As coconut water gains notoriety as a healthy form of hydration, it has become “nature’s sports drink” to the health-conscious community. Touted to be almost as healthy as water itself, it contains vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes and thus provides many health benefits.

However, is coconut water healthy overall? The answer largely depends on the source. Not all coconut water is created equal. The vast majority of coconut water consumed comes from its source, then the producers box and ship it off to businesses. It often arrives with additives and fewer nutrients.

Glass with coconut water next to coconut

What Is Coconut Water?

Unfortunately, the common image of coconut water that comes to mind is a 16 oz carton or can with a picture of a coconut or coconut tree. Bottled coconut water is so widespread that people associate true coconut water only with a tropical vacation.
Don’t confuse it with coconut milk! Coconut water is a clear liquid people get from green, immature Cocos nucifera L. (coconut) drupes. As coconuts mature, they come with more flesh and less nutrient-dense water. You can consume coconut water directly by a coconut or in the popular boxed or canned fashion.

Although coconut water looks a lot like H2O, there are no studies claiming that you can use it in place of H2O. It is, however, an excellent source of hydration. It also doesn’t hurt that coconut water has a sweet, refreshing taste, especially when served cold.

Natural Coconut Water Ingredients

  • Electrolytes;
  • Natural Sugar;
  • Saturated Fat;
  • Protein;
  • Vitamin C;
  • B6;
  • B12.

Boxed and Canned Coconut Water May Contain One or More Additives

The following list may have you wondering “Is coconut water healthy enough?” The above natural ingredients are healthy, but bottled coconut water may not suit your consumption because of these possible ingredients:

  • GMO Sugar;
  • Other Fruit Flavors;
  • Water (H20);
  • Carcinogens.

Dangers of Coconut Water

Is coconut water healthy? When it comes to the au natural version, the major worries are age and toxicity. The older the coconut, the fewer amount of nutrients in the water. There is also concern over pesticides such as formaldehyde. However, this thick-skinned drupe passed numerous pesticide tests including a study that tested for 11 pesticides, which turned out to be undetectable.

Bottled coconut water causes more concern:

  • Coconut water from concentrate undergoes a process that removes the water, and later people add water back. One might wonder just how many nutrients it loses during extraction of the original water and what is the quality of the water that comes in later.
  • Pasteurized coconut water undergoes a heat process to kill harmful organisms. But the process can kill beneficial organisms, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Adding preservatives like carcinogens has become a trend to increase shelf life. However, as stated above, coconuts’ thick skin serves as a protective layer.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) result when multiple species’ DNA combines to “improve” produce. However, one study composed by A. S. Bawa and K. R. Anilakumar mentions the antibiotic-resistant diseases they cause in the human body. Furthermore, we only know little about their long-term effects.

Are There Benefits to Drinking Coconut Water?

Coconut water has more benefits than this blog can mention. For one, it contains electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. A single coconut yields over 500 mg of potassium. The daily recommended value is almost 5,000 mg, but supplements and the American diet make this difficult to achieve. Potassium helps maintain heart, thyroid and nerve health. Along with magnesium, it also has impressive calming effects and helps the body fight viruses. Multiple studies, like  Potassium and Health, bolster its efficacy in preventing high blood pressure and heart disease.

Coconut water is high in sugar and may aggravate candida overgrowth. However, coconut water can counteract this effect. One study on the candida inhibition factors of coconut oil and water mentions coconut products have antimicrobials and antitumor constituents. Moreover, it says you can use it intravenously to hydrate patients. So it’s such an effective anti-microbial that doctors use it in patient IV’s.

In weighing the dangers against the benefits, coconut water proves to be more healthy than dangerous in general. From heart health to safe hydration, it deserves its top rank. You can dismiss the common doubts related to natural coconut water (straight from the source) by simply choosing young, green coconuts. Additionally, coconuts’ impenetrable shell should secure it a 16th place in the clean 15.

On the other spectrum, concentration, pasteurization and GMO’s are doubtworthy. Fortunately, you can choose some other healthy packaged options. Some brands use organic, non-GMO, unpasteurized coconut water that is not from concentrate. So there is no reason to fret over the dangers when healthier packaged options exist in addition to simply cracking open a coconut. So, is coconut water healthy enough? It’s safe to say yes.

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