If you're considering adding coconut water to your daily routine, read on for everything there is to know about the nutrient-packed beverage, from how it can positively impact your well-being to the best options to stock your fridge with.
What is coconut water, exactly?
Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is the juice found inside a coconut. While coconut water is mostly exactly that—water—coconut milk "is made by blending coconut meat with water," says Serena Poon, CN, a chef and certified nutritionist. This mixture ends up being a much thicker consistency than coconut water.
- Brittnee Cannon, RDN, Philadelphia-based registered dietitian and the owner of Your Plant Based Baby
- Kaytee Hadley, MS, RDN, CPT, registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Richmond, Virginia
- Serena Poon, CN, celebrity chef, certified nutritionist, and Reiki master
- Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian and women’s health expert
Is coconut water good for you? Very. There also aren’t many side effects of coconut water to be aware of. If you look at the coconut water nutrition stats, here's what you'll find in a one-cup serving:
- Calories: 49
- Carbohydrates: 12 g
- Sugar: 11 g
- Calcium: 60 mg
- Potassium: 559 mg
- Sodium: 34 mg
Thanks to coconut water’s explosion in popularity in recent years (just like coconut sugar!), it’s easy to find at most grocery stores. That means reaping all the coconut water benefits is a breeze.
7 coconut water benefits you should know about
There are numerous benefits of drinking coconut water daily. Thanks to its fiber and magnesium, it supports healthy digestion, ensuring things stay moving. And because of its hydration powers and vitamin C content, there’s even coconut water benefits for your skin. So what are you waiting for? Here’s everything you should know before you start sipping.
1. It’s hydrating
Is coconut water hydrating? It sure is, all thanks to coconut water’s electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. While electrolytes are great for everyday consumption (they help regulate your pH, keep you well-hydrated, and control muscle contractions), they're especially helpful in certain situations. “Coconut water could be a good choice for rehydration after a long or intense workout, an illness during which you experience vomiting or diarrhea, or after a day out in the sun," says Poon.
In fact, coconut water's hydration powers make it excellent for when you're sick, according to Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD, a registered dietitian-nutritionist in New York City. "If you’re making a lot of trips to the bathroom or suffering from a fever, chances are you’re losing a lot of fluids. Drinking water will help, but you may continue to feel dehydrated until your electrolytes are fully replenished," she previously told Well+Good in an episode of You Versus Food. That's why she's all about coconut water, which naturally contains more electrolytes than regular water.
2. It supports healthy digestion
Chugging enough water every day keeps everything moving along just dandy in your digestive system and allows nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Coconut water, though, takes things to the next level thanks to its fiber and magnesium content. (Surprised?) "Fiber is a crucial component of healthy digestion, as it helps move waste through your system," says Poon. "Magnesium helps to relax your muscles and is often taken in supplement form to help relieve conditions like constipation."
3. It supports healthy skin
Now onto the coconut water benefits for your skin. Keeping our bodies nice and hydrated doesn't just support healthy organ function. It also supports optimal skin health. Regular H20 provides the same benefit, but with coconut water, you also get a small dose of skin-enhancing vitamin C—around 10 milligrams per 100 grams, according to the coconut water nutrition stats.
"Vitamin C has been shown to support collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," says Poon. "Coconut water isn't going to be the magic bullet toward beautiful skin, but it certainly can help you cultivate beauty from the inside out."
4. It’s good for your heart
By now you know that coconut water is a great source of potassium. That's not only good news in terms of hydration, but it also directly benefits the cardiovascular system.
“Coconut water can help support heart health. Being a high-potassium beverage, it helps the body balance blood pressure levels,” says Brittnee Cannon, RDN, a Philadelphia-based registered dietitian and the owner of Your Plant Based Baby. “Many Americans tend to consume too much sodium and not enough potassium, so having a nutritious source of potassium helps promote healthy blood levels by lowering the effect of excess sodium.”
Past research has linked regular potassium consumption with a lowered risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. Considering heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, that's a very good reason for drinking coconut water on the reg.
5. It may help lower cholesterol
Another reason why coconut water is good for cardiovascular health is that it may help keep cholesterol levels in check. One past study found this to be the case—at least in rats. More research needs to be done in order to confirm the connection in human health, but the results are promising.
