Coconut water is the clear liquid inside coconuts that supports heart health, provides super hydration and even has some antioxidant effects in the body. Coconuts grow on large palm trees known scientifically as Cocos nucifera. Despite the name, the coconut is botanically considered a fruit rather than a nut.
Coconut water is the juice found in the center of a young, green coconut and helps to nourish the fruit. As the coconut matures, some of the juice remains in liquid form while the rest ripens into the solid white flesh known as coconut meat (1).
Coconut water forms naturally in the fruit and contains 94% water and very little fat. It should not be confused with coconut milk, which is made by adding water to grated coconut meat. Coconut milk contains about 50% water and is very high in coconut fat.
In recent years, coconut water has become a very trendy beverage. It’s tasty, refreshing and also happens to be good for you.
1Coconut water can help balance the body’s electrolytes. Coconut water contains a ton of electrolytes; specifically potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Electrolytes are the minerals your body needs for proper hydration and functioning (2).
Muscle weakness and cramps, an increased risk of high blood pressure and fatal cardiovascular events, and even chronic diseases have all been associated with a lack or imbalance of electrolytes in your body’s system (5).
The participants also said that coconut water caused less nausea and stomach discomfort (8).
2Coconut water may help lower blood pressure. Coconut water has been shown to have a positive effect on hypertension in humans. One study from 2005 reported a 71% decrease in mean systolic blood pressure after supplementing hypertensive patients with coconut water for two weeks (9).
Another showed that, regardless of why patients had hypertension in the first place, supplementing with coconut water significantly ameliorated it (10).
The researchers theorized that this was due to coconut waters’ potassium content, which causes vasodilation and improves endothelial health.
Such results have also been replicated in animal studies, with one showing that drinking coconut water resulted in significantly lower heart rates for hypertensive rats (11).
In people with hypertension, the heart has to work harder and faster for normal results because of the increased pressure, increasing the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions.
The two factors are very closely linked as precedents for heart disease (12).
Coconut water has a positive effect on both conditions, thereby lowering the risk for both high blood pressure and serious heart disease.
3Coconut water can help manage blood sugar levels. Research has shown that coconut water can lower blood sugar levels and improve other health markers in diabetic animals (13).
In one study, diabetic rats treated with coconut water maintained better blood sugar levels than the control group. The same study also found that the rats given coconut water had lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, indicating good long-term blood sugar control (14).
Another study noticed that providing coconut water to rats with diabetes led to improvements in blood sugar levels and reductions in markers of oxidative stress (15).
It’s also a good source of magnesium, which may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes (16).
However, controlled studies are needed to confirm these effects in humans.
4Coconut water can support cardiovascular health. It also helps lower the risk of serious cardiovascular disease by lowering your cholesterol/triglyceride levels. This protection may extend even to severe cases like heart attacks. One study on rats found that coconut water helped them recover more quickly from the adverse effects after a heart attack happened (17).
In addition, another study showed that a dietary intake of coconut water results in changes in the lipid metabolism of rats. Even though they had high-cholesterol diets, lipid levels in the liver, kidney, heart, and aorta significantly decreased once their diets were supplemented with coconut water (18).
The addition of coconut water also resulted in higher blood plasma levels of L-arginine (an antioxidant that’s also good for cardiovascular health). There was also less fatty tissue in the aorta and the liver.
5Coconut water is high in calcium which helps with bone density. The high calcium levels of coconut water are good for your bones and skeletal system (19).
Calcium is an integral part of the material bones are made of. Without adequate calcium levels, there’s a higher risk for skeletal diseases like rickets, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis due to lower bone density. In other words, your bones get weaker if you don’t have enough calcium, which can lead to chronic diseases (20).
6Coconut water can help prevent kidney stones. Drinking enough fluids is important for kidney stone prevention. Although plain water is a great choice, one study suggests that coconut water may be even better.
Kidney stones form when calcium, oxalate and other compounds combine to form crystals in your urine. These can then form painful kidney stones. However, some people are more susceptible to developing them than others (21).
