Dr. Joseph Mercola has always stressed the health benefits of coconut and coconut products, especially coconut oil. But this time, he talks about another equally healthful coconut product: coconut water, a clear and refreshing liquid that comes from young, green coconuts. The Hawaiians even refer to coconut water as “noelani” or “dew from the heavens” due to its beneficial properties.
Comparing Coconut Water and Coconut Milk
Contrary to popular belief, coconut water and coconut milk are two different types of coconut products. Coconut milk is a thick, white liquid that is produced when ground coconut meat is diluted with plain water. It is a rich source of healthy fats, energy, and protein. It is a common ingredient in numerous Asian dishes. Coconut milk is made from 50 percent fat or protein and 50 percent water. It is often sold in grocery stores but can also be made at home.
Meanwhile, coconut water is a clear and light liquid, and is made of 95 percent water. If you pick up a young coconut and shake it, you will hear this liquid sloshing around inside. Coconut water is the liquid part of the endosperm (kernel) of the coconut. The endosperm is semisolid and jelly-like when coconuts are immature. As the coconut matures, the endosperm becomes more solid and fibrous and transforms into the firmer coconut meat that you are familiar with.
Health Benefits of Coconut Water
Dr. Mercola says that the list of health benefits of coconut water is impressive and grows with each new scientific study. One of the reasons why coconut water is very healthy is that the coconut palms grow on rich volcanic soils and mineral-rich seawater.
Some of the beneficial nutrients found in coconut water include:
- Natural B vitamins, minerals, and trace elements like selenium, zinc, sulfur, iodine, and manganese. Vitamins are needed for the enzymatic reactions your cells need in order to function.
- Organic acids, amino acids, enzymes, phytonutrients, and antioxidants
- Electrolytes and natural salts, like magnesium and potassium. Electrolytes are inorganic compounds that turn to ions in solution and have the capacity to conduct electricity. “You lose electrolytes (especially sodium and potassium) when you sweat, which must be replenished with food and water intake,” explains Dr. Mercola. Coconut water contains five important electrolytes needed by your body: potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus.
- Cytokinins are phytohormones or plant hormones that have anti-cancer, anti-aging, and anti-thrombolytic effects in humans. Coconut water is the richest natural dietary source of cytokinins.
Coconut water is light, low-calorie, and nearly fat-free. It is sweet but does not contain as much sugar as other fruit juices. This liquid also has an alkalizing effect on your body, which helps correct the cumulative effects of acid-rich foods.
Bruce Fife, coconut expert and author of the book Coconut Water for Health and Healing, says that clinical observation and scientific research showed that coconut water has many health benefits, such as:
- Increased exercise performance
- Improved circulation, regulated blood pressure, and reduced plaque formation
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Prevention of abnormal blood clotting
- Helps support proper kidney function
- Skin and eye health
- Helps support good immune function
- Anticancer properties
- Helps prevent diarrhea and constipation
- Helps balance insulin levels and blood glucose
- Promotes good digestion
Coconut oil has also been found to help prevent heart attacks and help maintain normal blood pressure levels. It also helps treat kidney and urethral stones. Dr. Eugenio Macalalag, director of the urology department of the Chinese General Hospital in the Philippines, reported that patients who were given coconut water two to three times a week showed a significant reduction in stone size and expulsion, removing the need for surgery (link).
Coconut Water Is a Great Sports Drink
Because it is a nutritional powerhouse, coconut water also works as a refreshing natural sports drink. Dr. Joseph Mercola says that most sports drinks today are only a waste of money and may actually worsen your health. Many of them are loaded with unhealthy components like artificial colors, chemicals, and refined sugars.
If you do moderate to high intensity exercise for 30 minutes a day, fresh, pure water can help you stay hydrated, says Dr. Mercola. However, if you exercise for longer periods (such as 60 minutes or longer), under the heat, or at extreme intensity levels, coconut water is a better option because of its high electrolyte content.
Dr. Mercola also recommends adding even a small pinch of natural Himalayan salt to your coconut water, especially if you’ve lost a lot of salt through sweating.
Dr. Mercola agrees that coconut water is indeed one of Nature’s perfect foods. Drinking it fresh from the fruit is the best way to enjoy this rejuvenating drink. Bottled coconut water is also okay, as long as it is pure and unprocessed.