Is Your Coconut Water A Source Of Hidden Sugar?

New York Times bestselling author By Sarah Wilson
New York Times bestselling author
Sarah Wilson is a journalist, entrepreneur, and the New York Times best-selling author.

In a coconut shell… Yes.

There is in fact sugar in coconut water.

All coconuts contain sugar. How much they contain depends on the type of coconut and its age. Something to note though, even the coconuts with the higher levels of sugar still only contain around 2.95ml of sugar per 100ml, which is not a lot. (It's best to stay under 4.7ml of sugar per 100ml.) Of course, a bottle of coconut water — which is how most of us get our coconut water — is generally about 300ml. So. In one bottle there can be up to 9g of sugar, which is a little over 2 teaspoons.

But how much of that is fructose?

Well. Not so much. And this is what counts. A Brazilian study found the sugar content of an average baby coconut to be made up of:

  • Glucose 50%
  • Sucrose 35%
  • Fructose 15%

So fructose makes up a maximum of 32% of the total sugars (remember: sucrose is 50/50 fructose and glucose), and often a lot less (depending on the age of the coconut).

All of which means that when you look at that total sugar value on the label, it’s a little misleading. Unlike Coke or fruit juice, in which half (or more) of the sugar content is fructose, coconut water’s sugar content is mostly glucose (which is fine, metabolically speaking).

Can we still drink it?

Yep. Go for it. The amount of fructose is minimal. But do check the label, and think about keeping your intake to about 200ml (a small cup). Oh, and don’t drink the favored ones … the fruit pulp turns it into a fructose fusion!

If you're buying a coconut, go for the younger ones.

The concentration of sugars in the water of a coconut increases in the early months of maturation. This process slowly falls back again at full maturity of the coconut. But, as the coconut ages, there’s less water. So, if you’re buying a whole baby (green) coconut, pick a fresh one between 4 – 6 months, if you have the choice.

Do you drink coconut water? Any particular recipes you love?

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