Coconut water is the real game-changer in the fitness industry. Within a few years, this miracle drink has gained a huge fan following and become a trendy drink.
And why wouldn’t it be? It’s refreshing, tasty, and healthy.
But, what is coconut water?
Coconut water is the clear, transparent liquid found in green-colored, immature coconuts. If you need the freshest and purest coconut water, get it from young coconuts. They have more water than the mature ones.
Why is it so?
Mature coconuts develop a harder husk, while the water inside solidifies to form the gooey white flesh. That’s why mature coconuts aren’t the best to get coconut water.
To extract the water, you need to chop the top off the soft shell of the young coconut.
The taste of coconut water may vary with different varieties of coconut. It also depends upon the region where they are grown.
No matter where it is grown, its nutritional qualities remain the same.
Coconut water contains many essential nutrients including minerals. So, it is a healthy drink that’s completely natural too.
Let’s check out the top ten health benefits of coconut water.
1. Coconut Water Is An Excellent Source of Essential Nutrients
Coconut water forms naturally in the coconut and has very little fat content with 94% of it being water. Therefore, it is incredibly healthy.
Both taste-wise and nutrition-wise coconut water is different from coconut oil and coconut milk.
Coconut milk is made from coconut flesh and has high-fat content.
Do you know that coconut milk contains 50% water only while coconut water has 94% water?
Typically, it takes 10-12 months for coconuts to fully mature. Young coconuts, about 6-7 months old, contain the highest amount of coconut water.
On average, an immature, green coconut contains around 0.5 to 1 cups of coconut water.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown of one cup of coconut water (240ml):
- 46 Calories
- Calcium: 6% of the RDI
- Carbs: 3g
- Fiber: 3g
- Magnesium: 15% of the RDI
- Manganese: 17% of the RDI
- Protein: 2g
- Potassium: 17% of the RDI
- Sodium: 11% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 10% of the RDI
Nearly 185gms of potassium is present in a 100ml serving of coconut water.
Obviously, this isn’t a lot considering that an average 715gm potato or 422mg banana contain a higher amount of potassium than coconut water.
Potassium is also available in many other, cheaper sources.
But, coconut water is an excellent choice because it is a low-calorie beverage.
Besides, any amount of potassium is excellent for heart health. It also improves muscular and skeletal functioning.
2. Antioxidant Properties
Research on animals exposed to toxins reveals that the antioxidants present in coconut water can modify free radicals to prevent harm.
For your information, free radicals form in your cells during the process of metabolism.
These are unstable molecules that increase in number if your body experiences stress or injury.
An increase in the number of free radicals is not good because it makes your body enter the oxidative stress state.
Free radicals can potentially damage your cells as well as increase the risk of disease.
In a study, rats with liver damage showed considerable improvement in preventing oxidative stress when treated with coconut water in comparison to rats that didn’t receive any treatment.
In another research on rats being fed a high-fructose diet, coconut water helped in decreasing the activity of free radicals, reducing blood pressure, insulin levels, and triglycerides.
However, there hasn’t been any investigation on antioxidant activity in human subjects. So, let’s wait for new researches before exploring the impact of coconut water on free radicals.
3. May Help in Treating Diabetes
Research suggests that coconut water can lower blood sugar levels.
It has improved many health markers in animals with diabetes.
Such as, in a study, diabetic rats could maintain balanced blood sugar levels than the control group when treated with coconut water. Moreover, coconut water treated rats show lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, indicating improvement in long-term sugar control.
Another study revealed that diabetic rats, when treated with coconut water, showed better blood sugar levels and oxidative stress markers got reduced remarkably.
But, controlled studies need to be carried out to confirm similar effects in humans.
Since coconut water contains 3gms of fiber and 6gms digestible carbs per cup, diabetics can add it in their meal plans. It is also a good source of magnesium, which can increase insulin sensitivity and help people with type-2 diabetes and prediabetes ensure a balance in blood sugar levels.
