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The Science-Backed Health Benefits of Coconut Water

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What exactly is in coconut water?

Well, it's pretty straightforward: Coconut water is the clear liquid inside coconuts. You'd typically get coconut water from young, green coconuts—those harvested at five to seven months of age, explains Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition—versus older, browner coconuts, which are a better source of coconut milk.

FYI, coconut milk is actually made from a mixture of coconut water and grated coconut, adds Kacie Vavrek, R.D., an outpatient dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. And coconut milk, which is thicker than coconut water, tends to be higher in fat and calories.

Coconut water is packed with nutrients and low in calories, since it's mostly water (about 95 percent), says Axe. One cup of coconut water contains about 46 calories, almost 3 grams of fiber, 11 to 12 grams of natural sugar, and plant compounds and electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorus, says Vavrek. "The electrolyte content depends based on the maturity of the coconut, so the amounts in coconut water may vary," she adds. But it has especially high levels of potassium—"one cup contains approximately 600 milligrams or 12 percent of your daily value," says Axe.

What health benefits does coconut water have?

People love to tout coconut water as a cure-all health drink. We can confirm, it's definitely good for you: "Potassium, calcium, and magnesium (all electrolytes) play important roles in helping to maintain heart health, liver and kidney health, digestive functions, healthy blood sugar levels, muscle and nerve functions, and more," says Axe.

Coconut water was shown to improve systolic blood pressure (the higher number of a blood pressure reading) in 71 percent of the participants in one study; that may be due to the high levels of potassium, "which helps to counteract the blood pressure-boosting effects of sodium," says Vavrek.

Obviously, lower blood pressure can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, but there are other elements of coconut water that can also reduce that potential. "Coconut water helps to decrease total cholesterol and triglyceride levels," says Axe. "And its magnesium content also seems to lead to improvements in blood sugar levels and reductions in oxidative stress, which are tied to metabolic syndrome/diabetes."

And then there are its potential antioxidant powers. "We know that coconut 'meat' contains some amino acids and protein fractions that have antioxidant effects, such as albumin, globulin, prolamine, glutelin-1, and glutelin-2," says Axe. "And studies focused on the content of cytokinins, or naturally occurring plant hormones that may help reduce the growth of cancer cells, suggest that coconut water may contain some anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer properties."

Source and full article:
The Health Benefits of Coconut Water
 
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After being trapped on a deserted island for four years with only a volleyball for company, I think I'll pass... :p
 

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