It’s still summer, and for much of the Western world, that means the days are often sunny, hot, sticky and humid. While this is a blissful change from the frosty winters that make many of us northerners shudder to think about, summer still comes with its own challenges. One of the major ones is staying hydrated and maintaining electrolyte balance in our bodies.
While there is, of course, plain old water to soothe our thirst, if you want to take your summer hydration one step further — especially important if you’re doing intense workouts outside — look to delicious and refreshing coconut water. Coconut water is the clear, refreshing liquid found inside young coconuts (it dries as the coconut ages), and it’s been celebrated for generations by numerous cultures across the planet (mostly in tropical regions, for obvious reasons).
An excellent summary of the appeal of coconut water comes from a 2009 study published in the journal Molecules. On coconut water, the authors of this study wrote:
“Coconut water… with its many applications, is one of the world’s most versatile natural products. This refreshing beverage is consumed worldwide as it is nutritious and beneficial for health. There is increasing scientific evidence that supports the role of coconut water in health and medicinal applications… The wide applications of coconut water can be justified by its unique chemical composition of sugars, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytohormones.”
If you’re not convinced, or if you’d simply like to learn more about coconut water, here are six good reasons to drink it every day.
Coconut water is teeming with nutrition
Coconut water contains a wealth of nutrients — an impressive range of them, in fact. These include a wide range of B-vitamins (necessary for multiple functions in your body), a small but not insignificant amount of immune-boosting vitamin C, and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium and zinc. It also contains several amino acids.
Coconut water is incredibly hydrating
Along with vitamins, minerals and protein, coconut water also contains electrolytes. This combination, along with its light, hydrating nature, makes it a great workout drink. If you exercise heavily, especially in the summer, you may find it helpful to hydrate with a sports beverage, but most of the big names on the market are filled with refined sugars and other additives. Coconut water can replenish your potassium and sugar levels and hydrate you naturally, so it’s a way healthier option.
Some research has found that it works better than regular sports drinks, as well. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science tested the rehydrating effects of coconut water, a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and regular water on eight healthy men who underwent intense exercise and dehydration. On their results, the authors wrote:
“CW [coconut water] was significantly sweeter, caused less nausea, fullness and no stomach upset and was also easier to consume in a larger amount compared with CEB [carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage] and PW [plain water] ingestion. In conclusion, ingestion of fresh young coconut water, a natural refreshing beverage, could be used for whole body rehydration after exercise.”
Coconut water may help lower your blood pressure
Coconut water is one traditional remedy for high blood pressure, and it can be used in combination with other blood pressure-lowering ingredients to make delicious beverages. The potassium and magnesium that it contains both help to support cardiovascular and muscular function, as well as a healthy blood pressure range.
Coconut water is a great digestive aid
This refreshing beverage is very gentle on the stomach, as it contains electrolytes and is rich in a number of bioactive enzymes which help to support optimal digestion. If your digestive system is frequently unhappy, adding some coconut water to your day may be one way to soothe your symptoms. It can also help to rehydrate you if you are experiencing diarrhea.
Coconut water may help fight bacteria naturally
For a study published in 2009 in the journal Peptides, researchers tested the effects of three peptides (amino acid compounds) found in green coconut water against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. The researchers found that some of these peptides, “show remarkable potential to contribute to the development of novel antibiotics from natural sources.” In short, some of the proteins found in coconut water may help us in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Coconut water is versatile
There is so much you can do with coconut water. First and foremost, it’s great on its own as a hydrating beverage. Don’t just give up plain water, but add a glass or two (or three) of coconut water to your day and see how it works with your body. Additionally, you can add it to smoothies, juices, homemade salad dressings and many recipes.
You can also make many great health concoctions with coconut water. Try this coconut water health shot and this recipe for probiotic coconut kefir water.
Choosing the best coconut water
The best, freshest coconut water comes straight out of a freshly-cracked young coconut. However, these may not be exactly easy or practical to obtain all of the time. When searching for a bottled coconut water, check labels carefully. You don’t want any additives in the mix, and you especially don’t want added sugars.
If you haven’t sipped on a cool glass of coconut water yet this summer, I highly suggest you do so.
— Tanya Mead