The Truth About Coconut Water, According to Experts
Although coconut water has grown in popularity over the past few years, this beverage, dubbed "nature's sports drink," has been around for centuries. 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.
The refreshing beverage is great on its own or used in healthy smoothie recipes, and its known for its slightly sweet and nutty flavor.
Here's everything you need to know about the drink, including nutrition facts, coconut water health benefits and potential side effects.
1 . Provides a good source 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:
Total Fat: 0g
Total Carbohydrate: 11g
Total Sugars: 11g
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, 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 the tap, 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.
6. 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.
7. May assist with weight management
You may be wondering if coconut water is good for weight loss. Well, we know that proper hydration is essential for nourishing every cell in the body and optimizing your metabolic rate. 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.
8. 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.
Coconut Water Side Effects
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.
How to Choose the Best Coconut Water
Ideally, coconut water should have only one ingredient. We recommend opting for varieties that are 100% coconut water without any added sugar, flavorings or additives. If you don't love the taste of coconut water on its own, try incorporating it into smoothies or mixed with sparkling water or a little juice.
Coconut water can be a great way to rehydrate and provide the body a slew of nutrients and electrolytes. Chose plain varieties when possible that are not made from concentrate to stay hydrated throughout the day.
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