What is Coconut Water?
Most people are familiar with coconut milk, a staple ingredient in Thai curries, and coconut cream, a delicious addition to Pina Coladas. Coconut milk and cream are pressed or distilled from the meat of the coconut. Coconut water, on the other hand, is the naturally occurring water in the middle of immature coconuts. If you're stranded on a tropical island, remember that fact when you're looking for fresh water!
Uses for Coconut Water
One of the benefits of coconut water is its high potassium content. Bananas are also a good source, with 422 mg in a medium banana. By comparison, 11 ounces of coconut water has 660 mg of potassium (and only 66 calories). The drink is popular with athletes because it's a naturally occurring way to increase potassium that hydrates as well. Potassium is an electrolyte that's vital for nerves and muscles, and it also works as a counterbalance to sodium, which many people consume in excess.
Compared to juice, coconut water is low in calories, with a cup containing 48 calories, while the same amount of apple juice has 120 calories. Coconut water is also high in fiber and contains five times the magnesium of a cup of apple juice. Although it has a slightly sweet taste, it's low in carbohydrates compared to soda, juice and milk. Coconut water also has trace amounts of minerals and vitamins, including vitamin C and riboflavin. It's a useful alternative for anyone who's trying to stay hydrated and is tired of drinking plain water.
Coconut water can encourage more drinking and help get needed fluids into your body. Also, whenever you drink a lot of water, you lose potassium, and that can lead to painful muscle cramps, especially in the legs. While it's true that there are many high-potassium foods, they can also include extra fat, carbohydrates and calories. And it's a lot easier to grab a cup of coconut water than a serving of spinach when you need more potassium.
The verdict is still out on whether coconut water helps reduce cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels in the blood. Studies so far have indicated that this might be the case, but so far, rats are the only animals that have benefited, since human trials with coconut water haven't yet taken place. The potassium, magnesium and vitamin C in coconut water are all substances that help control blood pressure, and some sports figures credit it with increasing their endurance. Low magnesium and dehydration are implicated in migraine headaches, so coconut water could be a preventative. And the reason it's touted as a hangover cure is probably that alcohol is dehydrating and causes oxidative stress to the body. Some people say it also helps settle the stomach after a night of drinking.
Coconut Water and Skin
A variety of skin products are available for purchase with coconut water as an ingredient, from body wash to moisturizer. You can also make facial products at home by combining coconut water with other ingredients that are beneficial for skin like plain yogurt and manuka honey. There can be no argument against cleansing your skin with a substance that contains vitamins and nutrients. The question is whether coconut water imparts any special benefits to the skin with regular use.
Scientific evidence supports the use of coconut oil for healthy skin and shiny hair, so it's tempting to believe that coconut water will also have beneficial properties for skin. In many parts of the world, coconut water has traditionally been used for health and beauty, and it does have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. It also contains cytokines for cell growth and lauric acid, a substance that protects against infection. The verdict here is that using coconut water on your skin sure couldn't hurt, and probably helps.
A Natural Product with Benefits
Just make sure that the coconut water you buy is the pure, unadulterated form of the water. Some brands add coffee, fruit juice or sugar to make it taste (and sell) better. It's not a replacement for other foods, but coconut water is low in calories and a good source of potassium. And the slightly sweet, nutty flavor encourages people to drink enough to stay hydrated. Like any good thing, it's best for you when used in moderation. We can certainly conclude that coconut water has a positive effect on diet, beauty and health.