As the temperatures start heating up, the thought of cold coconut water to chill out sounds delectable. In the past 10 years, what used to only be a tropical treat when on vacation has now become a grocery store staple everywhere- and with good reason! Coconut water is highly hydrating and full of minerals and is easily drank on its own or in smoothies. Tik Tok even saw “nature’s cereal” recipe recently go viral- it’s a combination of fresh pomegranate seeds, vibrant blueberries, and juicy blackberries, topped it off with coconut water (and ice cubes if you want to follow Lizzo’s cue!) In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, coconut water is believed to help digestion, urination, and even semen production. It has also traditionally been used to treat dehydration and given as ceremonial gifts throughout the tropics. While it may not be a miracle cure, it does have many health benefits. Here are the Top 10 Health Benefits of Coconut Water:
- Bioactive enzymes can help digestion: the bioactive enzymes found in coconut water helps with digestion. Bioactive enzymes such as acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase, RNA-polymerases, etc., which can act as powerful catalysts to aid in the digestive process of breaking down fats, proteins and starches.
- Can help lower cholesterol: In one study, rats that consumed coconut water had reductions in blood cholesterol and triglycerides. They also experienced significant decreases in liver fat ( 15 ). In another study, the same researchers fed rats a similar diet supplemented with the same dosage (4 ml per 100 grams of body weight) of coconut water. After 45 days, the coconut water group had a reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride levels that rivaled the effects of a statin drug used to lower cholesterol
- Can help reduce blood pressure: In one small study in people with high blood pressure, coconut water improved systolic blood pressure (the higher number of a blood pressure reading) in 71% of participants. Coconut water also contains an impressive 500 mg of potassium in 8 ounces. Potassium relaxes the walls of the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and protecting against muscle cramping. A number of studies have shown an association between low potassium intake and increased blood pressure and higher risk of stroke.
- Helps with muscle recovery: After exercising, coconut water is a great way to replenish your body, full of good electrolytes. When you’re working out, your body loses electrolytes through sweating, so coconut water helps your muscle recovery after a long workout. The potassium in it is also crucial to smooth and skeletal muscle contraction, and can help prevent muscle cramps.
- Extra Hydrating: The edge that coconut water has over traditional sports drinks is that it packs 15 times more potassium—it contains about 470-500 mg per 8 ounces—than Gatorade or Powerade. To put things into perspective, a medium banana has 422 milligrams of potassium. Potassium is a key player in rehydration because, along with sodium, magnesium and calcium, the electrolyte helps maintain fluid balance in the body. Coconut water also has a fraction of the dyes and sugars in traditional sports drinks. Your body naturally loses potassium with sweat, so it is important to replenish and hydrate in the way that is replenishing nutrients in your body.
High in Antioxidants: Rich in potassium, magnesium, copper, cytokinins, and antioxidants – coconut water is high in antioxidants and nutrients. It is also a good alternative for regular water as it’s higher in sodium and chlorides. One study found that rats with liver damage showed significant improvement in oxidative stress when treated with coconut water compared to rats that received no treatment. In another study, rats on a high-fructose diet were treated with coconut water. Free radical activity decreased, as did blood pressure, triglycerides, and insulin levels
- Helps regulate bowel movements: drinking coconut water helps to regulate irritable bowel system (IBS). According to ancient yoga practices, the bowel is the most important organ to regulate health. The magnesium found in coconut water helps the muscles within your digestive system relax, relieving constipation by helping with bowel movements- but much more gently than traditional laxatives!
- Contributes to healthy, glowing skin: Lack of proper hydration can lead to dry, tight, and even flaky skin. Drinking coconut water can contribute to your daily hydration needs which promotes circulation and glowing radiant skin. Certain varieties of coconut water are fortified with vitamin C which has a slew of antioxidant properties and naturally stimulates collagen synthesis, which can help keep your skin firm and youthful-looking.
- Can help with kidney stones: Drinking enough fluids is important for kidney stone prevention. Although plain water is great at preventing kidney stones, a study conducted in rats with kidney stones, coconut water prevented crystals from sticking to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. It also reduced the number of crystals formed in the urine. Researchers concluded that coconut water helps reduce free radical production in response to high oxalate levels in urine.
- May help regulate diabetes: Being a good source of magnesium, it may increase insulin sensitivity and decrease reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. One study found that providing coconut water to rats with diabetes led to improvements in blood sugar levels and reductions in markers of oxidative stress. In another study, diabetic rats treated with coconut water maintained better blood sugar levels than the control group and had lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, indicating good long-term blood sugar control.
*Fun Bonus Fact: During World War Two, coconut water was given to soldiers when IV saline was low in supply. So in case of emergencies, coconut water can be used to rehydrate the human body by replacing the loss of fluids by injecting it intravenously. Since coconut water is rich in so many minerals and antioxidants, the coconut water has similar properties to the liquid inside our red blood cells.