Maybe you have happy fantasies about sitting on a beach and sipping coconut water straight from the fruit’s giant green shell. Me, too.
But in the meantime, there’s always the deli cooler for when you fancy a delicious and nutritious refreshing sip. To be clear, coconut milk has a creamy white hue and contains the actual coconut meat. Here I am talking about the clear liquid from a coconut.
Because coconut water is so full of electrolytes (minerals and salts that help regulate nerve function, hydrate and maintain fluid balance in your cells), some people call it “nature’s exercise” because it’s great for post-workout hydration. You can also use it as a base for a lot of healthy smoothie recipes. I like it because it’s not overly sweet, but still has that nice tropical flavor.
But it doesn’t just taste good, check out this master list of health benefits of coconut wateras well as some things to be aware of if you drink it every day.
Health and Nutrition Benefits of Coconut Water
1. The pprovides a good source of nutrients and electrolytes
Coconut water fits into both low-calorie and low-sugar diets, as it contains only about 45 calories per cup and about 11 grams of sugar. Plus, it’s naturally packed with electrolytes, including potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and more. Although the nutrition facts may vary slightly depending on where the coconut comes from, as well as the ripeness of the coconut, an average 8-ounce glass of coconut water contains:
- Calories: 45
- Total fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- Sodium: 25 mg
- Potassium: 470mg
- Total carbohydrates: 11g
- Total sugars: 11g
- Egg white: 0g
- Calcium: 4% RDA
- Magnesium: 4% RDA
- Phosphorus: 2% RDA
2. Can aid post-workout recovery
Coconut water is rich in several electrolytes, including potassium, sodium and magnesium. If you’re working up a sweat, especially in the summer months, coconut water can be very helpful.
Chicago-based registered dietitian Maggie Michalczyk says the electrolytes in coconut water can help regulate fluid balance, prevent dehydration and even ensure proper muscle function. Of course, you should also ensure that you consume enough carbohydrates and proteins after training.
3. May lower blood pressure and stroke risk
Bananas are notorious for their high potassium content, but just one cup of coconut water contains more potassium than a medium banana. Research shows that potassium-rich diets can help support heart health by lowering blood pressure and even protecting against stroke. Supplementing coconut water with other potassium-rich foods in your diet is ideal when it comes to supporting a healthy heart.
4. Can promote healthy skin
A lack of proper hydration can lead to dry, tight and even flaky skin. Drinking coconut water can contribute to your daily hydration needs, promoting circulation and glowing skin. Certain types of coconut water are enriched with vitamin C, which has a range of antioxidant properties and naturally stimulates collagen synthesis, and can help keep your skin firm and youthful.
5. May Reduce Added Sugar Intake
Skip the sugary juices and sodas and reach for coconut water instead when you’re craving something other than the tap, says Michalczyk. Unlike sugar-sweetened drinks, coconut water usually contains little to no added sugar (in unflavored varieties). This makes it an excellent choice for diabetics or people who want to reduce their consumption of added sugars. LChoose 100% coconut water, not made from concentrate, and opt for plain, unflavored varieties for a solution without added sugar.
6. Can help rdehydration when you are sick
When you are sick, the body can lose a huge amount of fluid through vomiting and diarrhea. Michalcyzk notes that coconut water can help with hydration status and balance electrolytes better than plain water in this scenario. Some brands even fortify their coconut water with vitamins C and D, which can provide even better immune support.
7. May help with weight management
You may be wondering if coconut water is good for weight loss. We know that proper hydration is essential for nourishing every cell in the body and optimizing your metabolism. And although coconut water contains more calories than plain water, it contains significantly fewer calories than other drinks like soda and juice. This simple swap can help you reduce your calories over the course of the week.
8. Can help cure a hangover
If a little too much wine at happy hour leaves you feeling dehydrated and foggy the next day, Michalczyk offers a pro tip for keeping coconut water in your refrigerator. She says it will help replenish electrolytes that may have been depleted from drinking, and can be a great thirst quencher.
9. It can support bone health
Women, especially over 50, need as much calcium as they can get (1000 mg for women 19-50, then 1200 mg). Unless you eat a lot of dairy, it can be difficult to meet your numbers through food alone. Why do we need so much? Calcium is essential to keep bones strong, and your muscles and nerves also need it to function properly. One cup of coconut water contains about 17 mg of calcium, which helps you reach your daily recommended amount.
10. It is a good source of magnesium
Magnesium is essential for healthy muscles, nerves, bones and blood sugar levels, and if you don’t get enough of it over time, you may be at greater risk for several health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. One cup contains 14% of what you need in a day. It’s a good idea to keep it in the refrigerator as a grab-and-go snack if you have teenagers at home; according to the National Institutes of Health, teens are most likely to have a low magnesium intake.
11. Coconut can (keyword: May!) help with kidney stones
The research is very preliminary, but one small study found that coconut water helped participants pass more citrate, potassium, and chloride, suggesting the drink may help loosen stones or prevent them from forming in the first place. Most kidney stones are calcium, and citrate helps prevent their crystallization. However, more research is needed and keep in mind that if you have other kidney problems, excess potassium (coconut water has quite a bit) is not advised.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there side effects of drinking coconut water?
You may wonder if it is okay to drink coconut water every day. For the general population, coconut water is generally considered safe to consume and is a delicious source of natural electrolytes. But there are a few exceptions to keep in mind: If you have kidney failure, you should be careful about drinking coconut water as it is high in potassium. Although this nutrient is normally healthy for the body, when the kidneys fail they can no longer remove the excess potassium and it is important to monitor your intake. Coconut water can be an unexpected but important source of potassium if consumed regularly, resulting in hyperkalemia, which indicates too much potassium in the blood.
How do I choose the best coconut water?
Ideally, coconut water should contain only one ingredient. We recommend choosing variants that consist of 100% coconut water, without added sugars, flavorings or additives. If you don’t like the taste of coconut water on its own, try incorporating it into smoothies or mixing it with sparkling water or a little juice.
Coconut water can be a great way to rehydrate and provide the body with a range of nutrients and electrolytes. If possible, opt for regular varieties that are not made from concentrate to keep you hydrated all day long.
Stefani (she/her) is a registered dietitian, a NASM-certified personal trainer and director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab, where she provides all nutrition-related content, testing and evaluations. She has a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU. She is too Good cleaning fitness and exercise expert on staff. Stefani strives to provide readers with evidence-based content to encourage informed food choices and healthy living. She is an avid CrossFitter and a passionate home cook who loves spending time with her big one fit Greek family.