A cool refreshing beverage that’s full of electrolytes, but without any added sugar or chemicals? Seems impossible, but in the case of coconut water that’s exactly what you’re getting. This all-natural electrolyte beverage is taken from the inside of coconut shells. It is a great way to replenish your salt and sugar levels after exercise without consuming unnecessary chemicals.
In most places, you will be able to find coconut water in your local grocery store. It is usually sold in cartons that contain a couple of cups of coconut water. Alternatively, you may be able to find some for a lower price at a local farmers’ market.
If you are not able to find coconut water in your local area, there are several good substitutes that you can try.
- Birch Water
- Maple Water
- Cactus Water
- Diluted Coconut Milk
- Watermelon Water
- Aloe Vera Juice
- Fruit Juice
Coconut Water Overview
Although coconut water has become increasingly popular over the last several years, some people are still very confused as to what coconut water is. Coconut water is the liquid that you find inside young coconuts. Young coconuts are the coconuts that still have the green softer layer on the outside of their durable brown shell.
Chances are, the only coconuts that you have in your local grocery store are mature coconuts with brown shells. These coconuts have the sweetest meat, but a lot of the liquid has already been absorbed making them unsuitable for harvesting coconut water.
However, if your store carries young coconuts, you can harvest your own coconut water at a very low price. You’ll just have to crack the shell open and drain the water out into a container.
One of the biggest benefits of consuming coconut water is that it’s almost like nature’s perfect sports drink. A lot of companies make sports drinks intended to replenish electrolytes after exercise. However, the majority of these drinks contain excessively high levels of sugar and artificial dyes.
Coconut water contains plenty of electrolytes, just without all the extra stuff that your body doesn’t need. Some of the electrolytes that coconut water contains are potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium.
Coconut water has multiple uses as a beverage. Some of the most common ways that people use coconut water are after exercise and to treat dehydration.
After exercise, your body has depleted a lot of its natural electrolyte stores. If you don’t want to consume a commercial sports drink, try using coconut water. It makes a great electrolyte beverage with plenty of potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium to replenish your body’s stores.
Coconut water is also great for treating dehydration after vomiting or diarrhea. The added flavor and sugars can make it easier to tolerate while slowly rehydrating your body.
Can I Use Regular Water Instead of Coconut Water?
If you are simply consuming coconut water as an everyday beverage, you can use regular water instead. However, you won’t be getting the same level of benefits that you receive when you consume coconut water.
Coconut water contains electrolytes like potassium and magnesium that regular water does not. While regular water works for hydrating you on an everyday basis, it won’t replenish your electrolyte stores the way coconut water can. To turn regular water into an electrolyte drink, you’ll need to add supplemental minerals.
What is a Good Substitute for Coconut Water?
Maybe you don’t have access to coconut water in your area, or maybe you just don’t like the faint coconut flavor. Either way, you’ll need a good alternative to nature’s perfect sports drink.
1. Birch Water
One great substitute that a lot of people have never heard of is birch water. This is one of the best substitutes for coconut water as it has a very similar flavor and overall nutritional composition.
To harvest birch water, you have to harvest the sap from the birch tree in early spring. The sap is how the tree stores nutrients to be used during the winter. Spring is the ideal time to harvest it because the tree has already used up all the sap it needs but the sap has yet to be reabsorbed.
When birch water is initially harvested from the tree, it will be a super thin and clear liquid with a light sweet flavor. After a few days, the sap will begin to ferment which can make it taste more acidic. The sap can be used to make various products other than birch water including syrup and wine.
Chances are unless you have a giant grove of birch trees in your backyard, you won’t be able to make your own birch water. Each tree only produces a small amount of sap and you’ll need specialized equipment to extract it.
For this reason, you’ll likely need to purchase your birch water from a store. Keep in mind that some birch water is artificially flavored and contains added sugars. If this is the case, you’ll want to make sure to pick a brand that has as few additives as possible.
You can use birch water in all of the same ways that you use coconut water. With its high electrolyte content, it is another one of nature’s natural sports drinks.
2. Maple Water
Another great substitute for coconut water is maple water. Maple water is made using the same process as birch water and has plenty of electrolytes to keep you hydrated.
To make maple water, you will need a grove of maple trees and during the early spring months, you will need to tap them. This involves inserting a sharp tube into the outside of the tree and allowing the thin sap to slowly drain out.
If you were going to make the sap into maple syrup you would collect it and then boil it down for many hours. This would evaporate a large portion of the liquid, leaving you with just the sugars and minerals that make up maple syrup. Then it is packaged and sold.
Since maple water doesn’t need to be thickened, it is simply filtered and then packaged and sold.
With this alternative, it is unlikely that you will be able to find it in stores unless you live in areas like Vermont where most maple syrup is made. You may be able to special order it online, but that will depend on where you live.
The main difference that you’ll notice between maple water and coconut water is the flavor. Maple water has a distinct maple flavor that is like a super light version of maple syrup. It is typically quite a bit sweeter than coconut water as well so keep that in mind if you prefer less sweet beverages.
You can drink this on its own or blend it into a smoothie to get a great combination of flavors.
3. Cactus Water
If the maple water didn’t sound good to you and you’re really looking for something a bit less sweet, try cactus water.
The cactus is a desert plant that is made to thrive during times of drought. It does this by absorbing large quantities of water when there is rain and then storing it inside the plant. This is why if you’re ever stranded in a desert, it’s recommended to try and get water from cacti that you may find. They have an internal core of water that is typically safe to drink.