4. Can Inhibit Kidney Stones
If you are interested in preventing kidney stones, drink enough fluids.
You can keep yourself hydrated with plain water. However, research suggests that coconut water is a better option.
Kidney stones form when compounds like calcium and oxalate combine and become crystals in your urine.
These crystals then transform into stones.
But, you must remember that some people are more likely to develop kidney stones than others.
In a study on rats with kidney stones, coconut water prevented crystals from getting stuck to the kidneys or any other part of the urinary tract. Coconut water also significantly minimized the number of these crystals.
Researchers believe that with its antioxidant properties, coconut water can reduce free radical production, which is the main cause of high oxalate levels in the urine.
However, this is the only study that examined the effect of coconut water on kidney stones. Let’s wait for more researches in this context to form an opinion.
5. May Support Heart Health
Do you know that coconut water can help in reducing the risk of heart disease?
It might be true!
A study revealed that rats that drank coconut water showed a reduction in blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels with a considerable decrease in liver fat.
Another study from the same researchers had two groups of rats receiving the same diet while one group receiving a similar dose (4ml fed for 100grams of body weight) of coconut water.
After monitoring for 45 days, researchers noted that the coconut water group showed a reduction in triglycerides and cholesterol levels. The levels were similar to the impact of a statin drug used to lower cholesterol levels.
However, don’t forget that the rats received a very high dose.
An individual weighing 150-pound or 68-kg should consume 91-ounces (2.7ltrs) of coconut water per day to expect similar benefits.
It is essential to further investigate the effect of coconut water in supporting heart health as the current findings are incredibly encouraging.
6. May Reduce Blood Pressure
Coconut water can control blood pressure because it is a heart-healthy drink.
The potassium in coconut water helps in lowering blood pressure in individuals experiencing hypertension or high blood pressure.
It does so by counteracting the negative impact of sodium, which can cause a rise in blood pressure.
In a small study, coconut water improved systolic blood pressure in 71% of the participants who complained of high blood pressure.
When blood pressure is measured, systolic blood pressure indicates a higher reading.
A study on animals revealed that coconut water promotes anti-thrombotic activity and prevents formation of blood clots.
However, many other fruits and vegetables are high in potassium, along with minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
Bananas, oranges, apricots, and green leafy veggies are all rich in potassium.
So, although potassium lowers blood pressure, drinking more coconut water and eating less fruits is not suggested.
You must obtain potassium from a wide range of food sources to ensure a balanced meal plan.
7. Treats Headaches And Hangovers
Drinking alcohol causes electrolytes and water loss in your body. That’s why you feel nausea and headache the next day.
To get rid of the hangover from last night’s alcohol drinking, you should drink coconut water. It will help you feel better almost instantly.
It happens because coconut water has high water content and electrolytes. Therefore, it serves as an excellent remedy to treat hangovers.
It replaces the lost electrolytes and adds antioxidants and essential nutrients to repair the damages from alcohol drinking.
Coconut water is excellent if you get headaches frequently. Because of its hydrating properties, it not only replenishes electrolytes but also energizes and refreshes you.
8. Helps You Recover After A Long Exercise Session
Coconut water is the perfect go-to beverage to rehydrate and regain the lost electrolytes after workout.
Drinking coconut water soon after workout can improve athletic performance and endurance.
Electrolytes, in simple words, are minerals.
Potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium all are electrolytes.
These perform many essential functions in your body such as ensuring fluid balance.
Electrolytes contain carbohydrates in the form of glucose, which is just like sugar.
Sodium and potassium are also vital components in many commercial sports drinks.
A study revealed that coconut water rehydrates your body just like a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink. However, it doesn’t impact exercise performance much.
The rate of rehydration was equal to commercial high-electrolyte sports drinks.
Participants of the studies didn’t get nausea and stomach issues with coconut water.
