Coconut Water Benefits and Recipes

A glass of coconut water with all its benefits, next to two halves of coconut and a whole coconut, outdoors.

At a Glance

  • The coconut has been used for many years for both nutritional and medicinal purposes in tropical countries.
  • Coconuts are packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, B6, E and K, riboflavin, folate and calcium.
  • Coconut water is a delicious addition to any juicing recipe.

Coconuts are the fruit of the coconut palm tree which grows in the tropics. The juice or water is the clear liquid inside immature green coconuts. Young coconut juice is sweet and refreshing to drink.

In the Pacific islands, locals call the coconut, ‘tree of life’ for its versatility of use as a food and medicine. Coconut water is pure and sterile, it was used intravenously in place of saline fluids by Pacific medics during the second world war.

One of nature’s most hydrating drinks, coconut water has long been enjoyed in the tropics for its multiple benefits and pleasant taste. In America, it has recently become one of the newest health must have.

In this article, we explore coconut water benefits for health and how best to use this sweet nectar when juicing.

What’s in Coconut Juice?

Coconut juice contains nutrients such as: protein, vitamins C, B6, E and K, riboflavin, folate and calcium. Coconut juice is also a very good source of dietary fiber and has high concentrations of minerals including magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, iron and manganese. (source)

Plants have been used as traditional medicines for centuries. Natural phytochemicals found in plants have been scientifically proven to help with human illnesses and diseases. Coconut water contains cytokinins – phytohormones that might help in the fight against cancer. (source)

Let’s investigate the compounds found in coconut water, and analyse the scientific evidence to support the health benefits associated with this sweet juice.

Coconut Water Contains Antioxidants

Our bodies need antioxidants, they are our defence system against ‘free radicals’ that frequently attack our whole body. Free radical damage is the root cause of a variety of diseases.

Antioxidants are found in fruit and vegetables, not unexpectedly coconut water has them too. Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of coconut water showed “it was efficient in protecting against oxidative damages.” (source)

Coconut Water has Antimicrobial Properties

Drinking coconut water might be useful for combating bacterial infections. Coconut water has natural antimicrobial peptides proven to fight harmful bacteria. (source)

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is becoming common today and science is always looking for new ways to fight infections.

Coconut water has been analaysed and has been found to have antimicrobial properties. In a study looking at three different peptides in coconut water concluded:

“One was extremely efficient against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.” (source)

This type of research is still in early stages but concluded that the peptides in coconut water “show remarkable potential to development of novel antibiotics from natural sources.” (source)

Coconut Water Hydrates Your Body

Woman holding two half coconut in the water.

We get dehydrated when our body doesn’t have as much water as it needs. Our bodies are made up of nearly two thirds water. Without enough, it can’t function properly.

Sports-related dehydration can mean your muscles get tired quickly and you experience leg cramps while walking or running.

Coconut juice’s unique electrolyte and water composition is why it’s been used traditionally to rehydrate the body. As coconut water is a natural isotonic, coconut water has gained popularity with athletes and exercise enthusiasts who use it as a low sugar, natural post-workout drink.

Small trials have shown that coconut juice can be as beneficial in maintaining the body’s hydration and replenishing fluid after exercise as a traditional sport drink. In one particular study, coconut water was enhanced with sodium and performed even better. The study concluded that “ingesting sodium-enriched fresh young coconut water (SCW) was as good as ingesting a commercial sports drink for whole body rehydration after exercise-induced dehydration but with better fluid tolerance.” (source)

Coconut Juice Helps Lower Blood Pressure

Blood pressure can be directly affected by coconut juice. One study showed that coconut water plays an important role in reducing the blood pressure especially in the arteries. (source)

Coconut Juice Helps Lower Cholesterol

We all know high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Coconut water contains no fat or cholesterol, it can protect against heart disease and helps to increase HDL or “good cholesterol’ in the body. (sources 1, 2)

Coconut Juice may Help Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is caused by a loss of bone density. It’s estimated osteoporosis affects nearly 10 million Americans, and women account for around 80%. Half of women over 50 years will suffer a bone fracture or break due to bone loss. (source)

Women in east Asian countries rarely suffer menopausal symptoms like western women. Asian women’s practice of traditional medicine is believed to be the reason. A diet including coconut juice is traditional for menopausal women in Southeast Asia.

Coconut juice looks promising when it comes to improving bone health and minimizing bone loss which can occur in women after menopause. One study concluded:

“Young coconut juice supplementation has a positive effect on bone metabolism and thus represents a possible intervention to slow the bone loss observed following menopause.” (source)

Coconut Water May Help With Diabetes

A glass of coconut water with a half coconut and coconut shell pieces around it on a wooden table.

