Coconut Water

9 Toxic Coconut Water Brands That Aren’t All They’re Cracked Up To Be

Coconut water is one of the purest liquids in the world – a healthful gift straight from nature and the perfect alternative to sugary, chemical-filled sports drinks. It’s low in calories and high in nutritional value. This magical natural beverage has become so popular as a health drink that you can find it lining the shelves in just about any food store.

The explosion in sales has a downside though. It means that there have been some unscrupulous dealers who have jumped on the coconut water bandwagon and if you like to live green and clean, you may just find that some of the brands you are buying don’t really have all the benefits that make coconut the health elixir you’re looking for.

Harmful chemicals and processing methods can ruin coconut water’s natural benefits and even make it toxic. That means that not all coconut waters on the shelf are created equal. If you want to experience the healing, hydrating and energising powers of coconut water, you need to get it in its most pristine state. Reputable coconut water manufacturers won’t be afraid to give you all the facts about their production, going all the way back to the source. Here are some of the things to look out for…


1. Using Mature Coconut Water

Green literally is better when it comes to coconut water. Waiting for the coconut to ripen doesn’t make the water more nutrient-rich as you may think, as the nutrients from the water seep into the coconut flesh as it ages. Older coconuts are better for making coconut milk and coconut flesh products. Older coconuts are cheaper for the manufacturer to buy so it’s a tempting way to save money. The older water also begins to lose its fresh, nectar-like taste, so if you want that delectable flavour and the most nutrient rich drink, make sure that your coconut water comes from nuts between 5 – 7 months old.

2. Using Coconut Concentrate

Some manufacturers heat the water up and then reduce it to syrup – a concentrate which can be ‘reconstituted’ by adding water. Importing this syrup is cheaper. The high heat used to reduce the water is very damaging to the nutrients and enzymes in the water, so not a good idea. Check that your water is not made from concentrate or reconstituted.

3. Pasteurisation

This delicate drink  needs to be treated with loving care to preserve its brew of healthy nutrients, ideally being kept as cool as possible. However, the quickest, cheapest and easiest way to prevent it from denaturing is to heat it to high temperatures, pasteurising it to kill any possible bacteria. That means that coconut water concentrates may have been heated twice. Doubly damaged coconut water.

4. Added Flavours & Sweeteners

If you are truly getting young, fresh coconuts, they taste delicate, sweet and so refreshing, but if a manufacture is using more acidic, older coconuts, or heated or concentrated water, they may add ‘natural’ flavours or sweeteners to enhance the taste. Once you have tasted the real thing, your discerning taste buds will definitely notice the difference.

5. Added Preservatives

Apart from preservatives listed on the bottle, many non-organic coconuts are preserved for transportation using chemicals such as formaldehyde or sodium metabisulphite. These chemicals are thought to be cancer forming so having them leech into your health cocktail doesn’t make sense at all.


C2O: They use high heat pasteurisation of up to 120°C with the product in their cans and use steel and aluminum cans, both of which can leech into your water.

Coco Libre (Organic): If something is labelled organic, always look deeper. They use coconut water from concentrate, flash pasteurization with heat and also add Natural flavours.

Cona Zona: The label says it’s made from concentrate.

Goya: They made major efforts to fight GMO labeling in California. Suspicious no? They use heat pasteurisation with added preservatives, including sugar.

Naked Juice Coconut Water: This is a Pepsico brand and they use water from mature coconuts, and flash pasteurise using heat. They have been sued for using synthetic substances and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their produce, as well as been caught out using deceptive labelling.

O.N.E. Coconut Water: Another Pepsico brand that uses flash pasteurisation with heat and their coconut waters contain natural flavours and added sugar.

Purity Organic: Another ‘organic’ labelled brand that doesn’t really live up to the concept. It uses concentrate and flash pasteurisation with heat.

Zico: This Coca-Cola company is a big GMO supporter. This coconut water is made from concentrate, pasteurised with high temperatures, and has natural flavours added.

Quite honestly, your best bet is to crack open a young green coconut straight from a tree and drink it au natural if you want to experience tropical magic as close the original as possible. However, us urbanites can enjoy the next best thing:


Raw C
Raw C’s approach is: crack, pack & send! They use the freshest coconuts, younger than 7 months old and don’t sneak anything like sugars, syrups, additives, concentrates and stabilisers into their water. They also make sure they use packaging that is BPA-free.

This certified organic brand comes from a Vietnamese company that sustainably grows, imports and exports Ben Tre coconuts. The Cocoxim range is processed using UHT, which makes use of technology to naturally maintain the freshness, flavour and nutrition in coconuts.

The CoCos-Pure range is made using the fresh juice of young, single origin Thai coconuts, with no chemical additives or sweeteners.

This brand pride themselves on their honest quality. They make their water from young coconuts and don’t add anything – no preservatives, sugars or additives.

Dr. Martins
With all the goodness coconut has to offer, and from controlled, organic sources wherever possible and no nasties, Dr Martins’ coconut products are some of the best you’ll get your hands on.

Vita Coco
Vita Coco is GMO free and full of important vitamins and minerals and does not contain gluten, palm oil or artificial preservatives.

