I had my first taste of coconut water in 2013 when I was visiting Canada. My first impression was disappointing. I thought it would be sweet and creamy, more like coconut milk. After forcing myself to finish the bottle, I decided coconut water wasn’t for me (or so I thought…)
Flash forward to my vacation in Bali one year later, and I was a changed woman. My friend, Alix, encouraged me to try a chilled, fresh coconut. Obviously it didn’t compare to the packaged version. I was hooked. Fresh coconut water, straight from the source, is mildly sweet and refreshing. Plus, getting to drink the water directly from the coconut while lying on a beach can definitely convince anyone how delicious it is. I can’t even count how many coconuts we had during our 2 month backpacking trip. We aimed for one-a-day.
Although living in Seoul I’m not able to enjoy a fresh coconut, I have found some great, pure choices available here. Now that I have completed nutrition school and am bursting with knowledge, I’m excited to share my favourite health benefits of pure coconut water.
Great for Hydration
Coconut water is 95% water, which is great at quenching thirst and replenishing lost fluids. It also contains many minerals that act as electrolytes within our bodies. These electrolytes become ions, important for the electrical signalling necessary for our nervous system, brain, heart and other muscles to function. The electrolytes also function to maintain the proper water balance in the body and pH of our blood.
Source of Potassium
Many people are aware of the fact that bananas are a great source of potassium. Coconut water has about 5 times the level of potassium, making this drink an important way to get ions inside our body. Potassium is used to regulate heart rate and muscle function
Source of Magnesium
Magnesium has many uses in the body. Mainly it works to maintain the electrical potential of the body cells (keeps the cells active). This is very important for proper muscle function. Cramped muscles can be relieved by increasing magnesium intake in the diet. Magnesium is also the ion that keeps calcium in solution. It acts sort of as a transporter for calcium. WIthout magnesium, calcium would not be able to be absorbed by our cells. Magnesium is just as important for bone health as calcium!
The standard (western) diet contains many foods that are acid-producing in the body. Foods such as sugar, dairy and wheat are the main culprits. The problem with this is that the body has to work to maintain a constant blood pH between 7.35-7.45. To regulate blood pH, ions are pulled from other body tissues to compensate. If the fluids of the body are already acidic, minerals are pulled out of the bones and tissues. This leads to weaker bones and muscles. An acidic state in the body is associated with osteoporosis, muscle loss, and kidney stone formation. Overly acidic body conditions leads to inflammation of the tissues. Internal inflammation is a huge risk factor for many chronic diseases.
Used by Athletes
The hydrating quality and electrolyte content of coconut water is a great, natural alternative to sugary sports drinks. The sugar content helps to give a boost of energy. As these are natural sugars, they are a stable source of energy, and an energy crash afterwards will be avoided. The water content helps to replenish the liquid lost from sweat. Coconut water can be consumed before, during or after physical activity.
What exactly are cytokinins? Cytokinins are a plant hormone, or phytohormone, that regulate the growth, development and aging of a plant. These phytohormones have been found to have an anti-aging effect on human cells. So, consuming foods containing cytokinins in your diet may have an anti-aging effect and reduce the risk for degenerative and age-related diseases.
Ok, this is obviously subjective, but compared to other “sports” drinks, coconut water is the better choice. I love experiencing the natural flavour of foods, so I usually drink my coconut water straight. As an alternative, you could use it to make a smoothie or blend with another juice of your choice.
Brands in Korea
There are two quality brands that I have tried in Korea. Vita Coco and Pure Coconut Water. I’ve seen them in convenience stores as well as regular grocery stores, so it’s easy to buy anywhere. Pure Coconut Water is my personal favourite as I feel that is has the freshest flavour. It can be a bit pricey though, but so worth it.
As a warning, watch for other brands that have added sugar. I made the mistake of buying a bottle of coconut water that was sweetened and it was such a waste. The best coconut water will be 100% natural, not from concentrate with no preservatives added.
Journal of Anti-aging medicine
Bottom Line Health