Praised as more beneficial than many other staple foods, coconuts have been the go-to product for anyone who cares about their well-being. How could it not? With the promise of an abundance of hydrating minerals, coconuts (whether it’d be the water, flour, oil, etc.) seems like a healthier alternative for what we commonly use or consume.
For example, the gluten-free community has been flocking to use coconut flour, the beauty industry uses coconut balms and oil for skin pampering, and athletes savor the post-workout coconut beverages.
But there’s a huge BUT. As other delicious and nutritious beverage sources emerge (who said cactus water!), it seems coconuts are about to totter down as everyone’s favorite drink. And it’s not for lack of reasons.
In fact, coconuts appear to be less optimal than previously thought; plus, its farming leaves a massive scar on the biodiversity and local and global climate. Here’s why you should look for an alternative if you want to find a more sustainable source of energy.
More coconuts, more fuel to consume
The life of a juicy coconut and its water that you gulp down after a workout starts at one of a handful of farms in Indonesia, the Philippines, or India. Small family coconut farms in these three countries make up around 70% of the coconut output worldwide.
And while we won’t bore you down with the dynamics of transport and trade, one thing’s for sure – coconuts require a lot of effort to get to where you are. Transporting coconuts leads to higher fuel consumption and increases transport costs significantly.
But there’s more. Since so many people want coconut products, the demand is seriously outpacing the supply, as neither farmers nor coconut trees can keep up with this pace.
As serious coconut farmers plant more and more coconut trees, the need to protect their yield increases. As a result, enter pesticides. Although coconut trees don’t need much to survive, farmers need to resort to pesticides to repel pests and diseases. And this can also affect the quality and health of the coconut yield.
How fare the farmers?
Coconut production doesn’t affect only the environment; it also hits the farmers. While the use of coconut products around the world are going up, local coconut farmers’ income is nose-diving. So much that around 60% of coconut farmers in the Philippines live in conditions of extreme poverty.
Let’s put it this way: for each can of coconut water sold at $1.50 in the US, the local farmer gets about $0.11 to $0.20 per nut. And sadly, that’s just the start of the downward spiral.
The less farmers earn, the poorer the conditions they live in. This forces them to be hellbent on even higher coconut production. But since they have no funds to invest back into coconuts, this seriously endangers the local coconut trees population. Simply put, coconut trees are exhausted.
Coconuts make your bad cholesterol go up
There’s no doubt that coconuts offer ample health benefits. A single spoon of coconut oil provides 490kJ (117 calories), 13.6g total fat (11.8g saturated fat), with no protein or carbohydrates. However, while coconuts are good post-workout fuel, they are abundant in saturated fats. Yes, coconut oil does raise the good cholesterol (HDL), but the fatty acids in coconut push the infamous LDL (bad cholesterol) up as well.
We need to talk about potassium
A sip of coconut water may be a revitalizing post-workout drink and relatively easy to get hooked on, for that matter. But, what’s often overlooked is that the coconut is high in potassium. Although potassium is a vital mineral and electrolyte for our daily bodily functions, drinking too much coconut water (that is, regularly after each workout), may result in too much potassium in your blood.
While potassium typically leaves the blood through urine, a prolonged period of high potassium can wreak havoc on your kidneys. While coconut water is better than your average soda, you should be careful about the excessive potassium intake, especially those individuals with blood pressure issues
And those calories and sugar, obviously...
It’s the beginning of a new year and we all have our resolutions and intentions for the year. For some, it may be learning a new skill. For others, it could be a plan to change a bad habit and start working out more, lose weight and eat healthier.
There is a common misconception that just because something is from a fruit or vegetable, it is automatically healthy.
So if you’re looking to eat and drink healthier, coconut water may not be it. The leading coconut waters have about 70 calories and more than 15g of sugar. In contrast, cactus waters have half the amount of calories and sugar and are packed with antioxidants and electrolytes.
For the love of coconut.
Cactus is the new coconut
As the full side-effects of coconut emerge, including what its consumption does to the body and the environment, nutritionists and athletes turn to other rich sources of energy.
And while cacti’s rough appearance may seem like an unlikely choice, their nutritional benefits do wonders for our well-being. In the debate on cactus water vs. coconut water, the prickly pear cactus water is a clear winner. But it’s not just what we think, it’s the research and science that matters.
Cactus water not only prevents dehydration, but it’s brimming with natural antioxidants like vitamin C, betalains, polyphenols and flavonoids, to name a few.
Combine the health benefits of cactus water with cacti's sustainable planting with a less damaging mark on the environment, plus its watermelon + bubblegum taste, and you’ve found yourself a new healthy, refreshing, and YUMMY drink!
Want to get a taste of cactus water? Pricklee Superfruit Water comes in three different flavors, each including the cactus superfruit: original prickly pear, mango ginger, and strawberry hibiscus. Check them out!