  • Adriana de Kock
    Posted at 07:44h, 06 July Reply

    Great article!!!!! Do you have any information about the newest brand arriving in SA, H2coco?

  • Joseph
    Posted at 07:54h, 06 July Reply

    Hi Renee,

    Just wanted to say that this is a very interesting article!

    I have been drinking Coconut water as an alternative to other more damaging drinks for about 2 & a half years now, as part of a lifestyle change where we started eating more Raw & Natural.

    However, coconut water was quite limited in its presence in SA at the time. I tried to bring in a product that we had while in Thailand. Its called Refresh by UFC. It really was one of the best tasting I’ve ever had to date. & because UFC are a local Thai company whose objective is to support the agricultural industry, I’d be interested to know the process they go through & whether it is also a ‘bad’ product. If not, its definately worth a look, as the majority of us struggle to source quality at an affordable price. & this limits the potential for us to substitute using this great product (that being coconut water in general).

    Let me know if you are interested in getting in touch with the suppliers, I can probably get in touch with them again if you like. Just want affordable coconut water for all in SA.

    Thanks for the info.

  • Lynn
    Posted at 10:05h, 06 July Reply

    great article. need to see more of these types of articles. Thanks!

  • Dominique
    Posted at 10:35h, 06 July Reply

    I only buy the Raw C brand, it is the best in my opinion.

    So many brands add flavouring and sugar.

  • Tracy
    Posted at 11:30h, 06 July Reply

    I’m so happy this article has been published, I was never sure of the brands I saw in the shops and online. I currently purchase a brand called Coco V (distributor in Johannesburg), do you perhaps have any more info on that? And also on Coco Zone (distributor in Cape Town) please?

  • Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching
    Posted at 13:21h, 06 July Reply

    Wow, thanks for this! Such useful information.

  • Shamrita
    Posted at 13:55h, 06 July Reply

    Could you elaborate on natures choice and hydro coco coconut water, whether that’s a good or bad product to consume?

  • Tennelle Da Silva
    Posted at 15:18h, 06 July Reply

    What is the verdict on PURElite Pure Young Coconut Water? – sold at Fruit and Veg City Food Lovers Markets

    • Delia McIntyre
      Posted at 13:50h, 25 January Reply

      Yes, I would also like to hear the verdict on the Purelite from Fruit and Veg?
      Thank you all SOO MUCH for your efforts to bring us all of this valuable information!

      Bless you

  • Cathrin
    Posted at 17:05h, 06 July Reply

    Thanks a lot! Really appreciate the info.

  • Karen Muir
    Posted at 20:52h, 06 July Reply

    Thank you SO much for that! I love cocnut water and am incredibly grateful for this research you have done.

  • Dale
    Posted at 20:15h, 08 September Reply

    Love the helpful honesty.

  • Vinny
    Posted at 00:52h, 02 October Reply

    I di’ndt know where to find this info then kaboom it was here.

  • Alec
    Posted at 17:15h, 12 January Reply

    Any news on the Purelite Coconut Water from VIetnam sold by Food Lovers Market. I know they add vitamin c/abscorbic acid but im not sure if that constitutes good or bad coconut water.

  • Michael
    Posted at 04:33h, 06 February Reply

    Hi ,
    thx for the article. I was wondering how the few trusted brands on your list preserve the raw coconut water if they don’t pasturise or add preservatives.

    Cheers mike

    • Holly
      Posted at 14:45h, 05 August Reply

      ThankS for the info. HOWEVER none of these are available in the USA

  • William
    Posted at 13:54h, 19 September Reply

    Can you please advise why you mention Vita Co Co in your “9 Toxic Coconut Water Brands and then sell the same brand?

  • Brent
    Posted at 21:50h, 30 March Reply

    Thanks for the great info. I stumbled across something very concerning on the Raw C coconut water packaging though. They have covered up the original label with a new one and in the old label it lists GLUTEN on it!!! I’m also pretty sure the label used to also state it was organic, which it no longer does. Please could you look into the gluten issue!??

    • Chevaun Roux
      Posted at 11:01h, 12 April Reply

      Hi Brent. Definitely something worth looking into – we will get in touch with the supplier and let you know what they say. Thanks for your inquiry!

    • Ed
      Posted at 12:04h, 28 June Reply

      I have questions of my own about the Raw C brand. I will basically try any brand of coconut water which is not pasteurized and has no additives – just pure coconut water. I have therefore tried many brand, and I have also spent time drinking from fresh young coconuts in the Philippines while there on working holidays. While there is a certain consistency of flavour across that whole spectrum of coconut water that I have tried, the taste of Raw C coconut water stands apart from all of them, having more sweetness (and a kind of musky quality). Their coconut water products are consistently like this, always having the same flavour.

      So what’s the deal? Are they being honest about their ingredients, but sourcing different kinds of coconuts to anyone else? Is there something going on with the soil where they are growing? Are they putting their coconut water through a process to concentrate the natural sugars before bottling? Or are they being dishonest with their customers and adding sugar (maybe coconut sugar) or other additives?

