Yogi Diet: To Coconut Water or Not to Coconut Water…

So I’m in my post-practice hovercraft state of mind, driving home this morning, when I hear this story on NPR about coconut water. So much for bliss.

While the story does start with a biker touting the benefits of real coconut water—that is, right out of the coconut—the main point of the story seems to be this bit of wisdom from a nutritionist:

People do not need to drink coconut water in order to be healthy, she says. “There’s plenty of potassium in food and if you eat a healthy diet, you’ll get all you need.” Potassium rich foods include bananas, potatoes, kidney beans, lentils, spinach and papaya.

A few things about the story reflect the basic shortcomings of media coverage of diet. First, there’s the sweeping generalization tendency: Of course people don’t need to drink coconut water to be healthy. This statement is, to put it bluntly, stupid. Where was the copy editor in this moment?

Also, the drive to “get a source” can sometimes override common sense. I don’t know about you, but post-practice, there’s nothing I like better than a bowl of potassium-rich kidney beans.


The other aspect of the story in need of correction is calling coconut water a “craze” when people have been drinking coconut water for ages. The “craze,” of course, is in highly-advertised, processed, packaged and prominently placed coconut water products, like this:

Are you “naturally powered?” Via zico.com.

Now, let’s follow a basic tenant of whole foods and recognize that if it needs a package, it’s processed. Something has to be done to it to keep it from fermenting or going rancid. Whatever that “thing” that’s done doesn’t have to be on the package (although “homogenized” seems to be a selling point with milk). This, on the other hand, comes in a natural wrapping and has no ingredients list or brand name:

Via wewantraw.com

What it doesn’t have is convenience: It won’t fit in my cup holder. It does have the added benefit, though, of being in a biodegradable package (“unneeded waste” doesn’t seem to be in the NPR story).

The nutritionist is right in one respect, and brings me to my biggest peeve when it comes to coconut water. Coconuts are a mainstay in our diet in The Countdown household. I make noodles out of the flesh. I use it as a thickener. I also just take out a spoon and eat it. Why do yogis just drink the water? Do you know what tasty goodness is waiting for you and your spoon underneath that straw?

So, while the story points out correctly that most people don’t exercise enough to justify coconut water (just plain water would work fine), Ashtangis do exercise enough. But while I’ve seen young coconuts getting passed around at workshops and some yoga studios, I rarely see them get cracked open for the meat, which has all kinds of added benefits that just get wasted when you toss it out.

Step away from the package and get the real thing. And don’t fear the machete, people! As a community service, The Confluence Countdown offers you this instructional video on how to crack open a coconut from Healthy Diet Dude (although I would like to say it’s a point of pride that Steve can do it in four blows):

Posted by Bobbie

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

5 thoughts on “Yogi Diet: To Coconut Water or Not to Coconut Water…”

  1. It’s SOOOOO much work! That guy made it look a lot easier than i found it to be – I’d take a finger off if I tried to hack at it like that. The meat is SO good though – if only my neighbors didn’t complain about the noise from me trying to hack them open with a knife/hammer!

    1. I haven’t watched this video — I hate watching videos online — but the trick is, especially with a heavy enough knife (and better a square machete, as Bobbie mentioned), using what I’d call the base of the knife. Aim for a few inches above the handle so there’s as much force behind it.

      One. Two. Three. Four. Open coconut! 🙂


    2. Practice and all is coming! Also, using the butt of the knife is key. Seriously, Steve can do it in four blows. Also, I like to put a dishtowel under it to keep it steady, and I hold it from the bottom to keep my fingers out of harm’s way!

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