Apr 162013

About a year ago my friend Ginger suggested I write a column about the health and nutrition benefits of Coconut Water.  Well, as you can see, I didn’t jump right on it.  It takes me awhile to sort out what might be just a health-craze, or another way for the multi-trillion dollar health industry to make a few more dollars. Not this time.  Coconut water is indeed loaded with nutrition, in the form of electrolytes, as well as other antioxidants that have an age defying effect on skin.  Now I’m double interested.

What is Coconut water?

Coconut water is not water with coconut flavor added. It’s the fluid inside the coconut, not to be confused with coconut milk, which is an emulsion of coconut water and fresh grated coconut.

Compared to other juices and sports drinks, coconut water has similar or fewer carbohydrates and calories in an 8-ounce serving. In fact it is almost entirely fat and sugar free. However, coconut water has more potassium, sodium, and magnesium than most juices.

What are the Nutrition benefits of Coconut water?

According to WebMD “It has fewer calories, less sodium, and more potassium than a sports drink. 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.”  So it is almost entirely sugar free and it is fat free.  That makes it one smart expenditure of calories for a great return.

Coconut water may be better at replacing lost fluids than a sports drink or water — as long as you enjoy the taste. A study recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that coconut water replenishes body fluids as well as a sports drink and better than water.  For a great post work-out drink, mix with protein powder to help muscles recover.

Coconut water contains electrolytes, B vitamins, various plant hormones, enzymes, and amino acids. Some substances in coconut water could theoretically have antioxidant benefits in the body.

What are some other ways to use Coconut water?

  • Make a tray of ice cubes—add to smoothies.  Their mild flavor is great and will help to quench thirst.  Try them in a green smoothie with kale or spinach.
  • Add to alcoholic beverages or Iced tea—with less calories than fruit juice and yet a sweet flavor this could work.  Plus it will keep the dehyrating effects of alcohol at bay.
  • Coconut Popsicles—I can think of all sorts of flavors to add to these for a fun summer treat—mango, paypaya, banana or strawberries.  Using a bit of greek yogurt will make them creamy.
  • As a skin quencher—drinking coconut water will help replenish your skin from the inside out, but you can use it a skin freshener to hydrate your skin after a day at the beach—nice and cold– and is blessing for people with oily skin or acne. Coconut water is a good source of plant hormones called cytokinins. These plant hormones may have an anti-aging effect on human cells, keeping them smooth, full and young-looking. When applied directly to your skin, cytokinins in coconut water may act on the connective tissue in your skin to keep its youthful elasticity.

I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s recipe for Coconut/Fruit Popsicles.

And with summer coming, read How much Water Should I Drink to ensure that you stay safely hydrated.

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