In recent years, the phrase “coconut water” has been popping up everywhere as a trendy health drink. One can find them in every supermarket and grocery store while many celebrities are investing in coconut water claiming the health benefits this beverage brings.
**Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you click on them I and make a purchase I may make a commission at no extra cost to you**
What exactly is coconut water and is it really good for you?
What is coconut water?
Coconut water is the clear sap found inside the coconut fruit (botanically classified as a drupe) which comes from the flowers of the coconut palm tree.
When the coconut flowers are fertilized, the coconut fruits in their early development during the nuclear phase has coconut water which acts as a suspension for the endosperm of the coconut fruit.
This endosperm structure forms the edible portion of the coconut fruit – the coconut water and the coconut meat called copra.
Read also Is Coconut Oil Good For You?
For the maximum amount of coconut water to be found in a coconut fruit, the coconut fruit has to be harvested when it is immature. Ideally, that would be when the young fruit is around six months of age. This is because as the coconut fruit matures, the coconut water gradually solidifies to be part of the copra.
In some parts of the world, trained pig-tailed macaques are used to pick coconuts while others are harvested by humans who either climb the tree to get the fruit by hand or cut the coconut using a long pole with a knife attached to the end.
These coconuts are refrigerated to be stored for up to two months as they only last for two weeks at room temperature. Fallen coconuts left on the ground are susceptible to rot and damage from insects and animals. Of course, coconut water served fresh from chilled coconuts is the best.
Although you may be able to find coconuts cut and cling-wrapped ready for consumption in the grocery departments now, coconuts used to be only sold by street vendors. These sellers would cut the coconuts open in front of their customers, either using a machete to chop off the top of the husk or boring a hole into the largest eye (germination pore) of the coconut, for the buyer to access the coconut water.
As the liquid and air in the coconut is under pressure, one would observe their spray when the coconut inner husk is first penetrated. Depending on where the coconut trees are grown, different varieties of coconuts produce coconut water that tastes slightly different from each other.
These days, coconut water is available readily processed for retail; packaged in cans, bottles, and Tetra Paks; with or without added sugars and flavours. As with all foods, one should consume those that are labelled a hundred percent natural without added sugar, flavourings, preservatives, and colouring.
In its natural form, coconut water is clear and light, mildly sweet and sometimes slightly sour, and has a refreshing thirst-quenching hydrating effect on our bodies.
Nutritional facts of coconut water
With modern science, one can now get facts about the nutritional value of foods we consume and how they compare with other foods on the table of Percent Daily Values based on a diet of two thousand calories.
For the different varieties of coconut water, the average nutritional value per 100 grams is as compiled in the following table:
Nutritional Value Coconut Water per 100g
|Nutrition Information||Amounts||Percent Daily Values|
|From Carbohydrate||14.8 kcal|
|From Fat||1.7 kcal|
|From Protein||2.5 kcal|
|Dietary Fiber||1.1 g||4%|
|Polyunsaturated||0.002 g of Total Omega-6|
|Aspartic acid||0.070 g|
|Glutamic acid||0.165 g|
|Vitamin C||2.4 mg||3%|
|Thiamine (B1)||0.030 mg||3%|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.057 mg||5%|
|Niacin (B3)||0.080 mg||1%|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.043 mg||1%|
|Vitamin B6||0.032 mg||2%|
|Folate (B9)||3 mcg||1%|
As seen in the table above, a 100 ml of coconut water is 95 percent water and provides 19 calories with 4 percent carbohydrates and protein and fat under 1 percent each. It also contains vitamins and minerals that are under 10 percent of the Daily Value.
Of course a cup of coconut water, that is 240 ml, would thus contain 46 calories of which the majority comes from the 8.9 grams of carbohydrates where 6.26 grams are from sugar and 2.6 grams are from fiber and that is 9.3 percent of your daily needs for fiber based on a typical diet of 2000 calories. In this case, a cup of coconut water would contain 1.78 grams of proteins and still less than a gram of total fat.
This indeed makes coconut water a low-fat drink. Accordingly, the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals would be multiplied too, making the amounts ideal for human health. The high potassium levels enables it to be a high electrolyte beverage containing sodium and up to 10 percent of your daily calcium and magnesium needs. One coconut yields about 206 ml of coconut water.
