The Truth About Coconut Water, According to Experts

·4 min read
Photo credit: ShotShare - Getty Images
Photo credit: ShotShare - Getty Images

Coconut water has grown in popularity over the past few years, but this beverage dubbed "nature's sports drink" has been around for centuries. Known for its slightly sweet and nutty flavor, this refreshing beverage is great on its own or used in smoothies and more.

Packed with electrolytes and flavor, coconut water is the clear liquid found inside young coconuts and has a slew of health benefits. It differs from coconut milk, which has a creamy white hue and incorporates the actual coconut flesh.

Here's everything you need to know about the tropical drink, including nutrition facts and health benefits.

Coconut Water Health Benefits

1. Provides a slew of nutrients and electrolytes

Coconut water fits into both low calorie and low sugar diets since it only has about 45 calories per cup and around 11 grams of sugar. Plus, it's naturally loaded with electrolytes including potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and more. Although nutrition facts can vary slightly based on where the coconut is sourced, as well as the maturity of the coconut, an average 8 ounce glass of coconut water has:

  • Calories: 45

  • Total Fat: 0g

  • Cholesterol: 0mg

  • Sodium: 25mg

  • Potassium: 470mg

  • Total Carbohydrate: 11g

  • Total Sugars: 11g

  • Protein: 0g

  • Calcium: 4% DV

  • Magnesium: 4% DV

  • Phosphorus: 2% DV

2. May aid post-workout recovery

Coconut water is abundant in several electrolytes including potassium, sodium and magnesium. If you're working up a sweat, especially in the summer months when you may be sweating more, coconut water may prove to be very useful.

Chicago-based registered dietitian Maggie Michalczyk says that the electrolytes in coconut water can help to regulate fluid balance, prevent dehydration and even ensure proper muscle function. Of course, you'll want to make sure you refuel with enough carbohydrates and protein post-workout as well.

3. May reduce blood pressure and stroke risk

Bananas are notorious for their high potassium counts, but just one cup of coconut water contains more potassium than a medium sized banana. Research suggests that potassium-rich diets can help support heart health by reducing blood pressure and even protecting against stroke. Complimenting coconut water with other potassium-rich foods in your diet is ideal when it comes to supporting a healthy heart.

Photo credit: iuliia_n - Getty Images
Photo credit: iuliia_n - Getty Images

4. May support good digestion

Coconut water contains magnesium, a mineral that helps to keep things moving and prevent constipation says Michalcyzk. Adequate hydration in general is important for helping regulate bowel movements as well.

5. May promote healthy skin

Lack of proper hydration can lead to dry, tight, and even flaky skin. Drinking coconut water can contribute to your daily hydration needs which promotes circulation and radiant skin. Certain varieties of coconut water are fortified with vitamin C which has a slew of antioxidant properties and naturally stimulates collagen synthesis, which can help keep your skin firm and youthful-looking.

6. May reduce added sugar intake

Skip the sugary juices and sodas and instead reach for coconut water when you're in the mood for something other than water, says Michalczyk. Unlike sugar sweetened beverages, coconut water usually has little to no added sugar (in unflavored varieties). This makes it a great choice for diabetics or individuals looking to reduce their consumption of added sugar. Look for 100% coconut water not made from concentrate and opt for plain unflavored varieties for a no added sugar solution.

7. May help rehydrate when you're sick

If you're under the weather, the body can lose a tremendous amount of fluid from vomiting and diarrhea. Michalcyzk notes that coconut water can help with hydration status and balance electrolytes better than regular water in this scenario. Some brands even fortify their coconut water with vitamins C and D which can provide even better immune support.

Photo credit: pilipphoto - Getty Images
Photo credit: pilipphoto - Getty Images

8. May assist with weight management

Proper hydration is essential for nourishing every cell in the body and optimizing your metabolic rate. Many people mistake thirst for hunger, prompting them to overeat which can lead to weight gain. And even though coconut water has more calories than plain water, it is substantially lower in calories than other beverages like soda and juice. This simple swap can help you cut back on calories over the course of the week.

9. May help cure a hangover

If a little too much wine at happy hour left you feeling dehydrated and foggy the next day, Michalczyk offers a pro-tip to keep coconut water stocked in your fridge. She says it will help to replenish those electrolytes that drinking may have depleted and can be a great thirst quencher.

Are there any risks from drinking coconut water every day?

You may be wondering whether or not it is good to drink coconut water every day. For the general population, coconut water is generally considered safe to consume and provides a delicious source of natural electrolytes. But, there are a few exceptions to be aware of.

If you have renal failure, you'll want to be careful with drinking coconut water as it is high in potassium. Although this nutrient is normally healthy for the body, when kidneys fail they can no longer remove excess potassium and monitoring your intake is important. Coconut water may provide an unexpected but major source of potassium if consumed regularly, resulting in hyperkalemia which indicates too much potassium in the blood.

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