Celebs can't stop drinking it, and neither can the rest of us: Coconut water is flying off shelves, with the biggest US maker reporting its sales jumped from $4 million in 2007 to $20 million last year. The beverage, which costs as much as $3 for 11 ounces, is touted as being low-cal and electrolyte-packed—so is it the hot and healthy new natural alternative to Gatorade? Not exactly, writes Kiera Butler for Mother Jones. Turns out coconut water is heavy on potassium and light on sodium, the reverse of sports drinks' blend—and it's sodium you lose as you sweat.
That makes it fine for casual exercisers (who actually may need only water). "That most coconut waters contain only one ingredient is a nice plus, especially considering the strange hues and artificial flavors common in sports drinks," writes Butler. But marathoners may want to stick to the fruit-punch-flavored stuff. So what about the natural part? Traditional coconut farming is fairly easy on the planet and rarely requires pesticides, though shipping it from as far away as Indonesia unravels some of the environmental goodness. But greenies, be warned: O.N.E. has ties to PepsiCo, and Coca-Cola has invested in Zico, making Vita Coco the only major independent brand.