What's Really In Coconut Water? Plus, 7 Health Benefits!
Coconut water refers to the clear liquid found inside young green fresh coconuts. Coconut water has been enjoyed for centuries by communities that have come to live on and rely upon coconuts for their incredible nutritional benefits. Today, the beverage has become a popular drink in modern society all over the globe for many of the same reasons. Indeed, medical professionals agree that coconut water has unique life-giving properties.
Not to be confused with coconut milk which is made from the meat of the coconut, the water contains enzymes, antioxidants, electrolytes and phytonutrients that have been shown to yield an array of health benefits. From lowering inflammation and blood pressure, to aiding digestion and weight loss, coconut water is one of nature’s most simple and profound gifts. Not only is coconut water a healthy beverage choice, it is also delicious, making it a favorable choice amongst people of all walks of life.
What's Really In Coconut Water?
Coconut water is the juice found in the center of a young, green coconut. Despite the name, the coconut is a fruit rather than a nut. The water helps nourish the fruit as it matures, which takes 10–12 months. Coconut water typically comes from young coconuts about 6–7 months of age, although it's also found in mature fruit. An average green coconut provides about 0.5-1 cups of coconut water. Interestingly enough, coconut water is actually made up of 94% water.
Pure coconut water contains no artificial additives or sweeteners, is cholesterol free, and 99 percent fat free. According to USDA information, coconut water is low in carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugars, and has approximately 46 calories per cup. It contains multiple vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals including potassium, zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, iodine, sulfur, manganese, ascorbic acid and B vitamins.
7 Health Benefits of Coconut Water
1. Electrolytes, Exercise & Hydration
Coconut water is a natural isotonic drink that provides many of the same benefits as formulated sports drinks yet in their natural form. Electrolytes are minerals that play several important roles in the body, these include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. These minerals occur naturally in the fluid of the coconuts.
Coconut water may in fact be the perfect beverage for restoring hydration and replenishing electrolytes lost during exercise. Studies have found that coconut water has similar hydrating properties to regular water and popular sports drinks, yet coconut water has been shown to cause less nausea, fullness and stomach upset than other beverages consumed after exercise. A study published in the June 2002 issue of the "Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science" actually found that consuming coconut water after exercise may be a more effective way to rehydrate than drinking plain water or a sports beverage. Furthermore, coconut water is also natural, free from added sugar, artificial ingredients and food colourings and is also lower in carbohydrates and sugar compared to sports drinks, making it a preferred choice for those watching their weight.
2. Anti-Aging and Beauty
Coconut water has been shown to promote smoother, more youthful-looking skin. It is a natural source of cytokinins, a group of plant growth hormones that help regulate cell growth, development and ageing. Rich in potassium, antioxidants and lauric acid, cytokinins are said to balance pH levels, strengthen and hydrate connective tissues, reduce the risk of age-related diseases and can even slow down the development of cancer cells. Applied topically coconut water may even help to reduce acne, cellulite, eczema, stretch marks, wrinkles and age spots. It also moisturizes the skin from within and can help to balance oil levels in the skin.
3. Emergency Blood Transfusions
One of the most fascinating facts about coconut water is that it is incredibly similar to human plasma, and can be used in emergencies to quickly rehydrate the human body if administered intravenously. It is not uncommon to be used in this way in third world countries, and was also commonly used during World War Two, siphoned directly from the nut to provide emergency transfusions for wounded soldiers. It is also used in extreme cases for dehydration-related ailments such as cholera and gastroenteritis. According to a case study published in the "American Journal of Emergency Medicine" in January 2000, electrolyte balance was successfully restored in patients by treating them with an IV of coconut water, which flowed directly from the coconut. Do note this is for emergency situations only and should be administered by a professional medical practitioner.
4. Regulates Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
Research shows that coconut water can improve blood circulation, lower elevated blood pressure, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. One study showed that patients given coconut water for two weeks showed lower blood pressure levels than those who were administered regular water. The potassium in coconut water has been shown to have the ability to counteract the effect of sodium in the body and can help lower blood pressure. The high level of electrolytes in coconut water have also shown to improve recovery times for those patients who has already had a heart attack.
5. Good For Digestive and Urinary Health
For centuries, coconut water has been used to treat a range of digestive and urinary ailments including stomach flu, dysentery, indigestion, constipation, intestinal worms, bladder infections and malfunctioning kidneys. As a natural diuretic, it is said to prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones. Coconut water has also been shown to reduce bloating and nausea and can be extremely beneficial for those suffering from dehydration caused by digestive issues including vomiting and diarrhea.
6. Cleansing and Detox
Coconut water is an ideal beverage to replace fluids and help remove toxins from the body. The fat content in coconut water is extremely low and it also suppresses appetite due to its rich nature. Coconut water is often used by people cleansing or detoxing as it is a good way to stay hydrated, energized and nourished without the need for solid food. Its natural cleansing nature also supports and removes toxins from the liver and kidneys. Because of its high concentration of fiber, it aids in digestion, and can help prevent indigestion and acid reflux.
7. Reduce Stress and Muscle Tension
The electrolytes found in coconut water can also help relieve stress and muscle tension in the body. Calcium and magnesium are critical nutrients that help soothe muscle relaxation and these are found in abundance in coconut water. For athletes, enjoying coconut water after strenuous activity can assist the body to unwind and recover, just as an Epsom salt bath would do.
The myriad of benefits of coconut water offers make it a popular choice for people at all ages of life. Whether enjoyed for its delicious flavor and convenience or to assist with specific health ailments, coconut water may just be the perfect choice when it comes to staying hydrated.
Be aware of the fact that some brands of coconut water on the market add sweeteners or additional flavors that change the nutritional qualities of the coconut water. Do check the Nutritional Facts label and ingredients when purchasing store-bought coconut water.