Do you ever wonder if your favorite coconut water drink is real coconut water? You should. Here’s why.
Under federal regulations and guidelines, coconut water is treated like a fruit juice. Of course we know it isn’t a fruit juice, but we’ll let that inconsistency go for the time being.
A typical juice label in the U.S.
Beverages that contain fruit juices (remember we are talking about coconut water here) are required to state how much juice they contain as a percentage of the total volume of the product. For example, a package label might say “30% juice.” A reasonable person would take this to mean that 30% of the contents of the package are juice and 70% other ingredients, such as water perhaps. (Be careful relying on “reasonableness” when it comes to food labeling laws; there are many inconsistencies in our food code.)
A label that states “100% juice” does not, in all cases, mean that 100% of the contents are real juice. Juice concentrates are allowed and are often used. The FDA maintains a table of Brix values for most juices.
“What is Brix?” you ask.
Brix is a unit of measure for the concentration of the solid constituents in an aqueous solution. More specifically, it is a measure of the sugar content of a liquid – expressed in Degrees Brix (ᵒBx). The higher the ᵒBx, the more sugars are dissolved in it. It is commonly used measurement in wine production and, as you are currently learning, in juice production.
So, a bottle of orange juice that states “100% juice” can actually be a mixture of filtered water and orange juice concentrate, mixed to 11.8ᵒBx. (21CFR 101 Sub. B §101.30)
“Why is that a problem?” you ask.
First, concentrated sugars, even if they are concentrated fruit sugars, are metabolized within the body in the same way a refined sugar is. Concentrated orange juice will spike your blood sugar in the same way refined table sugar or high fructose corn syrup will. They cause your pancreas and endocrine system to work harder creating insulin to cope with the increase in blood sugar. Concentrated juices may play a role in the increase in the number of people with diabetes in our country today.
Secondly, nutrients in concentrated juices are not as bioavailable as those found in fresh juices. Orange juice from concentrate will not nourish the body in the same way fresh squeezed orange juice will.
“What does all this have to do with coconut water?” you demand.
There are companies in Southeast Asia that produce coconut water concentrate (referred to in the industry as CWC) and sell their product to coconut beverage manufacturers in the federal guidelines allow coconut water manufacturers to label their products as “100% coconut water” as long as they mix the CWC with filtered water to a minimum concentration of 5ᵒBx.
The same deficiencies inherent to concentrated fruit juices apply to CWC. Blood sugar spike and stress on the pancreas and endocrine system will be more pronounced with a coconut water concentrate. Nutrition will be compromised.
So, that coconut water you’ve been drinking may actually be a reconstituted coconut concentrate.
This is not to say all coconut water manufacturers use CWC in the manufacture of their products, but some do.
At Tula’s®CocoKefir™ , we never use CWC. In fact, we don’t even use bulk, pasteurized coconut water (another commercially available version). We extract real, raw coconut water from whole coconuts, one by one. This is a time consuming and expensive process, but our testing has proven that this is the only way to deliver high concentrations of thriving, viable probiotics, as well as bioavailable nutrition.
We’ve never tried to ferment CWC and we never will. Admittedly, we have had bulk, pasteurized coconut water suppliers urge us to test their coconut water and we have, reluctantly. The results were not good. The probiotics did not grow to the same high levels as they do in our fresh coconut water and the flavor was terrible. The testing proved to us what we intuitively knew; the best coconut kefir comes from fresh, raw coconuts. That is what we use and that is what we will continue to use – no filtered water, no pasteurization, no CWC.
We are committed to this way of doing things because we know – Good Health Begins in the Gut.