Hence coconut water is deemed a healthier alternative to sodas and juices that are mostly packed with sugars and calories because pure coconut water from the coconut fruit is a natural beverage with no artificial additives or sweeteners and is free of cholesterol, almost fat free, low in calories, carbohydrates and natural sugars, and high in vitamins and minerals.
However be aware of packaged coconut water sitting on the supermarket shelves. Firstly, the shelf life for all of the components mentioned above may not be active after they have been on the shelves for a while. Secondly, branded versions of coconut water are likely to be higher in sugar although that might still have less sugar and calories content compared to many juices, sodas, and sports drinks. Note that these sugars are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream because they are not bound to fiber.
Always check the labels to ensure the product is as fresh and natural as you can get.
Health benefits of coconut water
So what do all that above nutritional facts mean for our bodily health when we consume coconut water?
If you are like me, the first thing you would notice from the nutrition information table above is that coconut water is 95 percent water H2O!
Some people love the taste of bland tasteless odourless water while others find that they have a problem consuming the recommended at least 7 glasses a day of this tasteless liquid. Well, the catch is, you don’t have to drink all of that water as about 20 percent of our daily water intake comes from fruits, vegetables, and other solid foods.
Although it is still essential to drink a lot of water, one may also consume hydrating foods which are at least 90 percent water by weight. In this case, with 95 percent water by weight, coconut water comes in handy to provide the same amount, with minimal difference, of hydration as water or a sports drink for humans.
However, some experience coconut water as more hydrating than plain water in hot and humid climates where they often get dehydrated due to heavy perspiration. This is because the minerals in coconut water speed up the absorption of its 95 percent water through the gut wall and rehydrates bodies quicker as it is readily absorbed into the body due to its composition and salt concentration being similar to body tissue fluids.
It might be interesting to note that such consistency of coconut water being identical to human blood plasma allows it to be used intravenously to rehydrate the body with its water and salt content in extreme emergencies.
When one maintains one’s body at its optimal hydration, weight loss occurs. While hydration itself does not directly eliminate those extra fats, failure to drink enough fluids lead to dehydration that causes metabolism to slow down and burn less calories – something that one must avoid while attempting to get rid of excess fats.
To increase one’s metabolism, one may drink a glass of coconut water in the morning on an empty stomach. Due to its water content and electrolytes, that would stimulate one’s metabolism similar to drinking a glass of water and eating a banana in the morning.
Being a beverage that is lower in fat and calories than your juices, sodas, and sports drinks; replacing all these with coconut water for hydration would definitely lead to weight loss as you are consuming lesser calories and almost zero fat.
Moreover, coconut water is high in fiber and would make one feel satiated and full for a longer period of time, causing one to actually eat less of other foods. Similarly, this would lead to weight loss as one eats lesser and consumes lesser calories and fats.
If one is concerned about losing body water weight in the form of reducing water retention and bloating, the diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties of coconut water would definitely aid in body water weight loss.
Nature’s Sports Drink
The composition of coconut water makes it an all natural isotonic performance drink similar to traditional formulated sports drink with regard to benefits but better in that all needed substances are in their natural purest form without the artificial components made by man.
Coconut water perform as well as sports drink to keep you hydrated and replenish lost fluids for whole body rehydration after exercise and workouts. However, coconut water does not cause nausea and stomach upset. Therefore one can consume more coconut water than sports drink and plain water.
When one engages in sports, exercises, and workouts, such strenuous activities require constant muscular movement which uses up minerals.
It is essential to replace them as soon as possible to avoid muscle breakdown and electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are the essential minerals and salts that regulate blood pressure and its pH as well as muscle and nerve function in our body.
Coconut water consists of all these required minerals and is readily absorbed into the body due to its isotonicity with interstitial fluid and blood plasma and thus can quickly restore fluid volume in our blood and tissues. This is important because dehydrating any tissue or organ in the body has severe consequences like drop in blood pressure and irregular heartbeat which can be fatal.
On a less severe level, coconut water’s minerals can also prevent muscle cramps by regulating muscle contraction during long periods of exercise and thus keeps one going.
Coconut water can also boost energy levels and increase body metabolism.
Consuming coconut water after exercise improves endurance and athletic performance. This is due to the carbohydrate it contains in the form of glucose and its various minerals.
However, coconut water is lower in carbohydrates compared to sports drinks and therefore beneficial for those watching their sugar intake. In addition, coconut water has amino acids which are needed to repair the tissues and helps your body respond to the stress of a strenuous workout.
