Nutrition

Coconut Water – The Inside Scoop!

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So, what’s the deal with coconut water?

No doubt you’ve seen a few different varieties hanging around the shelves in grocery stores and convenience stores but if you’ve tasted it, you could be wondering what gives? Contrary to what you might think, coconut water does not taste anything like a poolside piña colada and isn’t what you would describe as refreshing.

In fact, the opposite couldn’t be more true. If you’ve tasted it, you know that it’s not exactly bursting with flavor and could even be accused of tasting like a bland and semi-sweet version version of diluted salt water. So what’s all the fuss?

No piña colada? No thanks!

But wait, it’s been called everything from “nature’s Gatorade” to the best hangover cure around so let’s push the flavor aside and get to the bottom of the coconut water complex.

Nature’s gatorade, hangover cure, the answer to all your hydration needs and most definitely not the tropical drink of your tastebud dreams?  

Here’s everything you need to know about coconut water and much, much more:

Simply Sourced

The benefits of coconut products are hugely diverse. Aside from the shredded coconut you bake with and eat, you might have used coconut oil when cooking, sunbathing (if you’re feeling reckless), or maybe even as a natural skin care product too. The moisturizing and hydrating properties of coconut oil are unmatched, and it makes a killer makeup removal tool too. It’s a popular addition to lotions, lip care products, and many other products as well. The lowly coconut is an incredibly diverse source of items you probably use every single day.

Coconut water is actually exactly what it sounds like, the water harvested from the center of a slightly immature, green coconut. Except technically, coconut water is a juice and shouldn’t be confused with coconut milk. Instead, coconut milk is an emulsion of coconut water and the inside, white flesh of a more mature coconut. Various types of coconut palms grow all over the tropics and each of them can produce several hundred green coconuts each season. Each of these young, green coconuts can contain anywhere from 200-1000 ml of water depending on type and size.

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Electrolytes And Much More

Coconut water is actually about 94% water. Ounce per ounce, most unflavored coconut water contains 5.45 calories, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 milligrams (mg) of potassium, and 5.45 mg of sodium compared to Gatorade, which has 6.25 calories, 1.75 grams of sugar, 3.75 mg of potassium, and 13.75 mg of sodium.

Coconut water is packed with natural electrolytes, stuff like simple sugars and minerals all primed to replenish and hydrate your body, which is why it’s often referred to as nature’s Gatorade. Electrolytes are minerals that maintain proper fluid balance and are in charge of muscle contraction, energy generation, and every other major biochemical reaction in the body. So yeah, you could say replenishing your electrolyte supplies is important, especially post- workout.

Coconut water is also high in the electrolyte potassium. 100 ml of coconut water has 250 mg of potassium and 105 mg of sodium. Coconut water has considerably more potassium than the average banana, and is naturally fat and cholesterol free. Potassium has also been shown to lower blood pressure and plays an important role in heart function, along with other digestive and muscle functions.


The magnesium in coconut water can help with nerve function which is important for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. This essentially allows muscle fibers to fire harder and with more endurance during high intensity workouts or activities.

The electrolyte content in coconut water is nearly double than that of traditional sports drinks, but with actually only about half the carbohydrates, which, we all know are a vital part of the recovery process. So if you’re using coconut water as a sports recovery beverage, you’ll need to compensate with additional carbohydrates to prevent the body from diving into muscle stores for sustenance instead.  

Coconut water has much less sugar than most sports drinks and significantly less sugar than most sodas and fruit juices. Because it’s an entirely natural source of minerals and electrolytes (be sure to check the label to make sure no additives were included in the coconut water) makes it appealing for the simple fact that the body processes natural nutrient sources much more readily than those that are overly processed and artificial.  

Antioxidant Power

Coconut water has antioxidants that can fight off free radicals, which are unstable molecules produced in cells during metabolism. This production typically increases during times of stress or injury which is known as “oxidative stress” with the potential to damage cells and put you at risk for disease. In certain studies, coconut water has been shown to effectively modify these damaging free radicals to keep them from causing further harm. This is where the hangover cure claim comes into play.

Hangover Cure, For Reals?

As far as the hangover cure claim goes, coconut water is actually pretty legitimate. Drinking alcohol causes the body to to experience the aforementioned oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can be repaired and replenished by the antioxidants contained in coconut water. Coconut water is also full of electrolytes, potassium specifically, that can help your body rehydrate and work in tandem with the antioxidants to help combat the adverse effects of a screaming hangover.

Hangover cure?

Maybe not entirely, but it can help reduce the effects and it is all-natural, which makes it a better solution than probably any other concoction you could possibly dream up and definitely worth a try.

We’re Not Done Yet

Aside from the super hydrating benefits of electrolytes contained in coconut water and the antioxidant effects, there are still even more good things in there worth mentioning about coconut water.

  • Coconut water contains cytokinins (e.g., kinetin and trans-zeatin) that are thought to have anti-aging, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-clotting effects.
  • Coconut water has bioactive enzymes such as acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase, RNA-polymerases, etc., which can act as powerful catalysts to aid in the digestive process of breaking down fats, proteins and starches.  
  • In tropic regions where coconut palms are native, coconut water is offered as a natural remedy to those suffering from diarrhea and intestinal distress and helps to replace fluids lost from the intestinal tract. It’s low in sodium and chlorides and contains certain amino acids, minerals and fatty acids, along with the necessary calories that can correct the debilitating and dangerous effects of dehydration.
  • Coconut water also has anti-thrombotic properties and can potentially reduce or prevent blood clots.
  • Coconut water has been shown to potentially fight against diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels, it’s high in fiber and an easily digestible carb and is also a good source of magnesium, which can help decrease blood sugar levels while improving insulin sensitivity.

Coconut Water In Supplements

Coconut water in powder form is freeze dried to protect its nutritional content and is generally cheaper, more portable, more environmentally conscious, and more readily available than boxed coconut water. In the supplement world, coconut water has become a fairly popular ingredient in many different formulas, thanks to this process. Powdered coconut water is included in all IdealLean BCAA’s as an important part of the recovery and repair process and to help you stay as lean and hydrated as possible, while giving your body access to all the nutritional benefits of coconut water itself.  Consider it a little bonus with all of the other good stuff included to keep your body running in top form.

Not A Miracle Cure, But Definitely Worth The Buzz

Coconut water is not a miracle cure for anything, however, it does have some pretty influential health and nutrition benefits that can’t be ignored. So while there’s no substitution for eating the right things and living a healthy lifestyle, there are things out there, like coconut water for example, that can make even the best practices a little bit better. No, you don’t have to be a hard core athlete or a clean diet guru to hydrate like one with the help of coconut water, but you can definitely benefit from the different electrolytes, antioxidants and any other health boosting nutrient contained in the juice of a young, green coconut. Seems simple, but the best things always are.

Coconut water, just say yes!

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Lindsey Mathews

Lindsey Mathews

Head Trainer & Nutritionist

Lindsey Mathews is the Head Trainer and Nutritionist at IdealFit. She is a NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, C-ISSN certified sports nutritionist, Pn. 1 certified nutrition coach, and a nationally qualified NPC bikini competitor. Before joining IdealFit, she ran the largest boot camp program in Utah County.


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