Several studies have looked into the antidiabetic potential of coconut water. One highlighted the L-arginine content and concluded:

“L-arginine is a major factor responsible for the antidiabetic and antithrombotic potential of coconut water.” (source)

Another study concluded coconut water helps to reduce blood sugar and prevent blood clots. (source)

Both these studies were on animals but evidence looks promising.

Coconut Juice Helps Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are quite common and can happen in one or both kidneys. They can be very painful and occur in both men and women, usually in middle age. Once you have had kidney stones, risk of recurrence is higher.

The waste products in the blood, namely calcium oxalate, sometimes form crystals that deposit in the kidneys. Over time, small calcium crystals can adhere together to form hard larger masses referred to as kidney stones.

Not drinking enough fluids makes your urine more concentrated and you need plenty of fluids to flush waste products out of your body.

Small kidney stones are usually passed when you urinate without your knowledge as they don’t cause any pain. However, sometimes they are larger and cause a blockage in your urinary system.

Coconut water helps stop kidney stones from forming and introducing coconut water into your diet could help.

Not only is coconut water a fluid that keeps you hydrated; It’s a natural diuretic (which increases urine production). Coconut water also aids the body to flush the kidneys removing built up amounts of calcium, phosphate and uric acid. (source)

Coconut Juice Precautions and Side Effects

Too much of anything can be bad for us, this is very true of coconut juice because of its high potassium content. (source)

To be safe drinking coconut juice should be avoided during pregnancy and for breastfeeding mothers.

Juicing With Coconuts

Fresh coconut water is always best, but not all of us live in the tropics (we wish!). We might be lucky and see young green coconuts occasionally at the supermarket.

If no fresh coconuts are available, next best is bottled coconut water easily found on the shelves of most supermarkets. Take care, you should only buy 100% coconut water, look for natural no additives or artificial ingredients.

Some coconut water has been processed, so try to find organic coconut water. With organic you know it’s been grown without chemicals.

Consume quickly as exposure to the air and heat deteriorates the quality. Actually coconut water rapidly ferments thus losing nutritional value.

Getting the juice out of a young green coconut requires a kitchen cleaver (or a sharp large knife). Find the bottom of the nut (the end with three lobes). Slice into each of the lobes towards the center, working your way round until you’ve removed all green shell on the bottom. Then slice across to expose the juice inside. Use straight away – it’s so delicious!

Recipes

Coconut juices in three half coconut, decorated elegantly, on red marble counter.

#1 Coconut Lemonade

Bring some tropical taste to your summer lemonade with this thirst quenching recipe. Coconut water helps keep you hydrated as the days get hotter.

  • 4 cups coconut water
  • 3 limes
  • 3 lemons
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 2 cups ice
  1. Wash all ingredients prior to using.
  2. Juice the lemon and limes.
  3. Add to the coconut water the lemon and lime juice.
  4. Stir well add ice and mint leaves and serve.

#2 Coconut and Melon Mix Up

A classic Indian combination, this is a pleasantly colored, refreshing drink with a balanced flavour. Not too sweet, a mellow and pleasing tasting juice.

  • 2 cups chilled chopped muskmelon (Cantaloupe)
  • 1 ¼ cups chilled coconut water
  1. Simply combine the coconut water and melon in a blender.
  2. Blend until a smooth consistency.
  3. Serve into glasses and drink immediately.

#3 The Coconut Hulk

Get the benefits from your green juice and the added hydrating benefit of coconut water.

  • 8 kale leaves
  • 4 green apples
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup of chilled coconut water
  • 12g fresh ginger (1”)
  1. Wash all ingredients prior to using.
  2. Peel the lime and ginger.
  3. Quarter and core the apples.
  4. Add kale, apples, ginger and lime to your juicer.
  5. Add the juice liquid to the coconut water and stir well
  6. Drink immediately, enjoy!

#4 Coco Rosey

The rose water scent is eastern and exotic. Mixed with the tropical coconut juice it’s a harmony for the taste buds.

  • 3 cups chilled coconut water
  • 1 ½ tablespoon rosewater
  • ¼ cup fresh blueberries
  1. Wash the blueberries prior to using.
  2. Mix blueberries, coconut water and rosewater in a blender.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Serve over ice and savour the flavor.

#5 Coco Sunset Number 5

A juice mix that’s bursting with vitamins and nutrition. All those exotic fruit tastes blended together – what’s not to like?

  • 1 ½ cups of chilled coconut water
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 2 cups of fresh pineapple chunks
  • 2 cups of fresh mango cubes
  • 3 large oranges
  1. Wash all ingredients prior to using
  2. Peel oranges and bananas.
  3. Feed the pineapples, mango, bananas and then oranges into your juicer or blender.
  4. Add the coconut water and stir well.
  5. Serve and drink immediately.

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