Another study compared the effect of coconut water against high-electrolyte beverages. The results revealed that coconut water caused bloating and upset stomach.
In another small study, researchers didn’t find any significant difference in athletic performance with coconut water and plain water.
Currently, evidence that supports the claim that coconut water improves athletic performance more than plain water is insufficient.
So, drink coconut water for its many health benefits, but, don’t expect drastic performance improvement.
9. Keeps you Hydrated
Coconut water is low in calories and has an amazing sweet and nutty flavor. When drank directly from the coconut, it tastes divine.
How can you drink it directly?
All you need is to press a straw gently into the green coconut’s soft part and start sipping.
You can store the coconut in your fridge as well and consume the water within three weeks of purchase.
Bottled coconut water is also available at most grocery stores.
However, be careful when buying bottled coconut water. Read the ingredients thoroughly to verify that you are buying 100% coconut water. Some brands mix sugar and other flavoring agents so you need to be careful.
You can drink coconut water as it is or mix it in smoothies, vinaigrette dressing, and chia seed pudding.
You may also choose it as a replacement of plain water if you want a naturally sweet drink.
10. Lowers cholesterol
Some studies carried out on rats revealed that consuming coconut water helps in reducing cholesterol levels.
However, this research isn’t yet applied to humans.
Moreover, the researches on rats aren’t sufficient as these are conducted on small sample size.
Therefore, to keep cholesterol levels low, you cannot just rely on coconut water.
Incorporate other lifestyle changes in this regard. Like having a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and being more physically active.
But, coconut water can help too as it impacts your cholesterol levels positively.
By the way, can coconut water promote weight loss?
In comparison to other sugary fizzy drinks, coconut water is low in calories but not calorie-free as is plain water.
The connection between coconut water and improved metabolism isn’t confirmed through research as yet.
The NHS also notes that evidence to support the claim that certain drinks or foods can impact metabolism is insufficient.
Coconut water is excellent for recreational athletes, but its impact is similar to plain water or commercial sports drinks.
Not everyone performs strenuous exercises so plain water is just fine. There isn’t any need to drink sports drinks or coconut water.
However, if you like the taste of coconut water and your budget allows, go for this nutritious drink. It has many health benefits.
It is a good source of potassium and is a low-calorie drink.
It helps you stay hydrated.
It has lower sugar content than many soft or fizzy drinks/juices.
Coconut water is good for your heart and kidneys, and balances blood sugar levels. It’s a natural way to keep hydrated, reduce sodium, and add potassium to your diet.
A majority of Americans cannot get enough potassium as they don’t consume more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. For them, coconut water is a blessing to overcome nutritional gaps.
Despite that controlled studies on the benefits of coconut water are minimal but the research conducted so far showed encouraging results.
However, the notion that coconut water can treat a majority of diseases is just a myth.
Remember that natural coconut water extracted from the nut is better than canned or packed versions. These are generally heat treated and pasteurized to increase their shelf life.
You must always check the label and only buy if it is pure coconut water.
Avoid flavored varieties as these have high sugar content and calories.
If you intend to make coconut water a regular part of your meal plan, then avoid products with added sugar.
Always remember that branded versions available on grocery stores have high sugar content, ranging between 3g to 6g (approx. 1 teaspoon) per 100ml.
This means in a 330ml serving of packed coconut water, you will get more than 15g of sugar (about three teaspoons).
It is still lower than many juices, sports drinks, and soft drinks though. Sugars in commercial drinks are ‘free’ and not bound to fiber. Therefore, these get absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.
When checking out the label, search for per 100g/ml. A low-sugar product will offer less than 5g per 100g/ml. If you need low-salt version, check for 0.3g or 0.1g of sodium.
Plain coconut water is ideal for adults and kids alike as it is less sweet.
However, don’t go overboard.
An 11-ounce container has around 60 calories. If you drink more than once in a day, calories may add up quickly.