6. It contributes to bone health
The calcium in coconut water is directly linked to helping keep teeth and bones strong, as up to 99 percent of calcium is stored in our bones. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, adults ages 19 to 50 need at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. One serving of coconut water has 60 mg, which isn't a ton, but every little bit counts.
7. It helps prevent chronic inflammation
When the body experiences high levels of inflammation for a prolonged amount of time, it can lead to chronic disease and cognitive decline. Eating foods high in antioxidants helps mitigate this risk, and past research confirms you can add coconut water to your anti-inflammatory shopping list. Now that’s a coconut water benefit to get excited about.
“Coconut water contains antioxidants, which help to prevent and reverse damage in our body caused by our daily activities like eating, breathing, and exercising,” says Kaytee Hadley, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian based in Richmond, Virginia. “Diets high in antioxidants have been shown to help prevent many different chronic diseases, from cancer to diabetes.”
How much coconut water should I drink?
Clearly, coconut water makes a great companion to your regular water consumption. Like with most things, though, it’s absolutely possible to have too much of a good thing.
One such example: Is coconut water hydrating? Yes. But Poon points out that coconut water has about 50 to 60 calories per 8-ounce serving, so chugging it like you would good ol' H20 all day long isn't recommended. It also naturally contains some sugar, and some brands add even more to theirs, making it definitely not equivalent to drinking water.
So how much coconut water should you be drinking in order to reap the benefits without overdoing it? Whether you’re wanting to take advantage of coconut water’s electrolytes or skin-boosting benefits, Poon suggests sticking to one to two cups of coconut water per day at most.
Are there any side effects to drinking coconut water?
Sure, coconut water is good for you. But while this buzzy beverage is loaded with nutritional benefits, there are also some side effects of coconut water to be aware of.
For starters, over-consuming potassium can cause some digestive issues including diarrhea—not fun. “People with irritable bowel syndrome, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or other gut conditions may be triggered by drinking coconut water because it is considered high-FODMAP,” says Hadley. “This means it contains specific types of carbohydrates that could aggravate bloating, gas, and stomach pain.”
According to Cannon, anyone with kidney issues should also limit their intake. “Those with kidney disease or any condition in which they need to watch their potassium levels should avoid drinking too much coconut water since it’s high in potassium,” she says.
The best coconut water to buy
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when shopping for coconut water. First, be sure to read the label to make sure there isn’t any added sugar. There's really no need for that anyway; coconut water is already sweet enough on its own. Also, look for a product that’s pure coconut water—not something made from concentrate. “When brands add unnecessary sugars or source it from concentrate, the drink becomes more like another unhealthy fruit juice versus a nutritious water alternative,” says Cannon.
Below, find the coconut water brands that are free from added sugar and other additives, ensuring the coconut water is as nutritionally beneficial as possible.
This pick is pure coconut water. The only ingredient listed on the label is the coconut water itself, plain and simple. It’s also Non-GMO Project certified.
- 100 percent pure coconut water
- Contains no artificial sweeteners or preservatives
- Harvested from young coconuts, which are hand-picked from the tree
- Some reviewers dislike the taste
Harmless Harvest is known for using organic coconuts sourced from Thailand. There’s no sugar added to the drinks.
- 100 percent pure coconut water
- USDA certified organic and Fair For Life certified
- Partners with farms that use sustainable methods
- Pricey compared to other options
Taste Nirvana is a family-owned business that sources its coconuts from Thailand. Special attention is taken to ensure the coconuts are sourced as sustainably as possible. The coconut water is also Non-GMO Project certified.
- Contains no preservatives
- Made from young coconuts harvested at their peak flavor
- Reviewers say it’s one of the best-tasting options on the market
- Pricey compared to other options
This coconut water contains one simple ingredient (coconut water, of course!) and uses hand-harvested coconuts sourced from Thailand and other parts of Asia. Another fun fact: One bottle contains as much potassium as a banana.
- Made from young, naturally-sweet coconuts
- Free from added sugar and never from concentrate
- Contains five naturally-occurring electrolytes
- Some reviewers dislike the taste
Can I make coconut water at home? Or do I *have* to buy it?
One of the many beauties of coconut water is how ridiculously easy it is to make it at home. All you need is a coconut (duh), a sharp knife, and a straw. Poon recommends carefully creating a small opening using your knife at the weak point on the underside of the coconut to pop it open. Then, just stick in a reusable straw, sip, and enjoy.
"Most of the coconuts available in America are imported from the Asian countries of Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand," says Poon. You can find these coconuts at many grocery stores and marketplaces.
