Natural coconut water is often promoted to be a healthy sports drink that helps in recovering electrolyte loss after a workout. It also aids digestion and prevents problems like bloating. Is it rightly called a miracle drink or is it just a big marketing scam? In this article, we will see the coconut water nutrition profile, claimed the health benefits of natural coconut water, and scientific facts.
Coconut Water Nutrient Profile
Natural coconut water contains 94% water and a small amount of fat. A coconut fruit with an age of 6-7 months can provide 0.5 to 1 cup of coconut water.
Here is the nutrient profile of 240 ml of coconut water:
|Vitamin C||10% of the RDI|
6% of the RDI
|15% of the RDI|
|11% of the RDI|
17% of the RDI
17% of the RDI
Coconut Water Health Benefits
Cells produce unstable molecules during metabolism. These molecules are called free radicals. The production of free radicals increases in response to injury or stress. An excessive amount of free radicals leads to oxidative stress which can cause damage to cells, proteins, and even DNA.
In research on rats with liver damage, it was found that coconut water helped in improving oxidative stress. In one study, coconut water was used to treat rats on a high-fructose diet. Coconut water decreased insulin levels, triglycerides levels, blood pressure levels, and free radical activity. However, no such study has been conducted on humans.
According to research on diabetic animals, coconut water can improve health markers such as blood sugar levels. When given coconut water, blood sugar level was improved in diabetic rats. In the same study, it was found that coconut water lowered hemoglobin A1c levels when coconut water was given to rats. This indicates long-term blood sugar control. This also reduced oxidative stress markers.
People with diabetes should include coconut water in their diet. Its magnesium content helps in:
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
- Decreasing blood sugar levels
Compounds like oxalate and calcium combine to form crystals which further leads to kidney stones. The best way to prevent kidney stones is by drinking enough fluids. Though drinking plain water can also help, according to a study, drinking coconut water is more beneficial.
In a study, scientists gave coconut water to rats with kidney stones. They found that it helped in reducing crystal formation. Moreover, crystals did not stick to any part of the urinary tract. Coconut water reduced the production of free radicals.
Many people with kidney stones report that drinking natural coconut water has helped in kidney stone treatment.
In a study, scientists found that drinking coconut water reduced the following in rats:
- Blood cholesterol
- Liver fat
Similar results are found in a few studies on humans. However, more research work is required to confirm that coconut water improves heart health in humans as well.
Strong proponents of coconut water also claim that coconut water helps in controlling blood pressure. Researchers gave coconut water to a small group of people with high blood pressure. This improved systolic blood pressure in 71% of high blood pressure patients.
It is a scientifically proven fact that potassium lowers blood pressure. Coconut water is an excellent source of potassium. The anti-thrombotic activity of coconut water also prevents blood clots formation.
Sweating leads to loss of electrolytes. The human body needs to restore hydration and replenish electrolytes. The loss of electrolytes including calcium, sodium, magnesium and potassium leads to fluid imbalance. Two studies show that coconut water helps in electrolyte replenishment. This makes it an excellent sports drink.
As you can see, some of the health benefits of coconut water are scientifically proven in studies on humans. Others require more scientific research. However, this does show that coconut water has some significant health benefits to offer.