Coconut water is getting some serious attention lately. Fortunately, it deserves all of its praise.
Long touted for its health benefits in its home in tropical countries where it’s available all over the place (literally growing on trees). And more recently, the natural beverage is enjoying a worldwide burst of popularity.
Celebrity endorsements, government health agency support, and how genuinely tasty it can be, have all helped the coconut water hype train speed along, so much that it’s now the fastest growing soft drink sold in the UK.
The drink itself, obtained by drilling holes into the thick shells of the coconut fruit when it’s young and green, is a clear salty-sweet liquid. And with its huge rise in popularity, it can now be found in just about every health store you walk into, and you can even find it in your run-of-the-mill convenience and grocery stores.
So with all this new found fame, I figured coconut water must have some pretty legitimate benefits.
In the past, I’ve talked about coconut oil, and found some pretty fascinating information on its health effects. But with coconut water being the new trend, I thought I’d do some investigation.
So here’s a list of reasons why you should put down your fizzy, artificially flavored sugar drink and pick up a glass of coconut water instead.
It’s rich in nutrients
Coconut water is packed with natural vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that the body needs to function properly. It has even more nutrients than most fruit juices.
Some of these include:
- B complex vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates, which the body requires from external sources
- Vitamin C
- Bioactive enzymes like catalase, dehydrogenase, peroxidase, and acid phosphatase, which help boost the metabolism
- Potassium and other natural salts
It’s also full of amino acids, enzymes, and phytonutrients – organic compounds thought to promote human health by possibly preventing disease and keeping your body functioning properly.
It’s super hydrating
Forget about those sports drinks that professional athletes are paid to drink on the sideline. Coconut water is Mother Nature’s sports drink.
The reason the human body needs so much hydration during physical exercise comes down to some simple mechanics: water regulates your body temperature and keeps your joints lubricated, while at the same time transporting important nutrients around that keep you energized.
Sports drinks are helpful because of their calories, potassium, and electrolytes. Coconut water naturally contains all of these.
A glass of coconut water has 294 mg of potassium, nearly double that found in your average sports drink. American diets typically don’t contain the recommended daily value of potassium because they don’t include enough fruits and vegetables, so coconut water can be a big help.
It also has just 5 mg of natural sugar, compared to sports drinks, which have five times that in processed sugar.
Drink coconut water to replace those important, mineral rich fluids you’d otherwise lose during exercise, and be a more efficient athlete for it. And even if you aren’t an athlete, it’s a more effective way of replenishing your nutrients after working up a sweat.
Great for digestion
If you’re suffering from irregularity in your daily bathroom experience, you should consider drinking coconut water regularly.
In its home in the tropical parts of the world, coconut water is used to treat all manner of stomach related illnesses, like indigestion, constipation, stomach flu, intestinal worms, and even dysentery. It’s also been traditionally offered to patients suffering from diarrhea to replace body fluids.
Research has shown that coconut water can be used as a home remedy for otherwise healthy children who are suffering from diarrhea.
Because of the benefit coconut water provides with food absorption and its bioactive enzymes that can improve the overall digestive process, coconut water can lead to better health in general.
A natural diuretic
A diuretic is a fluid that causes your body to produce urine faster, making you urinate with greater frequency.
As a natural diuretic, coconut water can also alleviate pains from urinary tract infections and potentially prevent the chance of kidney stone complications by helping you flush out excess calcium, phosphate, and uric acid.
If you already have kidney stones, coconut water can help in breaking them down to make them pass more easily through your urinary tract.
Thanks to the aforementioned powerful hydrating effects and the abundance of electrolytes found in every glass, drinking enough coconut water will help you pass waste out of your body with much greater ease than plain old water.
Can aid in weight loss
Coconut water has zero cholesterol, so if you drink it in place of other drinks that are more likely to include cholesterol, you’d be doing your body a huge favor.
In an animal study performed in 2006, researchers found that rats given large quantities of coconut water showed increased ‘good’ cholesterol (high density lipoproteins, HDL), and decreased ‘bad’ cholesterol (low density lipoproteins, LDL). While proportionally, the amount of coconut water the rats were drinking was much higher than what a human would consume, the research still suggests the potential for positive benefits related to its consumption.
Coconut water also has fewer calories than other popular drinks like orange juice, and less fat than milk. Substituting it in for these other drinks, assuming you drink a lot of those to begin with, is a healthy alternative that can enhance your already-in-progress weight loss goals.
At only 42 calories per serving, coconut water is on the low side of the calorie spectrum when it comes to drinks that taste as sweet and refreshing as it does. Your average soda, say of the popular lemon-lime variety, has around 150 calories per 12-ounce can.