Exercising also creates oxidative stress and free radicals which can be neutralized by the antioxidants in coconut water.
Reduce Stress & Muscle Tension
There is a high level of magnesium found in coconut water. Magnesium is a relaxation mineral as its primary function is in the parasympathetic part of the nervous system that causes us to relax.
It also aids in producing serotonin which is the hormone that makes humans feel good and less depressed. These properties work in stress management and helps one to remain calm. The calcium in coconut water also relaxes the body muscles themselves.
Strong Bones & Teeth
Coconut water has calcium which is a mineral essential for strong bones and teeth. As you exercise, your bones slightly break down due to the muscles pulling on them. These bones use calcium to get strong again and repair as our body recovers.
Body Cleansing & Detox
With the correct nutrients and hydration, our body can naturally cleanse and detox by itself. With adequate water, our detoxifying organs – liver and kidneys – are able to remove toxins in the body. On the other hand, water or electrolyte loss that leads to dehydration affects the kidneys’ ability to flush out toxins and causes fatigue, irritability, confusion, and extreme thirst.
Purposely fasting by drinking coconut water only is called a coco water cleanse or detox. As coconut water is rich and balanced in vital nutrients, it brings about great healing to the body. Coconut water also provides adequate energy to allow the fasting person to continue with his or her normal activities.
Regular Bowel Movement
Regular bowel movement removes toxins as soon as possible whereas constipation accumulates these toxins in the digestive tract which causes many health issues. Fiber aids in this elimination process and coconut water is one of the natural beverages that contain the highest amount of fiber despite it being a naturally occurring clear liquid.
Most fruit juices have poor fiber content due to juicing its fruit which removes the solid parts that is usually fibers to end up with only the liquid parts that is the juice with little to no fibers. Coconut water has soluble fibers in its liquid. Fiber has zero calories and is important for good colon health.
Good Digestive Health
Coconut water is able to treat digestive ailments like indigestion, acid reflux, stomach flu, dysentery, and intestinal worms.
It is particularly used to resolve dyspepsia, that is, an upset stomach. Dyspepsia is due to an inflamed stomach lining that could be caused by indigestion, gastrointestinal infection, and food allergies. An inflamed stomach lining loses minerals and is unable to absorb water and sugars from foods.
Coconut water is able to soothe the stomach lining as it contains tannins with antibacterial properties to reduce inflammation. It can readily replace the traditional BRAT diet remedy for upset stomachs due to its easily absorbed soluble state.
Coconut water also contains lauric acid that is found in breast milk. The body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which has antimicrobial properties and therefore able to treat bacterial and protozoan infections and stomach flu.
Good Urinary Health Prevents Kidney Stones & UTIs
Coconut water is a natural diuretic due to its high potassium level and increases urine flow by helping the kidneys flush out toxins to prevent urinary tract infections. Its process dilutes the urine which prevents the formation of kidney stones and can also flush out existing kidney stones from the body. Kidney stones are formed when calcium and oxalate combine to form crystals in urine which in turn form stones.
Coconut water reduce free radical production that occur in response to high oxalate levels and reduces the number of crystals formed while keeping the crystals from sticking to the kidneys and urinary tract. In addition, the arginine in coconut water also increases blood circulation to all organs including the kidneys to maintain good kidney health.
Heart Tonic Controls Blood Pressure & Cholesterol
Coconut water promotes good heart health and reduce cardiovascular disease risk by lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol in the heart while increasing good cholesterol throughout.
The calcium relaxes our heart muscle which in turn lowers the risk of heart attacks. The potassium regulates heartbeat, muscle contractions, cholesterol, and nerve impulses.
Potassium can lower blood pressure in hypertension cases by counteracting the sodium in the body which causes high blood pressure and water retention. When water is retained, it increases blood volume and increases blood pressure.
As a diuretic, the potassium in coconut water helps the kidneys to flush out excess water and reduces blood pressure. High blood pressure can also be caused by an imbalance of electrolytes in the body.
Coconut water with its balanced level of electrolytes is used to treat the disproportionate level. Arginine in coconut water relaxes blood vessels and improve blood circulation. Together, the minerals in coconut water produce antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-thrombotic properties, which reduce plaque formation and blood clots in arteries thereby lowering risks of heart diseases and strokes.
