Coconut water is popping up everywhere in a variety of healthy beverages and you may be curious if it really lives up to the hype surrounding it. But, do the benefits of drinking coconut water stand up to its actual nutritional value? Is it good for you?
What is coconut water?
Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside a young, green coconut which is usually about the size of a basketball. Ideally, young coconuts are harvested at 5-7 months of age, to contain the most water.
As the coconut matures, the liquid is replaced with coconut “meat”. The greatest nutrient health benefits of the water comes from drinking the water of the young coconut, not the mature coconut milk, which is generally lower in nutrients.
Coconut water has been consumed for centuries in tropical countries and is believed to treat a variety of health-related ailments. In Sanskrit, coconuts are called “kalpa vriksha” which means “tree which gives all that is necessary for living”.
In certain emergency situations, coconut water has been used for IV hydration due to its high electrolyte content and the fact that it is sterile if used directly from the inside of the coconut. People all over the world enjoy coconut water for its multiple benefits and sweet taste.
Recently, coconut water’s health benefits continue to be touted, as many marketers call it “nature’s sports drink” and a “life enhancer”. But, are the claims that coconut water is good for you really true?
Coconut Water Nutrition Facts
The liquid inside the coconut contains approximately 46 calories per cup, 10 grams of natural sugar, with little protein and it is fat free! It contains multiple vitamins, minerals, and phytochemcials that are ideal for human health.
The primary nutrient in coconut water is potassium. It contains approximately 600 mg (12% DV) making it a high electrolyte beverage. Coconut water also contains a small amount of sodium, about 40mg and up to 10% of your daily calcium and magnesium needs.
Electrolytes are critical to maintain blood volume, heart health, and well as to prevent dehydration. Maintaining electrolyte levels can help reduce fatigue, stress, and help maintain muscle relaxation.
1) Incredible source of hydration
Other than reaching for plain old water, coconut water is delicious and refreshing and is a great way to ensure that your body remains hydrated in the summer heat.
Coconut water contains electrolytes to aid in effective hydration and its role in hydration after sports was shown in this 2012 study.
Too much of a good thing can be harmful though so take care not to use coconut water as your main source of daily hydration. Our bodies cannot cope with the high potassium content of coconut water and drinking too much can cause problems with your heart.
2) Great hangover cure
Being great for hydration naturally means that coconut water is perfect for helping to cure those nasty hangovers.
Aside from the hydrating qualities of the drink, coconut water also contains necessary carbohydrates to balance your blood sugar levels and curb nausea.
Lastly, the antioxidants found in coconut water ensure that any oxidative stress (from all the partying) is neutralized.
3) Rich in nutrients
Did you know that despite its name the coconut is actually a fruit? An incredibly useful fruit, as we are able to utilize so much of it for food.
The coconut water is found in young, green coconuts and it a food source for the coconut as it grows. The older the coconut the more coconut ‘meat’ there is and less of the ‘water’ is found.
Each cup of coconut water is full of different nutrients: Calcium, sodium, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and manganese. Aside from the vitamins and minerals, a cup of coconut water supplies us with almost 50 calories, carbohydrates, and a little protein.
It’s quite clear that coconut water is an easy choice, low in calories but rich in nutrients.
4) May Lower Cholesterol and triglycerides
So far studies have only been conducted on rats but coconut water may help to prevent heart attacks. In a study, it was found that rats that were given coconut water had improved heart markers such as decreased total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
An added bonus was that the rats that had already had a heart attack had a faster recover after drinking the coconut water.
The researchers attributed these benefits to heart health electrolytes found in coconut water.
5) May help prevent kidney stones
One of the main causes of painful kidney stones is dehydration. Most of us struggle to get in enough water throughout the day and the refreshing taste of coconut water helps to ensure that you can keep hydrated without drinking calorie-laden sodas or fruit juices.
Unfortunately, some people are more prone to developing kidney stones and sometimes being adequately hydrated is not enough.
It turns out that coconut water could potentially help to lessen the chance of crystals forming into kidney stones. Preliminary studies have only been completed in rats so far but the results are promising for kidney stone sufferers.
6) Replace essential minerals lost during exercise
Exercising in hot weather or over a long duration can lead to excessive sweating and with that, electrolyte loss.
Coconut water may be the answer to natural electrolyte replacement after strenuous exercise as it is full of minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium.
7) Lowers blood pressure
The research on coconut water helping to lower blood pressure is extremely promising. Coconut water is packed with potassium, a mineral that has been shown to lower blood pressure. This is worth celebrating as individuals with high blood pressure are at risk for strokes.
Another benefit that has only been studied in animals so far is the potential for coconut water to prevent harmful blood clots from forming. This study showed that coconut water was very effective in preventing clotting in rats that were diabetic.
8) All natural, unprocessed & delicious
Coconut water is one of the best tasting and most refreshing drinks on the market. Best of all it is completely natural with no additives or preservatives. If you are able to buy the actual green coconut itself this is your best option, however, there are many packaged coconut waters which are just as good.
Read the label to ensure that the coconut water you are buying is free from any added sugar or other undesirable additives.