It’s hard to imagine a beach vacation without a nice green coconut with a straw floating in its thirst-quenching juices in your hand. Coconut water has a lot more to offer than cooling you off when you are laying out on the sand.
Coconut water has gained tremendous popularity over the past several years due to many of its health-promoting properties. It gained so much popularity that companies started bottling it for people to enjoy even far from the tropics.
What is it about coconut water that has made it so popular?
Below are 3 science-backed health benefits of coconut water.
1. Helps to Regulate Muscle and Heart Contraction
When you sweat, you lose key minerals called electrolytes. Foundational researchers learned that electrolytes have multiple functions, including keeping the right liquid pressure within and out of cells, and regulating muscle contractions and heartbeat. When you are dehydrated and lack in electrolytes, your muscles can cramp up and you may even have an irregular heartbeat.
Coconut water has key electrolytes in beneficial quantities that help to keep your muscles and heart working correctly.
2. Great for Hydration After Exercise
Coconut water could be a much better alternative to commercial sports drinks.
The key ingredients in sports drinks are electrolytes, but along with these minerals, commercial sports drinks also have significant amounts of sugar, and often overdo it with sodium. Both sugar and salt are abundant in most people’s diet, but nutritional deficiencies in other minerals are common.
Two studies found that, when compared to plain water, coconut water was a better option for rehydration because it allows for improved volume tolerance (allowed people to drink more) and because it contained important minerals that can replace those that are lost through sweating.
One cup of coconut water has more potassium than most sports drinks, and almost as much potassium as a banana. It is also lighter on calories, with only 46 calories per cup, compared to 65 calories per cup of Gatorade.
Note that natural coconut water is always the best option. Bottled coconut water or “coconut beverages” often have added sugar and other substances, so check the ingredients to make sure you are getting the good stuff.
3. May Help Reduce Blood Pressure
Potassium, like that found in coconut water, is important for lowering and regulating blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to several health issues, including stroke, vision loss, and heart attacks. While there is more research to be done, one small study examined the effect of coconut water on people with hypertension, and, after consumption, systolic blood pressure reduced by 70%, on average.
Coconut water has been the drink of choice for centuries in populations that live in the tropics. Only recently have people who live in temperate climates begun to take advantage of this delicious, slightly sweet drink. Not only will it satisfy your palate, it will also help to support your heart and brain health, help you recuperate after exercise, and stay hydrated. Coconut is like nature’s sports drink!
Image credit: Mandy Martini