But be careful when you buy it from the store; some bottled coconut water beverages contain way higher quantities of sugar and more calories than are found in the drink when its straight from the coconut.
Can reduce stress and muscle tension
When you’re having a stressful day, your body and mind react as one, tensing up and leading to an overall feeling of discomfort. Coconut water might be just the thing to calm you down and ease your muscles.
Coconut water contains some critical vitamins and minerals that aren’t always as present in our diets as they should be. Some of these, like calcium and magnesium, are great for stress and muscle tension, and coconut water is an excellent source for both.
Consuming the appropriate amount of calcium in your diet helps keeps muscles relaxed. Remember, the heart itself is a muscle, and to keep it pumping smoothly means reducing your risk of a heart attack.
Magnesium has been linked to relaxation, as it helps the parasympathetic nervous system, while increasing serotonin output, the hormone created by the body that makes us feel like everything is going to be okay. When the body runs low on magnesium, you run the risk of developing serious health conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis, or increasing risk of asthma complications.
So instead of going to the bar after a long day’s work, maybe you should spend your evening laid back in an easy chair sipping on coconut water.
An awesome hangover cure
I’ll admit it, sometimes I find myself searching the web for the best possible hangover cure. For a friend, of course.
Hangovers are the body’s seemingly inescapable punishment for a night of too much fun, the result of the kidneys’ inability to flush all of the toxins out of our system.
Anyone who has suffered from a hangover or two in their lifetime knows finding a cure for the morning after can save you from a wasted day spent avoiding loud noises and bright lights.
Because coconut water contains a similar electrolyte profile to human blood, it’s an excellent way of rehydrating and replenishing the body’s nutrients. The huge amounts of the electrolyte potassium, mentioned earlier (four bananas worth), can help counteract the effects of the hangover on the body.
Not only will it settle your stomach, coconut water will restore the essential nutrients you lost after you got nauseous and likely ejected them from your body while vomiting – well, let’s just hope your hangover doesn’t get to that point!
Remember how I mentioned celebrity endorsements? This is why.
Coconut water has the richest natural dietary source of a little-known class of plant growth substances called cytokinins. Most people have never heard of these little guys, yet they may be key ingredients to a longer, healthier life.
They’re a type of phytohormone, plant hormones involved in the development and aging of plants, and consuming them regularly is now linked to anti-aging effects on human cells. When human cells are exposed to these cytokinins, the normal degenerative aging process of the cell slows down significantly.
Research into cytokinins has also demonstrated that they have a positive effect on inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells and tumors. This is why some health gurus have promoted coconut water as being a cure-all miracle elixir.
Benefits the immune system
Coconut water contains a high amount of the anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral lauric acid, used for treating infections and illnesses like different types of flu, the common cold, venereal diseases, autoimmune diseases, bronchitis, yeast infections, etc.
Lauric acid is a medium chain saturated fatty acid (MCFA) that is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, which has all the positive effects mentioned above. MCFAs are rapidly metabolized into energy by the liver, but unlike other fats, they are less likely to be stored in the body as fat.
Coconut water also contains antimicrobial biochemicals called peptides, which are ‘extremely efficient‘ in helping to slay those nasty harmful bacteria populating the body.
Good for the heart
In a study performed on Polynesian islanders, who consumed coconut itself in one form or another in just about every meal they ate, the islanders were found to have lower cholesterol, as well as lower rates of coronary heart disease. While this includes coconut milk and coconut oil, coconut water contains many of the same nutrients.
Because of coconut water’s observed effects on controlling cholesterol, the heart and aorta itself have lower cholesterol levels, which benefits the heart by helping it to maintain better overall health, fighting off chances of heart attack and stroke.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, has also been shown to be reduced by drinking one to two glasses of coconut water a day.
Who would have known that the humble coconut, usually reserved in the past to falling out of trees and bonking cartoon characters on their heads, could contain so many health benefits within it?
Including coconut water as part of your daily fluid intake sounds like a pretty fine idea to me, especially after learning all of these benefits. And because it’s made up of 95% water, it’s just as refreshing with the added sweetness of the sugar it contains.
Because of this sugar you shouldn’t completely substitute coconut water for your daily liquid consumption. 1 to 2 glasses a day can provide you with the positive health effects we’ve discussed, but you should still drink plenty of ordinary water.
If you intend to drink a lot more coconut water, you should maintain an active lifestyle to burn off any excess calories you obtain by drinking it rather than water.