In a study in rats with kidney stones, coconut water prevented crystals from sticking to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary tract. It also reduced the number of crystals formed in the urine (22).
8Coconut water is high in magnesium, which helps keep your muscles loose and relaxed. Magnesium’s one of the human body’s most abundant minerals — but that also means it’s very important for a wide range of different functions. DNA and RNA synthesis, protein synthesis, muscular contractions, blood pressure, the way your body manufactures and processes insulin, and nerve transmission are all in some way managed by your body’s magnesium stores (24).
Magnesium also regulates muscle contractions (25).
If you don’t have enough magnesium, you’re likely to get muscle cramps or to feel like your muscles are tense/sore all the time. By making your diet more rich in magnesium, coconut water can help prevent the onset of such diseases and keep your body functioning properly.
9Coconut water can help fight inflammation through antioxidant activity. While not quite as well-researched as other prominent antioxidants, like those found in red wine or in carotenoids, coconut water is theorized to have antioxidant effects (26).
The “green dwarf” variety of coconuts especially seems to have potential as an antioxidant. In one study from 2014, scientists found that young coconut water was more effective than mature coconut water in terms of inhibiting inflammatory processes in the bodies of rats (27).
They noted that younger coconuts also had a higher concentration of salicylic acid than mature ones, which might have been the main component in their anti-inflammatory effect. Salicylic acid is the main component of Aspirin and many other common painkillers. It’s an active ingredient that stops both pain and inflammation (28).
10Coconut water may be a good weight loss drink. Coconut water is low in calories and easy on your stomach. It is packed with bio-active enzymes that are known to ease digestion and boost metabolism. The higher the metabolic rate, the more fat you burn. And the best part is that even though coconut water has a very low concentration of carbohydrates, it still gives you a feeling of being full.
11Coconut water is super hydrating. Coconut water contains potassium and glucose, making it a good source for medical professionals who need to rehydrate people suffering from disease or trauma but don’t have normal electrolyte solutions on hand. Coconut water has been theorized to be an effective treatment for gastroenteritis and cholera, especially with the addition of table salt to make up for the other electrolytes (sodium, chloride, bicarbonate) which it doesn’t have (29).
Sodium-enriched coconut water has been studied as a possible rehydration agent. One 2007 study studied its effects in comparison to plain water, sports drinks, and regular coconut water, finding that sodium-enhanced coconut water was just as effective as commercially available sports drinks after dehydrating exercise (30).
1Coconut water can cause IBS like symptoms. Though coconut water is generally a good drink for gastrointestinal discomfort, it can occasionally cause bloating or discomfort in some people (31).
While it’s better than artificial soft drinks in terms of bloating, it could cause slightly more discomfort than normal water in some cases, though such side effects are relatively uncommon.
2Coconut water may cause potassium toxicity in very high doses. One 42-year old man who drank more than eight 11 oz servings of coconut water while playing tennis was rushed to the hospital after passing out. He had abnormal heart rhythms and low blood pressure. He was also warm, lightheaded, and disoriented (32).
Such symptoms are the result of too much potassium in the body. Your body needs it to function, but drinking too much coconut water in a short period of time (especially during an intense workout, which also increases potassium levels) could result in toxicity.
3Coconut water may increase blood sugar, which can be an issue for diabetics. Coconut water may not fall under sugary drinks, but still, it does contain carbohydrates and calories (7).
4Coconut water may lower blood pressure too quickly. Coconut water might lower your blood pressure, and in case you are already taking medications for high blood pressure, it might cause your blood pressure to go way too low.
Coconut water intake should vary depending on what it’s being used for. That said, if you live an otherwise healthy lifestyle, drinking coconut water every day shouldn’t be a problem.
Simply limit your intake to only a few servings of 10-12 oz a day (no more than four) to avoid the possibility of potassium toxicity. If you’re pregnant, have low blood pressure, or have any kidney-related medical conditions, a lower dose is probably more appropriate.
