Coconut water is actually the juice which is found within young, green coconuts. The water helps to nourish the fruit, as the coconut matures some of its juice ripens into the solid white flesh of the coconut whereas the rest remains in liquid form (2).
The water has up to ninety four percent water content and contains a very small amount of fat and shouldn’t be confused with coconut milk – made by mixing the water with grated coconut meat.
Benefits of coconut water
An excellent source of several nutrients such as fibre, vitamin C and other important minerals (1).
Not only is it tasty and refreshing, its actually very good for your health as it is loaded with several important nutrients – many which are minerals that most people don’t consume enough of.
Research has shown that coconut water contains antioxidants which modify free radicals, meaning they cannot cause any further harm (3, 4). However there has not been a human study which has investigated the antioxidant activity of coconut water.
Possible benefits against diabetes
Some studies have found that coconut water is able to lower blood sugar levels and even improve other markers of health in animals which are diabetic (5, 6). One study found that giving rats’ coconut water regularly helped them to maintain better blood sugar levels (7). Coconut water is also a great source of magnesium, a compound which has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels in patients who have type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes (8).
Can help to prevent kidney stones
Drinking an appropriate amount of fluid is essential in the prevention of kidney stones. An early animal research study suggested that drinking coconut water helps to keep kidney stones from sticking to the kidneys and in other parts of the urinary tract. It even helps to reduce the number of stones which were formed in the urine (9).
Can maintain and improve the health of the heart
Studies found that drinking coconut water helped reduce blood cholesterol and triglycerides (10).
Reduces blood pressure
One small study found significant improvements of high blood pressure readings in hypertensive patients (11). Additionally, coconut water contains potassium which has even shown to reduce blood pressure in people who have high or normal blood pressure levels (12). Another study suggested that coconut water contains anti-thrombotic properties, meaning it could possibly prevent blood clot formation in the arteries (5).
Beneficial after prolonged exercise
Two studies have found that coconut water is effective in restoring hydration and replenishing the electrolytes which are lost during exercise (13, 14). Some participants even stated that drinking coconut water instead of a regular high-electrolyte sports drink actually caused them less nausea and stomach discomfort.
With many benefits to coconut water, it is not surprising to see the rapid rise in popularity over the last few years. Like most things, along with the many benefits, research has shown that there are some disadvantages associated with the drink
Disadvantages of coconut water
It is not suitable for those who are vulnerable to allergies.
There are also some questionable claims about coconut water acting as a diuretic and laxative when it is consumed in large amounts.
Some people warn about coconut water lowering your blood pressure too much, especially in those are already hypotensive or taking specialist medication to reduce their blood pressure.
Although there is still a need for more controlled and human focused studies, current research and findings are encouraging and do point more towards the pros than cons of coconut water.
To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of coconut water, see our nutrition and weight management course.
- Yong, J.W., Ge, L., Ng, Y.F. and Tan, S.N., 2009. The chemical composition and biological properties of coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) water. Molecules, 14(12), pp.5144-5164.
- Santos, J.L., Bispo, V.S., BC FILHO, A.D.R.I.A.N.O., Pinto, I.F., Dantas, L.S., Vasconcelos, D.F., Abreu, F.F., Melo, D.A., Matos, I.A., Freitas, F.P. and Gomes, O.F., 2013. Evaluation of chemical constituents and antioxidant activity of coconut water (Cocus nucifera L.) and caffeic acid in cell culture. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências, 85(4), pp.1235-1247.
- Manna, K., Khan, A., Das, D.K., Kesh, S.B., Das, U., Ghosh, S., Dey, R.S., Saha, K.D., Chakraborty, A., Chattopadhyay, S. and Dey, S., 2014. Protective effect of coconut water concentrate and its active component shikimic acid against hydroperoxide mediated oxidative stress through suppression of NF-κB and activation of Nrf2 pathway. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 155(1), pp.132-146.
- Preetha, P.P., Devi, V.G. and Rajamohan, T., 2015. Mature coconut water exhibits antidiabetic and antithrombotic potential via L-arginine-nitric oxide pathway in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Journal of basic and clinical physiology and pharmacology, 26(6), pp.575-583.
- Preetha, P.P., Devi, V.G. and Rajamohan, T., 2012. Hypoglycemic and antioxidant potential of coconut water in experimental diabetes. Food & function, 3(7), pp.753-757.
- Pinto, I.F., Silva, R.P., Filho, A.D.B.C., Dantas, L.S., Bispo, V.S., Matos, I.A., Otsuka, F.A., Santos, A.C. and Matos, H.R., 2015. Study of antiglycation, hypoglycemic, and nephroprotective activities of the green dwarf variety coconut water (Cocos nucifera L.) in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Journal of medicinal food, 18(7), pp.802-809.
- Guerrero-Romero, F., Tamez-Perez, H.E., González-González, G.E., Salinas-Martinez, A.M., Montes-Villarreal, J., Trevino-Ortiz, J.H. and Rodriguez-Moran, M., 2004. Oral magnesium supplementation improves insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance. A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Diabetes & metabolism, 30(3), pp.253-258.
- Gandhi, M., Aggarwal, M., Puri, S. and Singla, S.K., 2013. Prophylactic effect of coconut water (Cocos nucifera L.) on ethylene glycol induced nephrocalcinosis in male wistar rat. International braz j urol, 39(1), pp.108-117.
- Sandhya, V.G. and Rajamohan, T., 2006. Beneficial effects of coconut water feeding on lipid metabolism in cholesterol-fed rats. Journal of medicinal food, 9(3), pp.400-407.
- Alleyne, T., Roache, S., Thomas, C. and Shirley, A., 2005. The control of hypertension by use of coconut water and mauby: two tr
- Sacks, F.M., Willett, W.C., Smith, A., Brown, L.E., Rosner, B. and Moore, T.J., 1998. Effect on blood pressure of potassium, calcium, and magnesium in women with low habitual intake. Hypertension, 31(1), pp.131-138.
- Saat, M., Singh, R., Sirisinghe, R.G. and Nawawi, M., 2002. Rehydration after exercise with fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water. Journal of physiological anthropology and applied human science, 21(2), pp.93-104.
- Ismail, I., Singh, R. and Sirisinghe, R.G., 2007. Rehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration.