Good gut bacteria are the new “black” and the term “probiotic” is part of daily parlance. But probiotic science is young and unproven. What we do know is that different probiotics have different benefits – they’re not a blanket wellness tonic. As they say in the science classics, more studies are needed. However, this hasn’t stopped the influx of “probiotic” foods such as the latest probiotic Instagram sensation CocoWhip entering the market with big health claims.
CocoWhip is a coconut water based soft serve dessert joining fermented sensations like kombucha and kefir on the gut health bandwagon. It’s a vegan, gluten and dairy-free frozen treat that says it is made with “highly nutritious superfoods” with “far superior nutritional value to any other frozen dessert on the market including Acai Bowls & Frozen Yoghurt Desserts.” This is a bold claim, so we thought we would see how it stacks up alongside acai bowls and frozen yoghurt desserts, nutrient for nutrient (no added toppings).
What’s in CocoWhip?
Here’s what they tell us we’ll be tucking into when we tuck into Original Coconut CocoWhip. (The four CocoWhip variants, have additional flavor ingredients which are listed on their website.
“(uses only) Coconut Water, Organic Bio-Fermented Coconut Powder & Vegetable Sourced Stabilisers”.
Product ingredients listed on the Nutrition Information Panel
“Coconut Water, Vegan Premix (CocoWhip Coconut Powder, Corn Starch [Non GMO], Natural Sweetener [Xylitol], Coconut Sugar, Inulin, Guar Gum, Carob Bean Gum, Vegan Mono-diglycerides), Coconut Probiotic (Bio-fermented Coconut Powder, Freeze Dried Coconut Water, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Plant Arum)”
Unless you count the added probiotics, we can’t spot any “highly nutritious superfoods” in the ingredient list. There are lots of additives including the sugar alcohol xylitol. Why? Because basically they are transforming coconut water into a creamy ice cream look-a-like that make the product work, have good mouth feel and taste good.
Does CocoWhip have “far superior nutritional value to any other frozen dessert”?We put together the following table so you can see for yourself how, nutrient for nutrient, a 100-gram (that’s about 3½ ounces) serving of Original Coconut CocoWhip compares with the same size serving of Acai Bowl, Frozen Yoghurt Desserts and Soft Serve Ice-cream. The nutrient data is drawn from the manufacturer (CocoWhip), and from published nutrient databases (Acai Bowl, Frozen Yoghurt Dessert and Soft Serve Ice-cream).
Unless you are looking for a low-calorie, low-carb treat, we can’t see how CocoWhip is “nutritionally superior” apart from its added probiotics.
What about the probiotic claims?
On their website, CocoWhip state this soft serve dessert contains “Biofermented Probiotics for gut & intestinal health”. In fact, it is “loaded with bio-fermented freeze dried coconut water powder providing the equivalent (amount of probiotics) of over 10 cups of yoghurt” they tell us.
We asked CocoWhip about the probiotic claims. While they could name the strains, they were unable to provide backup evidence to answer the following questions regarding the actual amount and proven effectiveness of the probiotics added to their product:
- • What is the dose of probiotic in one serve of CocoWhip?
- • Are the probiotic bacteria able to survive exposure to stomach acid and bile on its way to the gut?
- • Are the probiotic bacteria able to survive manufacturing and storage conditions (e.g. temperature, acidity, oxygen availability)?
Limited studies have found that Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum (the bacteria in CocoWhip) may be probiotic (beneficial to the gut) and may reduce the symptoms of IBS. However a systematic review found these particular probiotics are only effective in reducing IBS symptoms if consumed daily for at least 4 weeks. But, CocoWhip is a treat food not a core food, so eating it daily is not recommended. A better way to get daily probiotics is in yoghurt fortified with extra probiotics, which will also provide nutrients such as protein and calcium that are lacking in CocoWhip.
The un-plugged truth
CocoWhip is a tasty frozen treat. The manufacturer provides no evidence to support their probiotic claims “for gut & intestinal health”, or what makes CocoWhip “nutritionally superior” to other frozen desserts. If you like it, enjoy it occasionally.
— Thanks to Rachel Ananin APD (TheSeasonalDietitian.com) for her assistance with this article.
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website