Whether you’re adding it to your smoothies or (if you’re feeling really creative) making it into ice cubes, nothing beats the refreshing taste of coconut water during the hot summer months.
Unlike coconut milk, which comes from coconut flesh and has a white color and thicker consistency, coconut water is the clear liquid that comes from the inside of coconuts. And it’s not just packed with flavor—it’s also high in nutritional value. Long story short: There are a lot of benefits of coconut water. Here are the ones to know about.
Here’s the nutritional breakdown of coconut water:
- Calories: 45.6
- Carbohydrates: 8.9 grams
- Protein: 1.7 grams
- Fiber: 2.6 grams
- Vitamin C: 10% of the recommended daily intake
- Manganese: 17% of the recommended daily intake
- Potassium: 17% of the recommended daily intake
- Sodium: 11% of the recommended daily intake
- Calcium: 6% of the recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 15% of the recommended daily intake
8 health benefits of coconut water
This is one of the biggest advantages of drinking coconut water. Being hydrated not only keeps your body functioning properly, but research shows hydration improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood.
“By and large, coconut water is simply a fun and delicious way to consume more water. I recommend that people drink their body weight in ounces of water each day,” says Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN.
For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would consume 150 ounces of water. “Sometimes people find it difficult or ‘boring’ to drink so much water, so it can be nice to switch things up a bit and add beverages like coconut water or unsweetened iced herbal teas. Coconut water does intrinsically contain sugar and sodium, so I would recommend drinking no more than one coconut water per day,” Poon explains.
It’s low calorie
“One cup of coconut water has just 44 calories, which is less than the amount of most popular sports drinks,” Dr. Stacie Stephenson, Certified Nutrition Specialist and CEO of VibrantDoc, states. “Of course, that’s 44 more calories than in a glass of water, so don’t overdo it. A cup or two after a workout is plenty.”
Pro tip: You can also dilute coconut water with regular water to cut the calories further.
It has electrolytes
Coconut water also contains several electrolytes that support increased hydration. In fact, studies show it’s on par with the electrolytes in sports beverages.
“Coconut water is an excellent source of potassium, and also contains magnesium, calcium, and sodium in lesser amounts. Though it is often touted as a sports drink, coconut water may not contain enough sodium to replenish those engaging in intense exercise, Poon explains. “That being said, the general population arguably does not get enough potassium and consumes more than enough sodium, so coconut water can be a great way to consume some essential electrolytes.”
Being packed with vitamins and minerals is what makes coconut water so nutritious. “Considering the prevalence of mineral deficiencies in Americans, especially those who eat a standard American diet, coconut water is a great way to hydrate while also shoring up minerals,” says Dr. Stephenson. “Coconut water naturally contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, and phosphorous, as well as vitamin C and thiamin. You won’t get all that from a sugary sports drink.”
It has antioxidants
Having antioxidants in your diet is essential to staying healthy and youthful from the inside out. “Antioxidants are important compounds that help protect your cells from the damage of free radicals,” Poon states. “These free radicals can come from environmental exposure to toxins, as a byproduct of processed foods or stress, and from your body’s natural metabolic process and cause oxidative stress.”
Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of aging and diseases that come with aging.“Eating a diet that is high in antioxidants, e.g., a diet that is rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, can help protect your body from this deleterious process,” Poon explains. “Studies have shown that coconut water may deliver antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals.”
It stabilizes blood sugar
Keeping your blood sugar levels balanced also keeps your energy and mood balanced. And healthy eating is what will keep your blood sugar stable. “Coconut water contains substances that research shows can help to keep blood sugar steady and decrease HbA1c levels (a measure of blood sugar over time),” says Dr. Stephenson.
It may help lower blood pressure
Research demonstrates that coconut water may be helpful for managing hypertension.“One reason that this may be true is because of potassium content,” Poon states. “Potassium helps balance sodium in the body, which supports healthy blood pressure. If you are living with hypertension, you would likely want to moderate (check with your doctor!) coconut water intake because of the sugar content. High sugar intake is linked to higher blood pressure.”
Magnesium is an important mineral that plays a role in 300 different enzyme systems in the body that impact everything from muscle to nerve to cardiovascular function. Magnesium may also support stress release, sleep quality and help relieve constipation.
“Though it is one of the most important minerals in the body, it is very common to not consume enough magnesium in your diet, Poon explains. “A 16-ounce container of coconut water contains about 8% of your daily value, which isn’t a ton, but it’s a delicious way to consume more of this important nutrient.”
Is it safe to drink coconut water every day?
Yes, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. “Generally, it is likely safe to consume coconut water every day, but I would personally limit consumption to just one per day,” says Poon. “Even if coconut water has no added ingredients, it does contain quite a bit of sugar intrinsically. Some brands also add sweeteners and flavors, I would avoid these brands if possible.”
Too much sugar in your diet can be extremely damaging to your overall health.
“Overconsumption of sugar is linked to many conditions, such as higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. People living with kidney disease may want to use caution with coconut water, as high potassium consumption can be detrimental to your health,” Poon adds. Check with your doctor if you’re unsure if coconut water is right for you.
Dr. Stephenson elaborates on the danger of excessive potassium intake.
“Coconut water is high in potassium (a cup has about 575 mg, which is more than in a banana). This is great since many people are potassium deficient, and potassium helps to regulate electrolyte balance in the blood and may help to reduce blood pressure,” Dr. Stephenson states. “However, too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. If you are swilling coconut water by the gallon, you could build up too much potassium before your kidneys have a chance to process it. This is called hyperkalemia, and it can affect your heart rhythm, in extreme cases, cause a heart attack.”