Coconut Water Health Benefits

Coconut water is an option when you need to rehydrate from exercise or diarrhea. Coconut water naturally contains sugar, sodium, magnesium, and potassium.

coconut water health benefits

Coconut water may be an option for hydration, although there is no evidence that it is better than a sports drink for exercise hydration, or better than water for diarrhea hydration.

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Coconut water is the clear water found inside young coconuts. It is not the same as coconut milk which contains both water and the “white meat” of the coconut. Although many benefits have been claimed for coconut water, according to the National Institutes of Health, there is not enough evidence to confirm any of these benefits. [1]

Coconut Water for Rehydration

The most likely benefit for coconut water is as a rehydration solution. It has been used in children to replace fluids lost from diarrhea, and athletes drink coconut water both to prevent dehydration before a workout and to rehydrate after a workout. There are even some case reports of using coconut water intravenously to replace fluids, but this is not an accepted treatment for severe dehydration. [1]

Most studies have found that coconut water for rehydration in children is not more effective than water. [1] Studies for rehydration before or after exercise have found that coconut water may not be as effective as a sports electrolyte drinks like Gatorade, because sports drinks have more sugar and sodium, both of which are the key replacement nutrients athletes are looking for. [2,3]

Coconut Water for Blood Pressure

There have been a few studies that found coconut water might lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, but these studies have not been supported by recent research, and this benefit is still considered unproven. [1]

However, if you are taking blood pressure medication or you have low blood pressure, you may want to avoid coconut water. It may interfere with blood pressure medication or make blood low blood pressure lower. NIH suggests that you talk to your doctor before trying coconut water and avoid it if you are scheduled for surgery, since it may interfere with blood pressure control during surgery. [1]

Safety of Coconut Water

Coconut water is sometimes called green coconut water; this is not a different type, it just refers to the color. Coconut water is considered safe for most people. Drinking too much may cause fullness or an upset stomach. There is no research available that sets a safe limit on how much you should drink. [1] Unsweetened coconut water has about 45 to 60 calories per 8 ounces. The amount of sodium, potassium, and magnesium is unpredictable since it varies with the age of the coconut. [3]

Other than the possible effect of lowering blood pressure, the main safety issue for coconut water is potassium. There have been some reports of people drinking enough coconut water to cause high potassium levels that interfere with heart rhythm and cause kidney damage, but this is very unlikely in a healthy person. [1] Talk to your doctor about coconut water safety if you:

  • Are pregnant or breast feeding
  • Have cystic fibrosis
  • Have high potassium
  • Have kidney disease

Bottom Line on the Health Benefits of Coconut Water

Coconut water may be an option for hydration, but there is no evidence that it is better than a sports drink for exercise hydration, or better than water for diarrhea hydration. As for any benefits to blood pressure or other vital signs, the jury is still out. [1-3]

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SOURCES

  1. NIH, Coconut Water, Coconut Water: MedlinePlus Supplements
  2. Cleveland Clinic, Electrolyte Drinks: Beneficial or Not? Electrolyte Drinks: Beneficial or Not? – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic
  3. Mayo Clinic, What is coconut water and what’s behind the hype? Coconut water: Healthy drink or marketing scam? – Mayo Clinic

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Chris Iliades, MD

Chris Iliades has an MD degree and 15 years of experience as a freelance writer. Based in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, his byline has appeared regularly on many health and medicine … Read More

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