      If you compare the different brands yourself this difference should be immediately obvious and stand out to you. I am not pointing fingers at Raw C but I’d love to know why this is the case. In general I stick to cheaper brands which taste more like what it tastes like fresh out of a green coconut. I find it far more enjoyable and refreshing anyway.

  • Umira
    Posted at 14:41h, 06 June Reply

    I believe that the information contained here is biased. Most of the brands that are “ok” to drink are sold on FTN, and rightly so (according to them) since they want to sell their products. What about other brands, like Woolworths coconut water? And how does one go about finding out as to which are pasteurised vs those which are not? It’s not like any of them state specifically as to their pasteurisation practices.

    I understand about coconut water from greener younger coconuts being healthier. But I am of the opinion that the information contained here is biased.

  • Niel
    Posted at 15:31h, 08 July Reply

    If it is made from concentrate, it’s pretty much useless to your body. So it’s good you point this out. Also if you need to add sugar then what’s the point of drinking coconut water.

    The fresh green coconut’s water is definitely the healthiest choice.

    Nature’s Choice also used to have a decent brand of coconut water (in a small glass bottle), sometimes mixed and sweetened with added pineapple juice.

  • ramakrishnan
    Posted at 06:47h, 16 August Reply

    Coconut water is very beneficial for skin and hair. Apart from this there are many health benefits of it. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • Matthew
    Posted at 17:34h, 25 August Reply

    Thanks Renee, you didnt mention Eastern Highlands 100% Coconut Water. Ive recently bought some bottles of it and it tastes suspiciously artificial. Having lived in the east, I’d drink fresh coconut water daily, but this tastes extremely unlike the real thing! Theyre pretty cryptic on their packaging… which leaves me to believe theyre trying to mislead the public.

  • Manu Arora
    Posted at 14:22h, 17 September Reply

    Thank you for sharing this informative post.

  • Steve Kozek
    Posted at 21:32h, 24 November Reply

    Thank you for the article. I wonder if anyone has any information on this.
    My 12 yo son has high levels of uranium in his body, discovered on a recent heavy metal test. We tested out well water and it all is fine, negative on all heavy metals. I am trying to understand where this is coming from.

    Due to a dairy sensitivity we have a lot of coconut in our diet for years now.
    He loves coconut water (have been purchasing coco libre and harvest bay) and coconut milk (So Delicious).
    Is it possible that the harvesting and production of these products in countries like Vietnam, with lesser environmental controls and have a lot of uranium under ground and perhaps being mined. Maybe the production facilities themselves are near contamination areas or could the coconut trees themselves absorbing uranium?
    When i asked Harvest Bay for testing results, the only thing they produce is either tests to a metallic can packaging, or ecoli and other bacteria tests.
    Radio silence on heavy metal tests. I am tempted just to test (but would be very expensive) coconut water/coconut milk with a consumer food environmental lab.
    Any thoughts from anyone?

  • Yaya
    Posted at 00:27h, 13 February Reply

    Quite sure that these days Raw C is pasteurized.

  • Jo
    Posted at 20:26h, 23 March Reply

    I recently tried IF 100% pure coconut water. Best tasting coconut water!!!

  • Kerry-Anne White
    Posted at 09:07h, 04 April Reply

    Thanks for the article!

    Are you sure your information about aluminium cans is correct? As far as I know (I work in the engineering/materials industry), there are strict regulations for cans. They are coated inside with a polymer coating, specifically designed to prevent aluminium leaching and corrosion. They are also designed not to breakdown and get into the food/drink.

    Just double check that before you scratch off that brand.

  • Bryan
    Posted at 03:35h, 03 June Reply

    What is your opinion on the brand, “Harmless Coconut Water”? Thank you for all of the information you have given thus far.

  • Virginia Regan
    Posted at 07:46h, 02 March Reply

    Although it’s great you shared this information, it’s extremely biased. You have labelled brands as bad because they heat the water to pasturise yet the brand’s you label as good you don’t mention how they pasturise. To comply with Australian food safety guidelines all of them need to be pasturised. So how do the “good” ones do their pasturising? I think you’ll find they all use heat of at least 120°C. From other articles I’ve read I believe the best pasturing process uses pressure. Do you know of any Australian brands that do this? I read that JT’s is one such brand but I’ve not seen it anywhere. Hopefully there are other brands that also do this?

  • Suné Basson
    Posted at 04:49h, 19 August Reply

    Hi there

    I am looking for raw coconut water, I recently moed that Raw C states their product is pasteurized – which is very disappointing and misleading if you look at the name. Nevertheless, I am curious as to why you consider them to be good if you noted pasteurization to be bad? Also want to know if you know of ANY raw coconut water products being sold…. thank you!

  • Shimla
    Posted at 10:09h, 14 April Reply

    Coconut Water Juice Concentrate contains less sodium and more potassium than a sports drink. Many professional sports players credit the Coconut Water Juice Concentrate for keeping them on their feet for hours throughout the games. It even prevents cramping even in the hottest and most humid conditions.

  • Laurette Ramsey
    Posted at 20:56h, 05 October Reply

    Wow I am speechless, awesome article, I would like more articles about other foods,drinks etc.
    Very informative

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