Think Coconut Water Sounds Too Good to Be True? We Have News for You

Newsflash. Your favorite trendy beverage is packed with (legitimate) health benefits.

Coconut water has become one of the coolest sippable superfoods on the block in recent years, and there are few things more refreshing than an ice-cold glass of it after a run or yoga session. It's a great alternative to soda and the perfect add-on to smoothies without the added sugar. But with health claims ranging from hydration and electrolytes to being a catch-all for glowing skin and the ultimate hangover cure, it's natural to be skeptical of this stuff.

To better understand the juice found inside the coconut fruit (not to be confused with coconut milk, which is mostly coconut meat), we turned to Kaleigh McMordie, RD. She helped us cut through the health halo—and it turns out coconut water has several legitimate health benefits.

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important vitamin for maintaining a healthy immune system, as well as an antioxidant. "Coconut water naturally contains about 10% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C per serving," says McMordie.

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"Coconut water contains antioxidants that can neutralize damaging free radicals that cause oxidative stress on the body," explains McMordie. Antioxidants are found in a variety of coconut plant forms and products, which do show a range in their effectiveness. Meaning? "It's best to choose fresh coconut water for the highest antioxidant activity, as heat processing will reduce antioxidant activity."

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Hydration is one of coconut water's most celebrated attributes and for good reason. According to McMordie, coconut water naturally contains the electrolytes magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium, all of which are important for maintaining fluid balance in the body. In addition to keeping you hydrated, electrolytes help balance your body's pH, control muscle contractions, and recover post-workout.

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Workout Recovery

"Coconut water is about 95% water and contains both carbohydrates and electrolytes, making it a great beverage for hydration and recovery after a workout," explains McMordie. It's naturally much lower in sugar than sports drinks and doesn't contain artificial colors or flavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it good to drink coconut water everyday?

    Coconut water is healthy to drink in moderation. However, consider that one cup of coconut water contains 6.26 grams of sugar. While it is ideal for rehydrating after an intense workout, coconut water could increase your sugar and calorie intake too much if you drink it excessively. Dilute coconut water with filtered water or alternate between coconut water and other sources of hydration, like tea.

  • How much coconut water should you drink in a day?

    To avoid excess calories and sugar (but still enjoy the health benefits), stick to 1 small cup of coconut water per day. If you are working out heavily or are sick, drink 2 to 3 cups of coconut water per day to rehydrate, in addition to water and other sources of hydration.

  • How many calories are in coconut water?

    There are approximately 45.6 calories in 1 cup of coconut water. In addition, 1 cup of coconut water includes 1.73 grams of protein, 8.9 grams of carbohydrates, and .48 grams of fat.

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  1. USDA FoodData Central. Nuts, Coconut Water (Liquid From Coconuts).

  2. Santos JL, Bispo VS, Filho AB, et al. Evaluation of chemical constituents and antioxidant activity of coconut water (Cocus nucifera L.) and caffeic acid in cell cultureAn Acad Bras Cienc. 2013;85(4):1235-1247. doi:10.1590/0001-37652013105312

  3. Lau WY, Kato H, Nosaka K. Water intake after dehydration makes muscles more susceptible to cramp but electrolytes reverse that effect. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2019;9(5):e000478. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000478

  4. Kardalas E, Paschou SA, Anagnostis P, Muscogiuri G, Siasos G, Vryonidou A. Hypokalemia: a clinical updateEndocr Connect. 2018;7(4):R135-R146. doi:10.1530/EC-18-0109

  5. Water, Drinks and Your Health. NHS.

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