We’re nuts for coconuts.
Well, at least coconut water, which in recent years has been plucked from the tree and marketed as a super drink that can cure everything from high blood pressure to cancer.
But is such a reputation deserved? Not exactly – after all, there is no such thing as a cure-all superfood – but the potassium-rich drink is still great for all for a range of reasons.
But before we get to them, let’s start with a little coconut science.
What’s in the nut?
Coconut water is a nutrient-rich fluid found in young, green coconuts. It holds the fruit’s endosperm and as the coconut matures, those nutrients move from the water into the rind, which becomes the “meat” – that is, the white solid bit.
Coconut milk is what’s leftover after the meat has formed. It tastes and looks different than coconut water and has a much lower nutrient content.
Use 1: Super sports drink
Coconut water is more than 90 percent regular H2O. But unlike regular water, it’s rich in potassium, calcium and ( to a lesser degree) sodium. These are electrolytes, which are key ingredients in the internal fluids that help your neurons fire and muscles contract. Since people lose a lot of electrolytes through their sweat, replenishing them is the main purpose of sports drinks like Pocari Sweat and Gatorade, although those tend to also be loaded with processed sugar.
Enter coconut water: an all-natural, sweet-tasting drink that replenishes water and crucial electrolytes.
Use 2: Hangover cure
Despite what your older brother told you, the only sure-fire hangover cure is time. That being said, there are things you can do to ease its passage.
Since alcohol prevents your body’s reabsorption of water, a hangover is often associated with dehydration. This can be relieved, of course, by drinking water. But unlike regular water, coconut water contains high amounts of potassium, the loss of which – through urination – is another factor that makes hangovers feel so bad.
Bottom line: The H2O and potassium in coconut water will help your passage back into the realm of sober people.
Use 3: Helping prevent diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease (maybe)
Other than the electrolytes mentioned above, coconut water has a very small micronutrient content. Nevertheless, research suggests it could have a strong – if little understood – impact on overall wellness.
One suggests a link between coconut water and reduced blood pressure. When tested in rats, coconut water has also been shown to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce blood cholesterol (although there has been little human research for these effects).
Use 4: Hangover cause
The fresh, subtly-sweet favour of coconut water makes it an excellent mixer if you want to take a break from that whole healthy diet thing. Serve these tropical coconut cocktails straight from the shell:
- Coconut Cardamom Summer Cocktail (Cooking with Books)
- Coconut Gin & Tonic (Minimalist Baker)
- Coconut Water Vodka Cocktail (Martha Stewart)
- Ocean Water Mojito (Women’s Health)
Use 5: IV fluid for people on a budget
Just kidding. Don’t pump coconut water into your veins. But interestingly, the fluid’s sodium content and sterility in the shell have made it useful as an emergency rehydration fluid (we stress again: don’t try this).