How much coconut water is safe to drink? Coconut water is safe to drink on a daily basis, but average users should limit their intake to no more than a few 10-12 oz servings per day. Excessive coconut water consumption could lead to unsafe potassium levels in your body, though it would take quite a lot of it to do so.
Is it possible to overdose on coconut water? It is possible to drink so much water that your body has too much potassium, though such cases are unlikely.
Can I replace normal water with coconut water? You can sometimes, but not completely. Coconut water works equally well for hydration, and it even contains a lot of electrolytes, unlike plain water. But drinking coconut water in excess can be dangerous, so the safest option is to simply drink both if you’d like to stay well-hydrated. That said, replacing a water bottle you bring to work, or the gym with coconut water is a safe, easy move.
Is it okay to drink coconut water while working out? Yes, it is okay to drink coconut water while exercising. Athletes who suffer from some other kidney condition, however, should make sure to contact a doctor beforehand; working out while drinking a lot of coconut water could be unsafe if taken in excess.
Is drinking coconut water safe for pregnant women? Drinking coconut water is usually safe for pregnant women since it has a lot of essential minerals that your body needs, and it may help soothe any inflammation or stomach upset. That said, always check with your medical professional first before consuming anything when pregnant. It is also extremely important to get the highest quality coconut water if you are consuming this when pregnant.
Will drinking coconut water interact with any drugs I’m taking? Patients who take drugs that alter kidney function (those who live with renal disorders) should consult their doctor, as drinking coconut water could raise your body’s potassium levels to an unsafe amount if consumed on a regular basis.
In addition, coconut water can interact with any drugs designed to lower blood pressure because it has the same effect. People who have hypertension and take medication for it should contact their doctor and stay on the low side when it comes to daily intake.
Is there a difference in types of coconut water? Yes. There’s a difference between water that comes from tender coconuts vs. water that comes from more mature coconuts. More mature coconut water has higher sugar levels, but less of the essential minerals that make coconut water so good for you, like potassium and calcium.
Also, coconut water that you’d find in the grocery store may vary by brand. Some manufacturers may add sugar and other ingredients, so carefully reading the label is important.
How do I find a low-sugar coconut water? While the science shows that higher levels of sugar make coconut water more acceptable to those drinking it, a sugary drink isn’t necessarily the best choice if you’re seeking coconut water for the health benefits. The best thing you can do in this case is research and thoroughly read the labels of different brands at the grocery store. Look for high levels of glucose, sucrose or fructose on the ingredients label. If you can’t find such information on the label or if you’re buying online, many manufacturers also have nutritional information on their product pages.
Can you drink coconut water every day? Yes, you can drink coconut water every day. However, limit your intake to a few servings a day to avoid coconut water disadvantages such as high levels of potassium.
Is coconut water good for weight loss? Coconut water is low in calories and easy on the stomach. It is packed with bio-active enzymes that are known to ease digestion and boost metabolism. The higher the metabolic rate, the more fat you burn.
Is it good to drink coconut water in empty stomach? Yes, you can drink coconut water on an empty stomach.
Is coconut water better than water? While coconut water is low in calories, rich in potassium, and fat and cholesterol free, the evidence that it is actually better than plain water for simple hydration is unfortunately lacking. However, compared to typical sports drinks, coconut water has fewer calories, less sodium, but higher amounts of potassium.
Can coconut water be consumed during a fever? Yes. Compounds called tannins that are present in coconut water may help to reduce this inflammation. Coconut water is also high in minerals such as sodium and potassium. One study found that coconut water may provide the same level of hydration as a sports drink – perfect for when electrolyte loss is high during a fever. It is also more healthful, containing no added sugar.
Coconut water is a great way to increase your potassium intake, especially as potassium is hard to find in modern diets. It’s high in the other electrolytes your body requires to function properly as well, such as magnesium.
Coconut water is also just as effective as regular water or specialized sports drinks for athletes, and its anti-inflammatory effects may help treat diseases and upset stomachs. Though buyers should be wary of varieties that contain a lot of sugar or additives, in general, coconut water provides a safe and healthy way to stay hydrated.