Coconut water is a trendy beverage, as is evident by the many cartons and bottles in grocery stores. It is the clear liquid that some people refer to as the nectar of the gods. In tropical regions, coconut water has long been an integral component of diets and healthcare practices. Ayurveda, for example, used coconut water to help support urination, semen production, and digestion. Nowadays, though, people mainly drink it to boost hydration and increase electrolyte intake.
What Is Coconut Water?
Not to be confused with coconut milk, which combines coconut water and coconut meat, coconut water is the clear liquid inside coconuts. The right coconut water exhibits a sweet, nutty flavor profile. Younger coconuts tend to have the best tasting water, whereas the water in older coconuts with hardened meat tends to be more pungent. Coconut water is low in sugar and calories and contains potassium, magnesium, and sodium. These electrolytes work to replenish nutrients you lose via sweat. Although coconut water is not a replacement for regular water, it is better than any sugary sports drink you’ll find. Continue reading to learn more about the health benefits of this delicious elixir.
Coconut water is the natural, refreshing, healthier alternative to sugary sports drinks. One cup of coconut water, for example, contains 600 milligrams (mg) of potassium. That satisfies 16% of the daily value (DV) of potassium, which works to improve muscle contractions and kidney function. Additionally, potassium also works to regulate sodium levels in the body, which may help improve heart health. Coconut water also has fewer carbohydrates than bottled sports drinks, making it an excellent choice for post-workout rehydration.
Kidney Stone Prevention
According to U.S. health surveys, 6% of women and 11% of men experience kidney stones at least once in their lifetime. One of the best ways to avoid kidney stones is to stay hydrated. A 2018 study monitored participants without kidney stones who drank coconut water. The researchers noted that coconut water helped participants expel more citrate, chloride, and potassium during urination. That means that coconut water may help loosen stones or prevent them from forming. A 2021 study had similar findings, including the fact that coconut water may alleviate kidney damage from diabetes.
May Lower Blood Sugar
As of now, most of the studies about this ability involve animals, not humans. For that reason, more human studies are needed to confirm the following benefits on humans. A 2015 study found that rats with diabetes were able to maintain better blood sugar control when treated with coconut water. The same study observed that the rats that were given coconut water had lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, indicating better long-term blood sugar control. A separate 2021 study on rats with diabetes found that coconut water was able to reduce blood glucose levels. Another blood sugar benefit of coconut water is that it contains magnesium, which may help improve insulin sensitivity.
Reduce Your Added Sugar Intake
Now, there is something to clarify in regards to this benefit. If you buy coconut water from grocery stores, you have to make sure that there are no added sugars or “natural flavors” on the ingredient list. You should purchase 100% coconut water that doesn’t come from concentrate. Harmless Harvest coconut water, for example, is an excellent option that is pure coconut water. Drinking 100% coconut water ensures that you don’t consume added sugars that are commonly in sodas, bottled juices, coffee drinks, and sports drinks.
Great After Prolonged Exercise
As we mentioned earlier in this article, coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes. Replenishing electrolytes lost during exercise can help you maintain proper fluid balance and muscle function. Vital electrolytes include potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium, and coconut water happens to be rich in magnesium and potassium. Several studies found that drinking coconut water post workout is more beneficial than drinking water after exercise. A 2014 study found that coconut water improved exercise capacity better than a sports drink or water!
May Help Reduce Blood Pressure
Research suggests that including more potassium in your diet can help support heart health by reducing blood pressure. Potassium works to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps to reduce blood pressure. Most Americans consume more sodium than they do potassium, which can increase blood pressure and risk of stroke. Eating more potassium rich foods like coconut water can help blunt the effects of sodium.