There is no difference between coconut water and coconut juice, which both refer to the naturally sweet liquid extracted from young coconuts. As you’ll soon learn, there are some products marketed as coconut juice that are not the same as standard coconut juice/water.
It might sound confusing, but don’t worry – we’ll explain it all in this article!
(Plus, at the end, I’ll give you the full details on The Coconut Mama’s pick for best coconut water brand.)
Coconut water/coconut juice vs. coconut milk
The terms coconut water and coconut juice are used interchangeably, so they are the same. Coconut water is the naturally sweet liquid found in young coconuts, which is why some people call it coconut juice.
These two are different from coconut milk, which is a liquid made from heating high-fat coconut pulp. Coconut water/juice is fat-free and a natural source of sugar, while fresh coconut milk is higher in fat without sugar.
Read our in-depth explainer for more on the health benefits of coconut water.
How is coconut water made?
Coconut water is the liquid extracted from the center of young coconuts. Many types of coconut water are pasteurized, which means they’re heated to a high temperature for a short period to kill any bacteria present. Some types of raw coconut water aren’t pasteurized.
Some brands of coconut water add ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to act as a preservative/stabilizer, helping the coconut water have a longer shelf life and prevent discoloration.
You can find unsweetened coconut water (containing only natural sugars), while some varieties have a 1% sugar solution, which is usually not enough to impact the overall sugar content.
Coconut water benefits
Some of the reasons coconut water is popular include:
- A natural source of electrolytes including sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.
- Lower in sugar than sports drinks with electrolytes like Gatorade; one 8-ounce portion of unsweetened coconut water contains 10 grams of natural sugar compared to 14 grams of added sugar in the same portion of Gatorade.
- Might help prevent kidney stones by increasing the urinary excretion of citrate, which can lower your kidney stone risk (study link).
- Lower in calories than other types of fruit juice; one cup of coconut juice contains around 40 calories while one cup of orange juice contains around 110 calories. Lower-calorie beverages can help with weight management or weight loss goals.
Comparing beverages marketed as coconut juice
Some beverages marketed as “coconut juice” might not be 100% coconut water. These drinks may contain more sugar than pure coconut water.
An example of standard coconut water as a baseline:
Vita Coco Original Coconut Water
- Coconut water
- Less than 1% sugar (used to “standardize flavor”, according to the manufacturer)
- Vitamin C
One serving (8 ounces) contains 11 grams of sugar (10 grams are natural sugar and 1 gram is from added sugar).
Let’s compare those ingredients to other products marketed as coconut juice.
FOCO Coconut Juice
- Young coconut juice (90%)
- Young coconut pulp
The sugar content of one bottle of this coconut juice is 24 grams, some of which are from added sugar (added sugars aren’t listed on the nutrition facts label). This product isn’t the same as typical coconut water since it contains much more added sugar than most brands of coconut water.
Amy and Brian Coconut Juice
- Coconut water
- Young coconut pulp
An 8-ounce serving of this coconut juice contains 56 calories and 12 grams of naturally-occurring sugar. This is an example of coconut juice that is the same as coconut water.
Lakewood Organic Coconut Blend
This product comes up in a Google search for “coconut juice” and is a blend of fruit juices and coconut milk. The ingredients of this drink are:
- Filtered water
- Organic pear juice concentrate
- Organic coconut milk (filtered water, organic coconut)
- Organic lemon juice concentrate
- Organic gum arabic
- Xanthan gum
- Sodium alginate
- Organic locust bean
- Organic acerola cherry extract
One cup of this coconut blend contains 18 grams of sugar, none of which are added sugars.
The best coconut water you can buy
As you can see, things get confusing pretty fast – and there’s a lot of work to do to ensure that you buy a quality product.
Fortunately, we’ve done all the hard work for you and identified the best coconut water you can buy. (Spoiler: It’s Harmless Harvest Coconut Water.) Save yourself the time and trouble and get the best that’s out there!
Bottom line: The term “coconut water” and “coconut juice” are interchangeable and refer to pure, minimally processed coconut water with natural sugars. Some products marketed as coconut juice aren’t coconut water/juice, or they can contain more added sugar than is typically added to coconut water/juice.
Yes, you can drink coconut juice every day. Coconut juice is lower in calories and sugar than most types of fruit juice, so it’s fine to drink it every day. If you drink large amounts of coconut juice daily, the calories and sugar can add up and contribute to things such as weight gain, high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, and dental caries (cavities).
Drinks labeled as coconut juice that contain more than 1 gram of added sugar will contribute more calories and sugar than standard coconut water/juice and aren’t as ideal for drinking in large amounts.
Coconut juice/water is a healthy alternative to many other types of drinks, but it’s not necessarily healthier than water. The main benefit of coconut water compared to plain water is its electrolyte content.
Most people don’t need to take additional electrolytes unless they’re having fluid loss from excessive sweating, exercise, vomiting, or diarrhea. That means that water will meet most people’s hydration needs, but coconut water is a good choice if you’re going to be losing more fluids than normal, or if you have an electrolyte imbalance.
Generally coconut water will last 5-7 days in the refrigerator after you’ve opened it. We’ve gone into greater detail in this post on coconut water.
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