Is Coconut Water Really Good For You?

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Is Coconut Water Really Good For You?
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Is Coconut Water Really Good For You?

Is coconut water as healthy as you think? Read on to discover the truth behind its health claims.

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All-Natural

Coconut water is an all-natural clear liquid extracted from young, green coconuts. At around nine months old, coconuts are full of flavorful water (which turns into white meat as it matures).

Not all Coconut Water Are Created Equal

Unlike the store-bought version, fresh coconut juice is not pasteurized and still retains beneficial enzymes that detox and repair the body. In addition, some brands contain added sugars and juices, so look for all-natural, unflavored coconut water.

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Low in Calories

One 11-ounce container of coconut water contains up to 60 calories, less than traditional sodas and sugary beverages. However, be careful not to drink too many, warns Dr. Lilian Cheung of Harvard School of Public Health, or the calories may add up.

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Fat-Free

Coconut water has almost no fat. Don’t get mixed up between coconut water and coconut milk, which is pressed from coconut flesh and is very high in saturated fat.

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Does Coconut Water Lower Cholesterol?

Previous studies linked coconut water to decreased lipid levels and fatty accumulation in cholesterol-fed rats and showed that coconut water has a lipid lowering effect similar to the drug lovastatin in rats. Whether the same can be said for humans has yet to be seen.

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High in Potassium

Eight ounces of coconut water contain 600 mg of the electrolyte potassium, which is nearly 1.5 times as much potassium as a medium banana.

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Can Coconut Water Replace Your Sports Drink?

While coconut water has much more potassium than traditional sports drinks, it has far too low carbohydrates and sodium to effectively replace them for strenuous exercise. Sports nutrition expert Becci Twombley advises consuming 15 to 17 grams of protein after a hard workout; coconut water provides less than 2 grams. The body also loses more sodium than potassium during a workout, so all that extra potassium won’t help.

Better Hydration?

Coconut water can help you hydrate during exercise, but a 2012 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed no significant differences between bottled water, coconut water and sports drinks for rehydration after moderate exercise.

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Is Coconut Water a Hangover Cure?

Popularly touted as a hangover cure, coconut water can help replenish fluids to alleviate dehydration after a night of drinking, but water is generally just as good. Electrolytes help less with hangovers and more with the effects of dehydration. If you’re having a hard time drinking water during a hangover, coconut water might be a more appetizing alternative.

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Does Coconut Water Fight Cancer

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, no major studies link coconut water to cancer prevention. Coconut water contains antioxidants like selenium, but this is also true for many fruits and vegetables.

Not as Healthy as You Think?

In 2011, an independent health-product testing firm found that coconut water nutritional content for three leading brands did not match the label for sugar, potassium, sodium and magnesium, sometimes varying as much as 82% lower than what the label states.

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Coconut water is marketed as an all-natural, low-calorie and fat and cholesterol-free sports drink, and many claim the beverage works miracles from curing hangovers to fighting cancer. It's no wonder the nation has been swept up in a coconut water craze. This neatly packaged drink that tastes like an island escape may be the drink du jour, but does it live up to its reputation as a health elixir?

Check out the slideshow above to find out if coconut water is as healthy as it seems.

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