by Katherine Marengo LDN, R.D: Coconut water is made from the clear liquid inside green coconuts, and it contains electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals…
About 95%Trusted Source of coconut water is just water. As such, it can help prevent or treat dehydration.
In tropical regions, coconut water has long been a part of diets and healthcare practices. Some practitioners of traditional Ayurvedic medicine, for example, use coconut water to support digestion, urination, and semen production.
Below, we explore seven health benefits of coconut water and the science behind them.
Coconut water contains natural electrolytes. For example, 1 cup has 600 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source of potassium, which is 16%Trusted Source of the daily value (DV). Potassium plays a vital roleTrusted Source in the body, including helping with kidney function and muscle contractions.
Coconut water may be a natural alternative to sports drinks such as Gatorade. While coconut water often has more potassium than the average sports drink, it tends to have less sodium, the main electrolyte lost in sweat.
In addition, it has fewer carbohydrates than many sports drinks. This means that it might not provide enough of an energy boost during a strenuous or long workout, but it can help with rehydration afterward.
One cup of coconut water contains 45 caloriesTrusted Source. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics emphasizes that it is a great substitute for drinks such as sodas and juices, which are generally high in calories, sugars, and carbohydrates.
Anyone who finds plain water unappetizing may find that drinking coconut water throughout the day improves their hydration.
Staying hydrated may help:
- boost energy levels
- support digestion
- improve cognition
- reduce joint pain
- manage weight
- prevent kidney stones
- regulate body temperature
- reduce the occurrence of headaches
- improve heart health
Coconut water contains several nutrients beyond potassium, including calcium and magnesium.
One cup of coconut water contains about 600 mgTrusted Source of potassium, while for context, a medium banana contains 420 mgTrusted Source. For anyone looking to increase their potassium intake, coconut water may be a good choice.
Potassium helps keep fluid and electrolyte levels balanced, especially during exercise. And because there is more potassium than sodium in coconut water, the potassium may help balance out the sodium’s effects on blood pressure — and it may even help lowerTrusted Source blood pressure.
Calcium supports the strength of bones and teeth, and it helps muscles contract and work properly. One cup of coconut water contains about 56 mgTrusted Source of calcium, 4%Trusted Source of the DV.
Magnesium helps move calcium and potassium into the muscles, and it also helps with energy production and organ function. One cup of coconut water has about 60 mgTrusted Source of magnesium, which is 14%Trusted Source of the DV.
However, coconut water is not a concentrated source of calcium or magnesium, so the body needs to absorb these nutrients from other sources, as well.
Coconut water may help promote heart health. Its potassium may help reduceTrusted Source blood pressure. In addition, an older study found that coconut water may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Though coconut water can play a role in a heart healthy diet, a person should still follow dietary recommendations from their doctor.
Coconut water contains antioxidants, which help neutralize oxidative stress and free radicals.
While several studies over the years have looked into the antioxidants in coconut water, relatively few have included human participants.
One of the more recent studies, published in 2016, found that coconut water’s high potency antioxidants helped reduce cholesterol markers in rats.
Drinking unsweetened coconut water instead of sugary beverages may help a person with diabetes control their blood sugar levels. However, unsweetened coconut water contains natural sugars, so a person may need to limit their intake.
In a 2015 studyTrusted Source that involved a rat model of diabetes, researchers found that coconut water led to improvements in blood sugar control and a reduction in overall blood sugar levels.
Drinking coconut water regularly may help promote kidney health. According to a 2018 study in participants without kidney stones, coconut water helped them lose more citrate, potassium, and chloride during urination, indicating that coconut water might help loosen stones or prevent them from forming.
In a 2021 studyTrusted Source in rats, researchers found similar benefits. They also cite several earlier findings that coconut water may help alleviate kidney damage from diabetes.
Drinking coconut water or applying it to the skin may have a moisturizing effect. In addition, a 2015 study found that consuming coconut water helped prevent damage from free radicals in rats. If this is true for humans, the drink may help reduce signs of aging, though confirming this requires more research.
In a 2017 studyTrusted Source, scientists proposed that coconut water has an antimicrobial effect, suggesting that applying it to the skin could help treat acne.
A person can typically drink coconut water during pregnancy, as long as it has been refrigerated and has not expired.
The electrolytes in coconut water could helpTrusted Source replenish those lost during morning sickness, and the nutrients in it may benefit the developing fetus.
Anyone who has doubts about drinking coconut water during pregnancy should discuss them with a healthcare professional, who can provide specific guidance.
Pure coconut water contains 45 caloriesTrusted Source in 1 cup, making it a healthy replacement for more sugary drinks. Making this swap may support weight loss efforts and help with maintaining a moderate weight.
If a person prefers coconut water to plain water, incorporating more coconut water in the diet could boost hydration, and this, too, can help with weight loss.
Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes and nutrients, and it can represent a healthy, flavorful way to stay hydrated.
Among other benefits, it may support heart and kidney health.
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