Fit For Diabetics
Coconut water can easily fit into a diabetic meal plan as it moderates sugar absorption to maintain good blood sugar control. Magnesium in coconut water improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar levels.
Headaches & Migraines Remedy
Most headaches, including migraines, are triggered by dehydration. Coconut water is able to quickly supply and balance the electrolytes in the body and combat this pain with a boost in hydration.
The potassium in coconut water regulates the body water level so that it does not become dehydrated or retain water. The magnesium in coconut water reduces the frequency of migraine attacks.
Consuming more alcohol than one can handle leads to hangovers. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating and lost fluids need to be replaced. Coconut water is able to rehydrate the body quickly. If vomiting also occurs which causes more loss of electrolytes, coconut water would quickly replace them as well as settle an acid stomach.
Suitable For Vomiting, Diarrhoea, Blood Loss
When one loses blood, has diarrhoea, or throws up, one would be dehydrated and coconut water can be given as a means of hydration as its taste is tolerable for people with nausea and even those who suffer from an aversion to food due to the metallic taste on their tongues.
Supplement For Pregnancy
Coconut water is useful for morning sickness as the nauseous is able to keep it in and replace the fluids lost through throwing up. Pregnant and lactating mothers require extra nutrition that coconut water can provide and it even has folate which is proven beneficial to babies and reduces anaemia during pregnancy. Coconut water can also help to relieve heartburn during pregnancy.
Aids In Malnutrition
Coconut water is a natural health drink with contents better than other health drink formulas for adults, kids, elderly, and convalescents suffering from malnutrition and cannot derive sufficient nutrition from food.
Manages Cell Growth
The naturally occurring enzymes in coconut water generates energy, breaks down harmful growth, and supports tissue growth.
Coconut water contains malic acid which helps to treat this rheumatic condition.
Malic acid combined with magnesium, both found in coconut water, helps to break down gall stones.
Coconut water contains cytokinin – the naturally occurring plant hormone that reduces cancer cells growth by influencing cell division. In particular, the type of cytokinin called gibberellin that is found in coconut water has anti-tumour properties. Another type called kinetin, also found in coconut water, is especially effective for mammary carcinomas, myeloma, and hepatoma.
The cytokinins present in coconut water is an anti-aging hormone that delays the effects of aging. With natural aging, degenerative changes occurs and bodies develop age-related diseases but cytokinins are able to inhibit them by causing human cells to be more vibrant and youthful. Coconut water has the richest dietary source of cytokinins. In particular, the type of cytokinin called kinetin slows down cellular aging especially for sun-damaged skin.
Heals Arterial Thrombosis
Kinetin found in coconut water has anti-platelet properties and therefore is able to heal thrombosis.
Coconut water contains GABA which is the neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety and convulsions, and helps to relax the body.
Improves Memory & Learning
The glutamic acid in coconut water is the amino acid essential for memory and learning.
Treats Neurological Diseases
Coconut water has trans-zeatin which is another type of cytokinin used for treating Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Rich In Antioxidants
During metabolism, free radicals are produced and they increase with stress and injury. Too many of these free radicals would place the body under oxidative stress which damage cells and increase the risk of diseases. Coconut water provides antioxidants to scavenge and modify these damaging free radicals so that they are no longer harmful and the body cells are protected.
Carbohydrate in coconut water, turned into glucose in the body, is a vital nutrient for skin health because glucose is the primary source of energy for skin cells. Consuming insufficient carbohydrates affects skin structure and appearance.
Vitamin C in coconut water is another essential nutrient for skin health because it makes the collagen required for skin firmness and elasticity as well as heals wounds and prevents scurvy and dry dull skin. As an antioxidant, it protects skin against sun-damage.
Cytokinin in coconut water protects the skin from premature aging and wrinkles thus making it smoother and younger.
With its hydrating properties, coconut water when ingested orally will moisturise the skin from within and eliminate oils. Its anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties, promote skin healing for those with skin infections.
Interestingly, coconut water may also be used topically. Splash coconut water on skin to rehydrate and freshen the skin to achieve glowing skin. The oils in coconut water acts as a natural skin barrier. For more serious skin problems, coconut water can be used to clear and tone skin with acne and blemishes as well as reduce cellulite, eczema, stretch marks, age spots, and saggy skin.
If one does not have a specific health condition, coconut water can be consumed as a general health tonic to improve overall health and energy for body revitalization.