When you want a beverage that’s refreshing, subtly sweet and good for you, sip on a glass of coconut water — mother nature’s soft drink
Indian classics refer to the coconut palm as kalpavriksha, which means “the all giving tree.” Coconut products, including the oil, milk, cream and water, have been used for thousands of years for their nutritive and medicinal properties, which include antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antioxidant, hepatoprotective and immunostimulant properties.
Coconut water is the liquid found inside a green, or immature, coconut, not to be confused with coconut milk, which is made from the flesh of a mature coconut. The near sterile fluid that makes up coconut water, sometimes referred to as liquid endosperm, is 94% water, making it valuable for hydration.
Coconut water has even been used intravenously as a rehydration fluid in emergency situations. If you’re looking for a beverage that’s both refreshing and nutritious, consider coconut water — a soft drink straight from mother nature.
Coconut Water’s Impressive Nutritional Makeup
Coconut water contains inorganic ions, which are necessary for cellular function along with enzyme activation, bone formation, gene expression and metabolism of amino acids, lipids and carbohydrates. The ion composition in coconut water is effective for replenishing electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, which are lost from your body when you sweat.
Due to its rich electrolyte content, “ingestion of fresh young coconut water, a natural refreshing beverage, could be used for whole body rehydration after exercise,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science. Coconut water is also an excellent source of B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B9, or folate, which your body needs to complete enzymatic reactions for cellular function.
Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, is also found in coconut water, helping to mitigate oxidative stress. In a study on rats, consuming coconut water helped to prevent and reverse high blood pressure, likely by inhibiting the peroxidation of lipids, improving insulin sensitivity and boosting antioxidant status in the animals.
Coconut Water Protects Your Heart
The rich content of mineral ions in coconut water, such as potassium, offers cardioprotective benefits. In an animal study, coconut water protected rats against damage from heart attacks, likely due to its content of potassium, calcium, magnesium and L-arginine.
L-arginine is an amino acid that your body convers into nitric oxide (NO). NO improves blood flow by dilating blood vessels, which can have beneficial effects on blood pressure. In a study of 28 adults with high blood pressure, those who consumed coconut water had a significant 71% decrease in mean systolic blood pressure and a 29% decrease in mean diastolic pressure.
The abundance of L-arginine in coconut water may also be responsible for its antidiabetic and antithrombotic, or blood clot reducing, benefits. Coconut water has been found to significantly reduce hyperglycemia and oxidative stress in rats with diabetes.
Further, due to its ability to decrease oxidative stress in the eyes, coconut water may also protect the eye’s lens from cataracts related to diabetes. Coconut water even has beneficial effects on lipid levels, lowering lipids as well as the drug lovastatin in rats.
Good for Your Kidneys, Liver and Brain
If you suffer from kidney stones, coconut water should be on your radar, as research suggests it increases urinary output of citrate, potassium and chloride, which suggests it could play a role in preventing kidney stones from forming. When it comes to liver health, coconut water has been suggested as a potential hepatoprotective agent, and coconut water vinegar was found to reduce liver damage caused by acetaminophen by restoring antioxidant activity and suppressing inflammation.
Writing in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, researchers further highlighted coconut water’s “antidote effect,” noting its ability to eliminate poisons and ameliorate drug-induced overdose toxicity. One of the most important classes of phytocompounds in coconut water, however, are cytokinins, plant hormones that have antiaging, anticancer and antithrombotic effects.
One cytokinin, trans-zeatin, shows promise for supporting brain health, including reducing Alzheimer’s disease. The compound prevents the formation of amyloid-β protein, which may play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and coconut water is protective against the pathological changes of Alzheimer’s disease in animal studies.
A Naturally Restorative Beverage
When you’re looking for a tasty and healthy alternative to water, only a handful of options can be described as truly natural and good for you — coconut water among them. Offering exceptional hydration and refreshment, with a hint of subtle sweetness and a host of unique nutritional properties, coconut water is a beverage you can feel good about drinking.
For more coconut water health benefits, be sure to check out our GreenMedInfo.com coconut water database. It contains dozens of study abstracts indicating coconut water may be valuable for dehydration, inflammation, DNA damage and more.