Coconut Water

Celebrities love it. Athletes swear by it. Health freaks are... freaking out.

But what's the big deal?

Coconut water has seemed to roll in from out of nowhere, in a very similar fashion to other wickedly-popular health drinks like kombucha and acai berry juice (which will probably be out of style by the time I learn how to say it right).

Get the rest of the story after the jump.

Khepra Anu is a Washington D.C.-based food scientist and proclaimed "coconut king." He was a featured live food chef at this past weekend's Raw Spirit Festival in Prescott, and although his food demo on Sunday featured a kale salad, the discussion quickly turned to his strong belief in the benefits of drinking coconut water.

"I would drink coconut water before I would drink some Poland Springs, or whatever water you drink," he said.

When he wasn't giving demos or leading discussions, Anu was found at his Mojo Juice Club vendor's booth, whacking open fresh coconuts with a machete. With the juice club, he leads groups through a detoxification process that consists of mostly consuming coconut water and fresh juices for an entire week.

And although I'm not about to attempt that anytime soon, I will fondly be reminded of my juice box days as I crack open a tetra pak of coconut water and give it a go.

The hippie history: Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside a young coconut, and has been a popular drink in tropical climates like Southeast Asia and Hawaii for many years.

Don't get coconut water confused with its fattier, creamier, and more mature version known as coconut milk. The water has no fat, little calories, more potassium than a banana and 5 essential electrolytes.

It has even been used intravenously as a hydration fluid in areas like developing nations where supplies are scarce and for these same intense hydrating properties, it is creeping in popularity as a hangover cure.

This has caused many athletes to ditch their useless Gatorade (come on, you can't even hook it up in an IV!) and pick up the much more expensive alternative of coconut water, which some companies have dubbed "nature's sports drink."

Leader of the coconut water pack is VitaCoco, a Madonna-backed company based in New York. The company has played a major role in the juice's popularity in the U.S. market, which went from zero to $35 million in just five years, according to the Huffington Post.

And you don't have to search out the nearest health food store to find the stuff. Thanks to its popularity, it is more common than ever to see the little boxes take up space in coolers at the grocery store or gas station.

The crunchy conclusion: I'm going to be honest right off the bat: I love this stuff. Health crap aside, it is refreshing, is my tried-and-true remedy after too many drinks the night before and, in my opinion, tastes damn good.

Major brands feature a "natural" or "pure" flavor, consisting of 100 percent young coconut water. It has a faint hint of flavor that, to me, doesn't really taste like much.

However, the OG flavor has been referred to as "sock water" -- ouch. So to avoid any not-so-fond memories of high school gym class, there are plenty of versions spiked with different fruity flavors like mango, pineapple, and even acai (insert eye roll here).

The only thing holding me back from bathing in the stuff is its crack-like properties: your thirst for the juice becomes insatiable, in turn forcing you to pay it's high price.

Dehydrated? Hungover? Headache? Backache? Heartache? Coconut water becomes the answer to everything.

And with 11 ounces of coconut water going for $2 - $3, just a couple sips will drain your juice box and kill your buzz, and you're already jonesin' for more.

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Kelly Green