Coconuts have been a staple in my kitchen and culture. I use the milk, water, oil, and the meat of the coconut in my cooking, and use the oil for home health remedies. For example, you can use the oil as a hair mask to make your hair grow and shine (thanks mom and grandma for teaching me this natural Indian beauty tradition)!
Finally I researched the health benefits of coconuts, out of sheer curiosity, and I was completely blown away. I mean, if you think pokeballs are the bees knees, once you read about coconuts you’ll start wanting to collect them too, as if they were gems or something. And the best part? They’re not virtual, they’re real!
Contains antioxidants – Coconut water contains antioxidants that protect cells from damaging free radicals. Free radicals are produced in your cells during metabolism. Production of these unstable molecules increases in response to stress or injury. When there are too many free radicals, it can damage cells and increase the risk of disease.
Free radicals are produced by your own metabolism, so there’s no other way to neutralize the damage, except consuming enough antioxidants in your diet. Coconut water can help you with that.
Good source of nutrients – One cup (240 grams) 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.
Copper: 11% of the RDI.
RDI – “recommended daily intake”
A source of electrolytes –
Electrolytes are minerals that maintain proper fluid balance. They include potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium.
Because of its electrolyte composition, coconut water is used to rehydrate the body in case of dehydration and fluid loss due to diarrhea, vomiting or excessive sweating. Coconut water is effective at replenishing fluids and electrolytes after exercise.
Low in calories –
One cup (240 grams) contains 46 calories.
A source of cytokinins –
Cytokinins are a powerful hormone like substance. It is the plant version of cytokines, which are found in humans. Cytokinins are involved in growth, development, reproduction, homeostatic regulation, repair, blood clotting, and immunity. Benefits: anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-thrombolytic. Cytokinins are proven to have anti-cancer effects; studies have shown that cytokinins go in and cause “apoptosis” or programed cell death of cancer cells.
A source of amino acids –
Amino acids are essential for repairing tissues and are the building blocks of protein. Coconut water contains alanine, arginine, cysteine, and serine. It’s a major source of arginine, which helps your body respond to stress (like the stress caused by a difficult workout). Arginine may also help keep the heart healthy.
A source of hydration –
Just like its name suggests, coconut water contains about 95% water. This makes it a great hydration drink. Coconut water can hydrate your body just as well as plain water (the mother of all hydrating drinks), but it contains many more nutritional benefits!
A natural diuretic –
Due to its minerals, potassium and magnesium content, coconut water is beneficial to a person suffering from any kidney disease. This water also acts as a diuretic and increases the flow and production of urine.
A good source for friendly gut bacteria –
Coconut water helps rid the body of yeast overgrowth. It is also easy on the stomach and thus is used to soothe tummy troubles like indigestion, acid reflux and gastroenteritis.
Boosts energy levels –
This occurs without the jitters! A good source of carbohydrates, it helps lift your energy level.
Balances blood sugar –
Coconut water contains arginine, which is an amino acid that helps moderate sugar absorption. Arginine also improves insulin sensitivity, which means blood sugar is more readily transported into cells, from the bloodstream. Studies on diabetic animals suggest that it may improve blood sugar control. It’s also a good source of magnesium, which may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
Enhances immune system –
Rich in nutrients and vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and pyridoxine, and folates, coconut water has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that can help increase your body’s immune system and fight viral infections like flu.
Helps glaucoma and cataracts –
It is effective in reducing fluid pressure in the eyes and fights symptoms of cataracts.
Good for heart health –
Coconut water offers cardioprotective benefits. It helps lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL or the ‘good’ cholesterol) levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. Plus, coconut water has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiplatelet properties and helps improve circulation. Thus, it helps reduce plaque formation in the arteries and lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Relieves hangover –
Coconut water replenishes the electrolytes in the body and boosts hydration, thus making you feel better. Also, the antioxidants in this revitalizing health drink fight oxidative stress caused by indulging in too much alcohol. It will also help settle an acid stomach.
Helps headache –
Most headaches, even migraines, are triggered by dehydration. In such cases, coconut water can be of great help in supplying electrolytes to the body and boosting hydration.
Coconut water is also rich in magnesium. People who suffer from migraines often have low levels of magnesium. Studies also suggest that magnesium can help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
Lowers blood pressure –
Coconut water is considered good for controlling high blood pressure, thanks to its vitamin C, potassium and magnesium content. Potassium, in particular, helps lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of sodium. A study published in the West Indian Medical Journal in 2005 also found that coconut water helps control hypertension.
To help reduce high blood pressure, drink a cup of fresh coconut water twice a day. *Bottled coconut water, however, may not be very beneficial as may be high in sodium.
Promotes weight loss –
Coconut water should be a must-have in your diet chart if you are trying to lose weight. Low in fat, drinking this beverage can help one feel full and reduce cravings.
Beneficial after exercise –
Research suggests that coconut water can be used to rehydrate the body after exercise. In fact, a 2012 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that coconut water has a similar positive effect as sports drinks. Professional tennis player John Isner credits coconut water with keeping him on his feet for his epic 11-hour marathon Wimbledon tennis win. “It is super hydrating and has kept me going in long matches and prevented me from cramping even in the hottest and most humid conditions,” Isner says. Coconut water is effective at replenishing fluids and electrolytes after exercise. It is comparable to other sports beverages.
Relieves constipation –
Drinking a minimum of 11 oz per day will soften stool and increase the urge to go to the bathroom.
Coconut water can be consumed directly from green coconuts or in bottles. Avoid brands with added sugar, sweeteners or flavors. I personally started drinking coconut water with the added flavors because I didn’t like the taste! But after a while I grew accustomed to it and could drink and enjoy it straight up. If you don’t like the taste yet, try out this healthy recipe via Desiree: