by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
You may have seen those large coconuts on the beach and wondered if they have any practical use other than to put in alcohol and a colorful umbrella. The answer, my friend, is a resounding yes! There are many benefits to be experienced from drinking coconut water.
Here’s the caveat, though, and that is you need to drink real coconut water and not that bottled nastiness full of artificial ingredients and unwanted added sugars and sweeteners.
In this article, we will look at seven of the major health benefits that only real coconut water can provide. So, put down your fruity umbrella drinks, and let’s get into it!
1. Great Source of Nutrients
Coconuts grow in tropical climates on trees that are scientifically called Cocos nucifera and are considered a fruit.
Coconut water is the liquid that is found inside a young, green coconut. It helps in nourishing the fruit. As the coconut starts to mature (which takes around 10-12 months), some of the liquid remains inside while the rest ripens into a solid white flesh which is known as coconut meat.
The water you find in coconut water products generally comes from young coconuts, which are about 6-7 months old, though it is also found in mature coconuts. An average young green coconut provides around 1/2-1 cup of coconut water. When you think about that, it takes a boatload of coconuts to have a beverage business in that particular industry.
Coconut water is made up of around 94% water and has very little fat. One cup (240 ml) of coconut water contains 60 kcal, as well as many other nutrients:
- Carbs: 15 grams
- Calcium: 4% of the daily value (DV)
- Sugar: 8 grams
- Magnesium: 4% of the DV
- Potassium: 15% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 2% of the DV
2. Aids In Hydration
One of the main health benefits of coconut water is that it contains electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium. These are essential minerals for the body to function properly.
When we are dehydrated, our body does not receive enough of these minerals, which can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and headaches, among other things. Coconut water helps to replenish these vital minerals so that you can stay hydrated throughout your day without any issues or adverse effects — especially if you work out in the heat or sweat profusely during workouts.
3. Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidants are substances that help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced during normal metabolic processes that can damage your DNA and lead to cancer or other diseases if antioxidants don’t neutralize them.
Coconut water contains antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals and oxidative stress.
While many studies over the years have studied the antioxidants in coconut water, relatively few have included any human participants.
According to one study published in 2016, it was found that coconut water’s high potency antioxidant properties helped decrease cholesterol markers in rats.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar
Coconut water may manage blood sugar levels in diabetic animals, but studies on humans are still lacking. Nevertheless, coconut water has magnesium, which has its own set of health benefits.
Magnesium can help improve insulin sensitivity. In addition to that, it can also reduce blood sugar levels in Type 2 prediabetes and diabetes.
That being said, it is also important to keep in mind that coconut water has the presence of natural carbohydrates. Our body converts carbs into sugar, so if you have diabetes, consult your doctor before including coconut water in your diet to ensure it is safe for you to consume and how you should do so appropriately.
According to research that involved rats that had diabetes, it was found that coconut water led to improvements in blood sugar control and a decrease in overall blood sugar levels.
5. Beneficial After Workout
Coconut water is one of the most popular drinks in the world. If you’ve ever had it, you’d know it’s naturally delicious. It is high in potassium and electrolyte content, which makes it beneficial for overall health. Coconut water can be consumed in any season, but it is especially beneficial after working out. The electrolytes present in coconut water help replenish the body with lost fluids, crucial minerals, and nutrients.
After a workout or training session, your body loses a lot of water through sweat. When this happens, you may feel thirsty and have other symptoms like dizziness and fatigue as well. Coconut water provides instant hydration to your body and helps to replenish these losses relatively quickly.
Coconut water also contains amino acids that help build muscle mass and aid in recovery after workouts. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce soreness caused by strenuous exercises like running or weight training.
6. Prevents Kidney Stones
Coconut water contains high levels of potassium, which helps to prevent the formation of kidney stones. It also contains sodium and magnesium that help to maintain an electrolyte balance in the body and prevent dehydration, which is necessary to prevent the formation of kidney stones.
According to a 2018 study on people without kidney stones, coconut water helped them to excrete potassium, citrate, and chloride during urination. This indicates that coconut water can help loosen stones or prevent them from forming. It can also play a role in helping those who suffer from various kidney diseases.
7. Promotes Weight Loss
The high fiber content in coconut water helps promote digestion, which means less bloating after meals and fewer digestive issues overall. In addition, the drink keeps you full longer so you don’t feel like snacking between meals — something that can help you eat less overall and lose weight faster than those who don’t drink it regularly.