Coconut Water Health Benefits

Posted on 13 March 2013

The coconut palm has been described by classic Indian culture as “the all giving tree”.   After spending a week in Fortaleza, Brazil at the plantations of Liquid Investments,  I was overwhelmed by the numerous uses of the coconut.    One specific popular product that I use regularly from the coconut with respect to electrolyte replenishment is the “natural sport drink” – Coconut Water.

My first experience using coconut water occurred during a snowshoe marathon 5 years ago.   One of the aid station drink selections included a unique looking blue bottle with the name Zico.   I decided to give it a try after the volunteer mentioned that it was coconut water and offered some benefits similar to energy drinks without all the artificial sugars.  Sodium and potassium are the main electrolytes in coconut water.   The coconut water offered less sugar, less acidity than some of the various drinks at the aid station, which included the normal soft drinks.   The added benefit that I noticed immediately was a refreshing taste and no stomach distress, which I experience, with many of the sugar-based drinks.

Moving forward I have found significant benefits of including coconut water to supplement my standard electrolyte drinks.   Recently researchers in Malaysia compared rehydration efficacy of water, sports drinks and coconut water.  The study included a small sample of 10 men, each exercising for 90 minutes.    The results indicated that the coconut water was the most effective for rehydration and had no nausea related symptoms.   The standard 11-ounce container includes 14 grams of sugar and 670 milligrams of potassium.   As Suzanne Girard Eberle, R.D., mentions in her book Endurance Sports Nutrition, “Potassium works closely with sodium to maintain water balance and helps trigger muscles to contract and relax optimally”.   I have found that coconut water will have enough carbohydrates for an hour-long run but not enough sodium for longer efforts.  It’s easy to add sodium with various electrolyte capsules in the marketplace and test it for yourself based upon your specific sweat rate, calorie loss, etc. when working out.

There are many coconut water companies today, many owned by Coca Cola or Pepsi (they don’t add their name to the brand because of the potential demand and limited supply of coconut water).   Zico, Vita Coco,  O.N.E., Taste Nirvana, Nature Sip, Harmless Harvest are some of companies offering the product.

Consider using coconut water to supplement your training:

  1. Pre Workout
  2. During the workout in your water bottle
  3. Post Workout

It’s better for you teeth and your health compared to sugar based sports drinks.   Give it a try!

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