The one stop shop for clear skin, improved mood, weight loss, hydration, better blood pressure . . . ? Why not?
Food fads come and go but coconut water seems to stick around. With health claims like, ‘get delicate, baby soft skin,’ or ‘lose those extra pounds and look fabulous,’ how can it not?
Let’s dig a little deeper to find out the truth about this coconut water cure-all.
Unfortunately, there is no direct connection between coconut water and skin health. However, hydration is very important for our skin. Coconut water is also a decent source of vitamin C (9% daily value in 1 cup) which is important in collagen synthesis and can prevent our skin from sun damage. So, while coconut water alone may not prevent our skin from aging, it does have properties that can benefit our skin.
I’ve seen coconut water hyped as the key to weight loss. This seems to be a little misleading. Unfortunately, there is no one food or drink that will magically make you shed weight or cure all of life's problems (sorry!). Yes, coconut water is a healthier alternative to soda. So, if you are drinking excessive amounts of soda- coconut water, regular water, seltzer, or kombucha would all save you calories and sugar and may contribute to weight loss.
I've also seen claims that the fiber in coconut water helps to fill you up and aid in weight loss. While yes, fiber does help to fill you up, coconut water does not actually contain fiber.
Lower Blood Pressure, Prevent Heart Disease
Coconut water is high in potassium, with anywhere between 400 and 700mg per bottle. Potassium is an electrolyte and is important for muscle function (including the heart) and water balance. Studies have linked diets high in sodium (processed foods) and low in potassium (fruits and vegetables) to increased blood pressure. While we do know there is a connection between diet, sodium, potassium and heart health - it may be stretching the truth to say drinking coconut water will lower your blood pressure and prevent heart disease. Many Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables and if coconut water is something you enjoy it is a great way to increase the potassium in your diet.
Magnesium plays a large role in maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Coconut water does contain a decent source of magnesium and magnesium deficiency has been linked with depression (here).
Hydrates Better Than Water
There is no research supporting this claim. If you are dehydrated you would need to drink a significant amount of coconut water (or regular water) to rehydrate- if you can tolerate large quantities, have at it.
Coconut water is marketed as the perfect post-workout recovery drink. This is because it contains electrolytes and is especially high in potassium. This is great, except when we sweat we are mostly losing sodium, not so much potassium. After a workout, our bodies need water, carbohydrates, protein, and some sodium (especially after a good sweat).
Coconut water is a great alternative to soda and other sweetened beverages or even fruit juice. It contains no added sugars and is low in calories and is a good source of vitamins and minerals. Some of the claims we hear tend to stretch the truth, so while there are some health benefits it’s misleading to think that coconut water is your key to weight loss, heart health, and clear skin. If you like the taste of coconut water, enjoy, but a glass of water and a banana provide similar benefits (for a fraction of the cost).