How to incorporate coconut water into your daily routine
Now that you know all the benefits of drinking coconut water daily, you’re probably already dreaming up ways to incorporate it into your routine. Here are a handful of ideas to get your creative juices flowing, so to speak.
1. Drink it straight up
If regular water feels too dull and you have a hard time hitting your daily hydration goal, consider switching things up with coconut water. "Coconut water has a delicious, almost sweet flavor," Poon says. In other words, it makes hydration a bit more fun (and taste a bit better, too).
2. Add it to your smoothies
Are you tired of adding almond milk to your morning smoothies or acai bowls? Poon suggests giving coconut water a try for a boost of flavor and nutrients. It also makes a good swap for plant-based milks in your favorite dessert recipes.
3. Make popsicles
One of the best coconut water recipes? Popsicles. "Blend coconut water and fresh fruit and freeze [the mixture] to make natural and nutritious popsicles," says Poon. Enjoy them year-round—not just during the hot summer months.
4. Turn it into ice cubes
If you're feeling fancy, Poon suggests swapping your regular ice cubes and making your own out of coconut water. Then pop them into your favorite cocktail or mocktail for a refreshing twist. Tropical coconut sangria, anyone?
5. Mix it into your salad dressing
Yes, you can add coconut water to jazz up your salads, too. "Mix it with oil and spices to create a tropical-flavored salad dressing," says Poon. Yum.
As you can see, there are many benefits to incorporating coconut water into your diet and there's no shortage of ways to do so. That's sweet on so many levels.
Frequently asked questions about coconut water
Is coconut water good for you?
There are numerous benefits of coconut water that make it nothing short of a healthy fridge staple, including its ability to better your heart health and bone health, prevent chronic inflammation, and support healthy digestion. There are even coconut water benefits for your skin (hello, healthy glow). And don’t forget about coconut water’s electrolytes, which keep you feeling your best. “It helps you stay hydrated and can replenish the body of water and electrolytes lost from sweating or sickness like diarrhea,” says Cannon.
Just be sure to pay attention to coconut water’s nutrition stats when shopping. “Watch out for the added sugar in many coconut water brands,” says Hadley. “The label should read ‘0 grams’ under the added sugar section, meaning that all of the sweetness is naturally occurring from the coconut itself.” Cannon says to also choose a brand where the only ingredient is 100 percent coconut water—not a bunch of unnecessary additives.
What happens if I drink coconut water every day?
According to Cannon, there are some benefits of drinking coconut water daily. If you add it to your routine, you’ll “have an additional source of beneficial electrolytes like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, depending on the source,” she says. It can also help you meet your daily hydration needs. But, of course, balance is key. Limit coconut water to a maximum of one to two cups per day.
When should I drink coconut water?
If you’re wondering when the best time to drink coconut water is, Cannon has a simple answer to that: “Anytime is a great time to drink coconut water and hydrate the body,” she says. With that being said, because coconut water is so hydrating, you’ll feel especially great if you drink it first thing in the morning. After being asleep for hours, your body will be more than ready to be rehydrated.
Another prime opportunity to drink coconut water is before or after a workout. “Coconut water is an excellent workout drink because it provides the electrolytes sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium that are lost while sweating. The simple sugars help the body use those electrolytes and also act as fuel for muscles,” says Hadley. “You can drink coconut water about 30 minutes before a workout or during to help fuel you, or even afterward to help replenish your body.”
Who should not drink coconut water?
While there aren’t many side effects of coconut water, anyone with kidney issues may want to monitor their intake. “People with kidney disease and those taking ACE inhibitors should limit coconut water intake because too much potassium can be harmful for them,” says Hadley. Always consult your doctor before adding the beverage to your diet.
- Weaver, Connie M. “Potassium and health.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) vol. 4,3 368S-77S. 1 May. 2013, doi:10.3945/an.112.003533
- Sandhya, V G, and T Rajamohan. “Beneficial effects of coconut water feeding on lipid metabolism in cholesterol-fed rats.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 9,3 (2006): 400-7. doi:10.1089/jmf.2006.9.400
- Santos, João L A et al. “Evaluation of chemical constituents and antioxidant activity of coconut water (Cocus nucifera L.) and caffeic acid in cell culture.” Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias vol. 85,4 (2013): 1235-47. doi:10.1590/0001-37652013105312
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