Last year when I discovered coconut water, the brand I found available was ZICO. Now there are several other brands available and they all work equally well—O.N.E. , Naked, Vita Coco. Because they are all made of 100%pure coconut water, they contain none of the added sugars and calories commonly associated with traditional sports drinks, plus it has low acidity. They also contain the five essential electrolytes that help to keep nerves firing, muscles moving and to help manage stress. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm a profuse sweater when I run. Because of this, hydration is a big problem. I often experience cramping in my calves from the depletion of my electrolytes. I was surprised to discover that Coconut water has a huge amount of potassium (a key electrolyte) even more potassium than a banana and 15 times more than most sports drinks. Potassium helps prevent cramping and promote muscle recovery. Potassium also regulates blood pressure, cardiovascular health and helps you recover more quickly from exercise and stress. In addition to the potassium, coconut water naturally provides sodium, calcium, magnesium, and even a little protein.
Worried the flavor might be too thick or fruity? Don't be. Basically it has the consistency of water with a very slight hint of a coconut flavor. It's not a strong flavor at all. It's also not a sweet flavor.
Be careful when you're shopping for coconut water. Don't confuse coconut water with coconut milk. Coconut water doesn’t contain the fat of coconut milk. The coconut water comes from young green coconuts before they develop the white meat that contains the fat and cholesterol that's found in mature coconuts. 100% coconut water contains no cholesterol.
Several of the brands mentioned above also have versions with other fruit juices such as mango, peach, cranberry. While these may taste good, they're going to have a higher sugar content and probably a lower level of potassium, so be sure to read the nutrition label before buying a mixed variety of coconut water. My experience has only been with 100% coconut water and I'd highly recommend sticking with the 100% coconut water variety as a sports drink.