Coconut water is delicious, refreshing, and super hydrating. The next time you need to quench your thirst, consider drinking coconut water. It has been trendy these past few years – it’s found in smoothies and juice recipes for a good reason – it’s loaded with several nutrients and benefits that your body can enjoy.
What is Coconut Water?
Coconut water is made up of clear liquid inside coconuts. Scientifically known as Cocos nucifera, coconuts are fruits that grow in tropical climates. The coconut water, found in the center of a green coconut, is a juice mostly made up of water and some electrolytes and nutrients. It has a little sweet, nutty flavor and is low in calories and sugar.
Coconut water comes from young coconuts that are about 6-7 months of age, though it’s also found in mature fruit.
It can be easy to confuse it with coconut milk, made from the water and the flesh of mature coconuts. Coconut milk is made by blending coconut water with the meat. This creates a thicker mixture and contains more fat and calories.
Benefits of Coconut Water
Drinking coconut water can be a beneficial part of a healthy diet. It allows you to stay hydrated while taking in little calories and being free of cholesterol and fats. Here are some benefits of coconut water:
1. Contains nutrients
Coconut water contains healthy nutrients that our body needs. In a cup of coconut water, you’ll get:
- 49 calories
- 12 g carbohydrates
- 11 g sugar
- 559 mg potassium
- 60 mg calcium
- 34 mg sodium
For context, a medium banana contains 420 mg of potassium, so coconut water may be a good choice if you’re looking to increase your potassium intake. Potassium helps keep fluid and electrolyte levels balanced and can even help lower blood pressure. Most people don’t get enough potassium in their diet, so drinking coconut water can help supply the needed potassium in the body.
2. Aids in hydration
Coconut water’s most well-known benefit is hydration, thanks to its subtle and refreshing taste and the presence of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Electrolytes are essential for everyday consumption – it helps keep you hydrated and even aid in controlling muscle contractions. This is why coconut water is an excellent alternative to drinks after a long day of playing sports or working out. It’s also great to drink in situations where you may want to avoid dehydration, such as when experiencing diarrhea or vomiting or after a day in the sun. Coconut water isn’t loaded with additional flavorings and sugars compared to sports drinks.
Coconut water provides excellent hydration when you’re sick. If you’re making lots of trips to the toilet or suffering from a fever, chances are you’re losing a lot of fluids. Drinking water is helpful, but you may still feel dehydrated until your electrolytes are replenished.
Staying hydrated can help in these areas:
- Boosting energy levels
- Regulating body temperature
- Supporting digestion
- Improving cognition
- Preventing kidney stones
- Reducing joint pain
- Managing weight
- Improving heart health
3. Provides low-calorie hydration
Other fruit juices can be high in sugar, carbs, and calories, especially those canned varieties. On the other hand, coconut water is lower in calories, sugar, and carbs, making it a good option for those who like to drink something sweet. Anyone who doesn’t like drinking water or those who find water unappetizing may find drinking coconut water pleasing. It’s a way to keep the body hydrated while keeping your sugar levels and calorie intake intact.
4. Contains antioxidants
Coconut water contains antioxidants, which can help eradicate free radicals and neutralize oxidative stress. A study found that coconut water’s high-potency antioxidants helped reduce cholesterol markers in rats, which may have the same effect on the human body.
Research on animals reveals that coconut water contains antioxidants that may help modify free radicals so they won’t cause harm to the body. In one study, treatment with coconut water was shown to decrease free radical activity and insulin levels, as well as blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
Another study revealed that damaged rat livers had improved oxidative stress when treated with coconut water, compared to livers that received no treatment.
5. May help prevent kidney stones
Drinking enough fluids, especially water, is essential for preventing kidney stones. There are some studies that suggest that coconut water might even be a better choice than water when it comes to preventing kidney stones.
In a study involving rats with kidney stones, coconut water prevented the crystals from sticking to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. Coconut water also reduced the number of crystals formed in the urine.
Another study that involved eight people revealed that coconut water helped release chloride, potassium, and citrate in individuals without kidney stones. It means that the juice can help flush out the urinary system and help keep the risk of developing stones low.
6. May help control blood sugar
If you need to control your blood sugar but are craving juice, drink unsweetened coconut water. It may help a person with diabetes in improving blood sugar control, according to a study that involved a rat model of diabetes. Another study involving rats with diabetes also found that coconut water reduced blood glucose. However, unsweetened coconut water already contains natural sugars and carbs, so a person with diabetes may not want to overdo coconut water.
Also, coconut water is a good source of magnesium, which may help increase insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
7. Supports healthy digestion
Drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day can keep everything moving along just fine in your digestive system. It also allows you to absorb nutrients into your bloodstream.
But with coconut water, you’ll be taking things to the next level because it comes with fiber and magnesium. As you probably know, fiber is essential for healthy digestion as it helps move waste through your system. Meanwhile, magnesium helps relax the muscles and is often added to supplements that help relieve conditions like constipation.
8. May support weight loss
A cup of pure coconut water contains only 45 calories, making it a healthy replacement for sugary drinks. Swapping your usual juice after a meal may support your weight loss efforts and help in maintaining your weight.
9. May support heart health
Coconut water can also help promote heart health. Its potassium content can help reduce blood pressure and may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
A study found that coconut water may help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure – thanks to its impressive potassium content. Scientific evidence links potassium consumption to a lowered risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
10. Contains electrolytes
Coconut water can help replenish the electrolytes lost during exercise or a workout. Electrolytes are minerals that our body needs to maintain proper fluid balance, among their many roles. Since coconut water contains electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, studies have found that it can be more beneficial than water for rehydration after exercise.
11. Supports healthy skin
Keeping your body nice and hydrated support not only digestion and healthy organs but also optimal skin health. Drinking coconut water and applying it to the skin may have a moisturizing effect on your skin. Staying hydrated keeps the skin looking young and healthy.
A study found that consuming coconut water helps prevent free radical damage, which may help reduce signs of aging. Also, coconut water contains a small dose of skin-enhancing vitamin C that supports collagen production, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines in the process.
Another study suggests that coconut water may also help fight acne due to its antimicrobial properties. By consuming coconut water, you can also help your antioxidant system by neutralizing the effects of free radicals.
12. Contributes to bone health
The calcium in coconut water is linked to keeping teeth and bones healthy and strong. If you don’t take enough calcium, coconut water has 60 milligrams – it may not be enough, but it can still contribute to your daily calcium intake. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that adults ages 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 mg of calcium a day.
How much Coconut Water Should You Drink?
Coconut water is clearly a great companion to water when it comes to your hydration needs. But, like with most things, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Coconut water still has calories and naturally contains some sugar, so it cannot be treated as equal to drinking water. One to two cups of coconut water a day will be enough.
Also, consuming too much coconut water can cause you to over-consume potassium, which can cause digestive issues like diarrhea.
Coconut water is a delicious, refreshing, electrolyte-filled natural beverage that can benefit your kidney, heart, blood sugar, skin, bones, and weight loss efforts. If you want to start adding this tropical drink to your diet, just be sure to avoid those products with added sugar to reap the health benefits.