Coconut water, also known as the coconut juice, is the clear liquid present in the center of tender green coconuts. Not to be confused with coconut milk, it is not made with the coconut meat and has no fat or cholesterol.
Coconut water has been around for ages, but is finally getting the due appreciation now. It is now widely available in every supermarket in the form of young Thai coconuts and packages.
The journey to success of this tropical fruit from being an exotic beach drink to a popular sports and health drink is credited to its health and beauty benefits. Read more about coconut water for weight loss and detox, which is one of the top reasons for their popularity.
The sweet and nutty drink is a great way to boost your intake of essential minerals, vitamins and trace elements. They are also a good source of electrolytes and natural salts like potassium and magnesium.
It is not, however, a magic bullet and has potential dangers associated with it, which require you to use discretion before consideration.
Additional Calorie and Sugar
A cup of fresh coconut water contains 46 calories and most calories are in the form of sugars. Packaged varieties have even more sugar and calories added to improve the taste. So beware of the calories, which may be less compared to sodas and energy drinks but more than good old water. So, if you are just performing mild exercises for say about half an hour, you don’t need anything more than water for hydration. But if you are doing rigorous exercise, you should definitely reach out for coconut water before any other post workout or health drink.
A cup of coconut water contains 252mg of sodium, which accounts for 17 percent of your daily recommended sodium intake. For most people this should not be a concern. But if you are suffering from any heart ailments, high blood pressure or any other medical condition that prescribes low sodium diet, then you should be careful about the high sodium levels before incorporating it in your routine. Daily consumption of coconut water also increases your chance of high blood pressure and stomach cancer.
Coconut water has high levels of potassium of the order of 600mg per serving. Potassium is an important electrolyte that is usually lacking in the diets of most Americans. Though this is generally considered a plus when consumed in moderation and lowers blood pressure and risks of heart diseases. But excess of coconut water and thus potassium levels in a short period of time can trigger a condition called hyperkalemia. The general signs are abnormal heart rhythm variations and muscle contractions. Untreated high potassium levels can be life threatening.
High Blood Pressure
Chances are coconut water will lower your blood pressure. If you are taking prescription medicines for regulating your blood pressure, you should talk to your doctor first, as they might interfere with the medications.
Coconuts have recently been classified as a tree nut raising concerns among people allergic to tree nuts. There have been a few reported incidents where people with nut allergies had a bad reaction from coconut. But the cases are rare and in people with acute allergies. But if you are worried, talk to your doctor first.
Coconut water is generally considered safe and most people do not have to worry about the risks. The list of benefits far exceeds the few and not-so-serious side effects.
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Limit your intake to a glass or two per day and drink fresh juice right from the green coconut rather than packaged drinks that have flavoring, sugar and preservatives. Also consider drinking as soon as you cut open the coconut to avoid any contamination or loss of nutrients. Or else keep refrigerated for no more than a day before consuming.
For reference watch this video on nutritionfacts.org Coconut Water for Athletic Performance vs. Sports Drinks.
About author: Namrata Kothari is software engineer by education and a food and fitness blogger by passion. She is a lover of yoga and satire and has always been fascinated about nutrition and healthy living, but the real journey of research started after giving birth to two kids. She wanted to pass on good eating habits and balanced diet for their holistic growth, and started writing as a resource for others interested in the same.
If you’re interested in working with her either in person or remotely, please email her at [email protected]
Namrata currently lives in Bangalore. She is also a contributing health writer for superfoodliving.com. Read more of her articles here http://www.superfoodliving.com/author/namrata-kothari