Lately it seems coconut water has been touted as a miracle beverage. Marketers are claiming it does everything from curing diabetes to improving athletic performance. As you might guess, some of these claims are over-the-top. However, coconut water does offer a number of health benefits and it can be a great addition to your diet. What can coconut water do for you?
Multiple studies have shown drinking coconut water can reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Some results even showed a boost in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. In one study, participants had nearly a 50% boost in HDL cholesterol. A 2008 study from Food and Toxicology compared coconut water consumption with the cholesterol drug lovastatin. Both the drug and coconut water produced similar cholesterol-lowering results in test subjects.
There is also evidence that coconut water improves blood pressure. A 2005 study from the West Indian Medical Journal showed coconut water helped about a third of the study’s participants with high blood pressure lower their diastolic blood pressure after just two weeks. Researchers believe this could be due to the high potassium content in coconut water. There is also some speculation the improvement in blood pressure could be related to the vitamin C content in coconut water.
In addition to the heart health benefits of drinking coconut water, there is also preliminary evidence that coconut water could help women manage symptoms related to menopause and improve brain health.
Using Coconut Water Effectively
Unfortunately, some of the health claims of coconut water distributors are slightly exaggerated. It is not a miracle cure, but it can be a healthy substitute for a variety of other drinks. If you are a fan of high-sugar fruit juices, you can drink fruit-infused coconut water instead. It is a lower calorie option and the calories in a serving of coconut water do not come from processed sugar, as is the case with many fruit drinks and juices.
Perhaps the most common claim of coconut water sellers is the drink’s ability to replace sports beverages for rehydrating athletes. Coconut water is high in potassium and helps replenish your cells following a workout. Many people are reaching for coconut water instead of standard sports drinks because it does not contain the artificial ingredients and chemicals found in many sports drinks.
Unfortunately, coconut water is low in sodium. While this is great news for the average drinker, it can be detrimental to someone following a workout when sodium must be replenished because of sweating. Many health experts warn that if you rely on coconut water alone after an intense workout, you may be cheating your body of essential nutrients.
Overall, coconut water is a healthy option, especially if you choose it instead of drinks that are far from nutritious. If you enjoy the flavor of coconut water and prefer it as a natural choice over sports drinks following a workout, be sure to supplement with a higher sodium snack, such as a few pretzels or whole grain crackers with sea salt.