The cactus water is harvested in a similar way to the previous two options. The cactus is tapped and then the liquid is allowed to drain out. After it has drained out it is filtered and packaged for sale.
Cactus water is high in electrolytes with plenty of minerals and antioxidants mixed in there. One of the benefits of cactus water is that compared with the other options on this list, it has a much lower sugar content. This makes it a great choice if you are diabetic and want a beverage that you won’t need to calculate into your insulin intake.
Since it has less sugar, cactus will have a less sweet flavor than coconut water and is somewhat earthy. For some people, this can make cactus water difficult to get down on its own. For this reason, a lot of people prefer to mix the cactus water with something else like a smoothie. You can also find some great recipes for cactus cocktails.
It may be difficult to find cactus water in your local stores depending on where you’re located. However, if you live in an area that is surrounded by deserts, chances are you’ll be able to find this product for relatively low prices.
4. Diluted Coconut Milk
If your store does not carry fresh young coconuts, it can be difficult to make your own coconut water. Plus, buying coconut water in cartons can get expensive over time, especially if you are buying it regularly.
Fortunately, even if your store does not carry fresh coconuts for coconut water, chances are they carry coconut milk. Coconut milk is a staple ingredient in many Asian cuisines and is often stored in cans, making it cheap to transport and store.
Coconut milk is made by blending the mature meat from coconuts with fresh coconut water. This creates a liquid that contains all of the fatty deliciousness of the coconut meat while also retaining the refreshing quality of the water.
To make a replacement for coconut water from coconut milk you will want to dilute it. This will help to make the mixture thinner as well as cut down on the sugar and overall caloric content of the coconut milk.
When it is diluted, coconut milk can provide a lot of the same nutrients that make coconut water so desirable. You’ll have plenty of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. However, keep in mind that the overall composition of the coconut water isn’t going to change. You’re still going to get a lot more fat and calories from the coconut milk than you would with coconut water.
This beverage is also going to have a pretty strong coconut flavor. If that isn’t for you, you’re going to want to avoid this substitute.
5. Watermelon Water
Another great alternative to coconut water is watermelon water. Unlike the other options on this list, it’s going to require a bit of preparation and you won’t be able to find it in stores. However, if you’re okay with making it yourself, it doesn’t get much better than this fresh and flavorful substitute.
Watermelon water is a popular beverage for everything from summer beach days to the neighborhood cookout. The watermelon itself has a bright and sweet flavor that is made even better when turned into a refreshing drink on a hot summer day.
There are a couple of different ways to make watermelon water. The easiest way that requires the least equipment is simply soaking the fruit in the water. You’ll want to cut the watermelon into cubes, crush them slightly, then drop them into a large container of water and let it sit in the refrigerator.
After several hours, the flavor and juices from the watermelon will have made their way into the water. This creates a light watermelon flavor that is made even better by the addition of a few mint leaves or a squeeze of citrus.
If you’d like to keep more of the nutrients in the water, you’ll want to use the blending method. For this method to work you’ll need to blend cubes of watermelon with some water. If you want a super sweet beverage, just add a little water. If you want something lighter, add a lot.
After the cubes have been blended into the water you will need to strain them using either a fine sieve or some cheesecloth. This will take out the larger chunks and leave you with delicious watermelon water.
6. Aloe Vera Juice
If you’re looking for a substitute that has more benefits than just being an electrolyte replacement, aloe vera juice is the way to go. Chances are you’ve heard of aloe vera before, but it’s more likely that you’ve heard of it used as a burn treatment for minor burns or sunburns. However, aloe vera has more uses than just that.
When prepared as a juice, aloe vera contains vitamins and minerals that make it great for rehydrating. It is also super easy to prepare at home making it accessible for most people. You’ll just need to buy several large aloe leaves and get your blender ready.
To prepare it as a juice you will simply need to remove the flesh from the leaves of the plant and then blend them with water until a liquid is achieved. To add some extra flavor, feel free to add mint leaves or some lemon juice to your beverage.
An added benefit that many people experience when with aloe vera juice is that it can soothe your digestive system. If you’ve been having an upset stomach, consuming some aloe vera juice can help to soothe your stomach and restore it to normal functioning.
However, keep in mind that aloe vera, especially in concentrated amounts, is used to treat constipation. If you are already struggling with loose stools or diarrhea, consuming aloe vera juice could make your problem worse.
7. Fruit Juice
One last alternative to coconut water is the fruit juice of any kind however, today we’ll be focusing on orange juice and apple juice. These alternatives to coconut water work very well in recipes like smoothies to provide the flavor and liquid that the coconut water normally does.
Both orange juice and apple juice provide lots of vitamins that can help to keep you healthy over time. However, there is one big difference between these products and coconut water, the sugar content.
Fruit naturally contains a high amount of sugar and since the fiber has been removed in the juicing process, your body will absorb all of that sugar right away. This means that things like fruit juices are not a great choice if you’re trying to reduce your added sugar intake. Although the sugar is natural, it will not be absorbed in the same way.
Coconut water is often considered nature’s version of a sports drink. It contains high levels of the electrolytes that your body needs, especially after exercise. By consuming coconut water you will be able to ensure that your body is getting everything it needs without adding in a bunch of extra sugar and preservatives.
If you cannot find coconut water in your area or it’s very expensive, there are several great substitutes that you can try out. Some of the best substitutes taste and nutrition-wise are birch water and maple water. Both of these are made from the sap of trees, have a light and sweet flavor, and can be used as an electrolyte replacement beverage.