Coconuts may be classified as a nut, seed and a fruit -- but don't confuse coconut water with coconut milk. Coconut water is the thin liquid in the center of a young green coconut; coconut milk is made by mashing the meat of the coconut with water to make a thick pulp, which is then cooked. Unlike coconut milk, coconut water is naturally low in sugar, sodium and fat and high in potassium, magnesium and calcium. A study published in Fall 2006 in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" indicates that coconut water lowers total cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol, while raising "good" HDL cholesterol.
Start your day with a coconut water and fruit smoothie. Use tropical fruits such as banana, pineapple or mango to complement coconut's mild nutty flavor. Add protein with almond butter, flax seeds or yogurt.
Drink coconut water after exercising. Bruce Fife, author of "Coconut Water for Health and Healing" states that coconut water is "Nature's Gatorade" and is superior to commercial sports drinks because of its high electrolyte content.
Cook with coconut water. Make rice with coconut water instead of plain water, which will add flavor as well as all the health benefits. You could use coconut water as a base for soups -- especially a soup with an Asian flair. Replace milk or water in your baked goods with coconut water -- treats from banana nut muffins to pineapple upside-down cake would benefit from coconut water's nutty taste.
Coconut water can be expensive -- you may save money buying in bulk.
Do not use coconut water if you are allergic to coconuts. Coconut water may help lower cholesterol levels, but is not a substitute for a balanced diet, regular exercise or cholesterol-lowering medication.