is short on sodium, which is the primary nutrient needed for rehydrating post exercise.

But there are points you should know:

  • Cost: Coconut water costs about $3 for an 11-ounce tetra pack.
  • Nutrition: It’s hydrating if you like the taste and price. Coconut water is a clear, thin liquid from inside green or young coconuts. One cup of an unflavored variety contains 20 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 250 milligrams potassium and 150 milligrams sodium.
  • Coconut milk: A thick, white liquid made by extracting some fat from the grated meat of a mature coconut. 197 calories, 20 grams saturated fat per cup. Only 18 milligrams of calcium per cup, compared to 122 milligrams in cow's milk.

– Atlanta Journal-Constitution (MCT)

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