Have you ever taken a tropical vacation and found yourself on a hot beach, wishing you had something to drink? Suddenly, along comes a young local boy. He skillfully hacks into a fresh coconut, slips a straw inside the shell and hands it to you. You take a sip of the cool coconut water inside and feel you’ve died and gone to tropical Heaven.
Well, these days anyone can sip cool and refreshing coconut water, as it is now sold in most chain grocery stores. You could even say drinking coconut water has become a bit trendy.
Back in 2017, Madonna and Matthew McConaughey made big news when they both invested in a little company called Vito Coco, which at the time was the world’s leading brand of coconut water.
So we know coconut water is very “in”, but are there any actual health benefits to it? Actually, quite a few. Beyond being a very tasty and refreshing beverage, coconut water is loaded with some very important nutrients, including minerals that most people don’t get enough of in their diet.
Here are some of the health benefits that coconut water offers:
1. It’s a Great Source of Several Nutrients
I just mentioned coconut water is loaded with nutrients, but let’s take a closer look at what they are, and what a coconut actually is. You see, we think of coconuts as, well, nuts. But the truth is, botanically-speaking, coconuts are considered a fruit and not a nut.
Coconut water comes from the center of young, green coconuts. This juice is what helps to nourish the fruit so it can grow. As the fruit matures, some of the juice remains in liquid form but much of it will become the solid white flesh that we call coconut meat.
Now coconut water should NOT be confused with coconut milk, which is produced by adding water to graded coconut meat. Coconut milk contains roughly 50% water and is very high in coconut fat, which admittedly is a healthy fat. Coconut water, on the other hand, is 95% water and contains very little fat.
An average green coconut provides roughly half to one full cup of coconut water, and that cup of coconut water contains:
- Carbs: 9 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Vitamin C: 10% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 15% of the RDI
- Manganese: 17% of the RDI
- Potassium: 17% of the RDI
- Sodium: 11% of the RDI
- Calcium: 6% of the RDI
The bottom line is, coconut water offers some pretty important nutrients that you may or may not be getting enough of.
2. Contains Antioxidants
Free radicals are unstable molecules produced in your cells as a result of metabolism. The more free radicals you have floating around in your body, the quicker your body enters a state of oxidative stress, and the faster you age and potentially develop disease.
Antioxidants are what protect you from these harmful free radicals and now research on animals exposed to toxins shows that coconut water contains antioxidants that modify free radicals so they no longer cause damage.
Another study found that rats with liver damage showed significant improvement as far as oxidative stress when they were treated with coconut water.
It’s always a good idea to eat and drink foods and beverages that offer protection against free radical damage, and it looks like coconut water can be added to the list.
3. Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Animal studies have shown that coconut water has the ability to lower blood sugar levels and improve other health markers in diabetic animals. One specific study with rats found that coconut water not only maintained better blood sugar levels than the control group but the rats also had lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, indicating good long-term blood sugar control.
While more human studies will need to be conducted, these animal studies prove promising. We do know that coconut water contains a fair amount of magnesium, which may increase insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
4. May Support Heart Health
Studies suggest drinking coconut water may be helpful in reducing heart disease. For instance, one study published in the journal of medicinal food found that coconut water reduced blood cholesterol and triglycerides. The study participants also experienced a significant decrease in liver fat.
If you’re looking for simple (and deliciously refreshing) ways to boost your heart health, sipping some coconut water each day may be just what your cardiologist ordered.
5. May Reduce Blood Pressure
It also looks like coconut water may be beneficial in helping you control your blood pressure. In one small study in people with high blood pressure saw significant improvement to their systolic blood pressure after consuming coconut water.
This may be do to the fact that coconut water contains an impressive 600 mg of potassium, which has been shown to lower blood pressure.
These are only a handful of benefits coconut water offers. The bottom line is, coconut water is not only an excellent way to hydrate, but also protect your overall health at the same time.
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