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Is Coconut Water Good for You?

Is Coconut Water Good for You?

Coconut Water Good for You Title

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 stand up to its actual nutritional value? Is coconut water good for you?

Click here for your free guide on the benefits of coconut water and how to buy it in its healthiest form!


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 coconut 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’s 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 zero fat. It contains multiple vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are ideal for human health. (1)

The primary nutrient in coconut water is potassium.  It contains approximately 600 milligrams (12 percent DV), making it a high electrolyte beverage. Coconut water also contains a small amount of sodium, about 40 milligrams and up to 10 percent of your daily calcium and magnesium needs. (2)

Electrolytes are critical to maintain blood volume, heart health, as well as to prevent dehydration. Maintaining electrolyte levels can help reduce fatigue, stress and help maintain muscle relaxation.

 

Coconut Water Nutrition Facts Table Infographic

There has also been some interesting research regarding the cytokinin content of coconut water, which in the future may show some anti-cancer properties. Cytokinins are naturally occurring plant hormones that may help reduce the growth of cancer cells, although more research is needed at this time. (3)

With these nutrition benefits is coconut water good for you? The answer is yes! If you really like the flavor, it can be a low-calorie, low-sugar alternative to soda. It is pretty refreshing to consume on a hot day and to help re-hydrate.

Other health benefits of coconut water include:

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Weight loss
  • Increased athletic performance
  • Boosted energy
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Reduced cellulite
  • Relax muscle tension

Coconut water is a safe, healthy beverage for most people. Those with kidney disease should limit consumption foods that are too high in potassium, including coconut water. Now let’s explore the research and science-backed benefits of coconut water.


5 Health Benefits of Coconut Water

1. Electrolyte Replacement: Coconut Water vs. Sports Drink 

Because coconut water is high in potassium, and such a greatelectrolyte replacement, it has even been used for IV hydration in certain emergency situations. (4)

It is also lower in carbohydrates compared to other sports drinks. Coconut water is only about 4.5 percent carbohydrates whereas other sports drinks can contain 6–8 percent carbohydrate concentration. This is good for athletes trying to watch their sugar intake and hydrate after an event. For most casual exercisers, coconut water is a great low-sugar hydration choice for after a workout.

A 2002 study, compared water, coconut water, and standard sports beverages to determine which beverage was best for post-exercise hydration. The eight subjects exercised in the heat and then were rehydrated with either water, coconut water or a sports drink.

Researchers found that there was no difference in sodium levels, urine output or fluid balance between the three beverages, meaning all three beverages were equally hydrating. But, there was significantly less nausea or fullness with the coconut water allowing the participants to drink more of the beverage. (5)

Overall, coconut water can be an alternative to sports drinks, but it may depend on the type of sport and the intensity. Some long-distance endurance athletes may need more specialized products that contain more sodium and carbohydrates. But, for most casual exercisers, coconut water is a great option.

2. Lower Blood Pressure 

A 2005 study found that when subjects were given coconut water for two weeks, their systolic blood pressure was 71 percent lower and their diastolic blood pressure was 29 percent lower than those who drank plain water.

The high potassium content of coconut water has led researchers to investigate the potential benefits for reducing cardiovascular disease risk. Potassium counteracts the effect of sodium in the body, helping lower blood pressure. (67)

3. Lower Cholesterol and Triglycerides

A 2006 study found that rats given coconut water had a decreased chance of having a heart attack. The coconut water helped decrease their total cholesterol triglyceride levels, and LDL cholesterol, specifically the cholesterol found in the heart.

Additionally, the health benefits of coconut water helped the rats recover faster if they did have a heart attack. Researchers believe that the benefit may be related to the potassium, calcium and magnesium content in the water, all electrolytes that play a role in helping maintain heart health. (89)

4. Cleansing / Detox

Our bodies have an amazing natural ability to cleanse and detox on their own, if provided the correct nutrients and hydration. Inadequate hydration leads to the build-up of toxins in our bodies because the liver and kidneys, the detoxifying organs, are unable to function properly without adequate water.

Dehydration resulting from water or electrolyte loss leads to fatigue, irritability, confusion and extreme thirst. These symptoms result from the inability for the kidney to adequately flush toxins out of the system. Adequate fluid intake, ideally 8–10 cups per day, can help prevent dehydration and maintain the body’s natural detoxification ability. Although water is great, during very hot weather or strenuous exercise, more than just plain water may be necessary.

Coconut water contains a similar electrolyte profile to human blood, making it an ideal beverage to replace fluids and help remove toxins from the body. The electrolyte potassium, specifically, can help counteract some of the negative effects of a high-sodium processed diet.

5. Reduce Stress and Muscle Tension

It’s almost as good as a massage!  Some of the electrolytes found in coconut water, specifically calcium and magnesium, may help with stress and muscle tension. Many of us are missing these critical minerals in our diets, making stress management even more challenging. Other than maintaining strong teeth and bones, calcium helps with smooth muscle relaxation. Adequate calcium intakes may help keep our all our muscles relaxed, including our heart muscle, lowering the risk of heart attacks. (10)

Magnesium has been nicknamed the “relaxation” mineral. Its primary function is in the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that helps us relax. It also helps with the formation of serotonin, the “feel good hormone.” (11)

Magnesium and calcium work together to help maintain muscle relaxation. Coconut water contains both of these minerals, so drink up on a stressful day to help you stay calm and stress-free.


Coconut Water vs. Coconut Milk

Many people confuse coconut water with coconut milk. Higher in fat and calories, coconut milk is extracted from the flesh of the coconut and is thicker, sweeter and more dense. It also is packed with nutrition and healthy saturated fats, but it is also very high in calories. A cup of coconut milk is about 552 calories compared to a cup of coconut water that is only about 46 calories!  Whew!

Coconut milk has many health benefits, as it’s a rich source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, folate, calcium and selenium.

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