The Hidden Ingredient To Check For When Buying Coconut Water

Coconut water is refreshing, hydrating, and nutrient-dense, considering it contains 94% water and offers magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. According to Healthline, the beverage may help lower blood sugar for those with diabetes, prevent kidney stones, and support heart health. And yet, there is one hidden ingredient to watch for when purchasing a carton of coconut water: sugar.

One cup of coconut water has 6.26 grams of natural sugar, which is about a quarter of the 24-gram per day limit for adult women and around a sixth of the 36-gram limit for adult men recommended by the American Heart Association. However, some brands add in a little extra to help keep the flavor of their product the same in each bottle since the sugar content in coconuts can vary. Vita Coco Original Coconut Water, for instance, contains a gram of added sugar per cup serving, while C2O Original Coconut Water includes 2 grams of added sugar per cup. While the percentages of the extra sweetness are low, the ingredient can fly under the radar if you don't check for it — and since coconut water is already naturally sugary, you can find plenty of brands that don't include it.

Flavored coconut water drinks are more likely to contain added sugar

While the aforementioned brands' original coconut waters do have a little added sugar, flavored cartons are usually the biggest culprits here. For instance, Once Upon a Coconut's Premium Coconut Water + Chocolate contains 2 grams per 10.8 fluid ounce serving, while the brand's Sparkling Coconut Water + Energy drink has 12 grams for the same serving size. In a similar vein, ZICO's Chocolate coconut water drink also includes 7 grams of extra sugar per 8 fluid ounce serving, while its fruit punch-flavored ZICO Hydrate has 10 grams per 16.9 fluid ounce serving.

For the most part, however, popular coconut water brands make an effort to stay away from added sugar, especially if you go for their unflavored products. Harmless Harvest's Organic Coconut Water doesn't have any, and even the brand's Flavored Coconut Water, Energizing Organic Coconut Water, and Organic Coconut Water with Pulp can say the same. Whole Foods Coconut Water, ZICO's Natural Coconut Water, and Trader Joe's Single Origin Organic Coconut Water are options that are free of added sugar. So, if you're trying to stay away from this hidden ingredient, reach for the bottles that contain pure coconut water first — and when in doubt, check the nutritional information on the back of the packaging.