The hidden, clear juice of the coconut is aptly revered as the "fluid of life". Inside the hard, green shell, this elixir is an ideal beverage for the body and spirit. Read more to learn about the electrolyte content of coconut juice and how it benefits your body.
The human body is maintained by biochemical reactions, occurring in tandem. There are a large amount of nutrients and minerals present in the cells and blood, that take part in these chemical reactions. Among these are electrolytes, chemicals whose interactions help in maintaining the fluid balance in the body. The chemical formula and properties of electrolytes encourage them to react with each other, causing impulses that are necessary for the body’s functioning. Above all, a balance in electrolyte quantity is necessary. Too much or too little of one electrolyte can cause a dysfunction in body functions. For example too much of potassium can cause your heart to malfunction. Athletes and those who sweat a lot, through work, exercise or environment need to maintain their electrolyte levels, as the body loses electrolytes through sweat and exertion.
Here’s a list of which electrolytes are needed by the body and their functions:
- Sodium – helps with normal nerve functioning and blood pressure regulation
- Potassium – maintains a balance in body fluids, aids any healing process, facilitates any biochemical conversions (glycogen from glucose)
- Calcium – good for growth and development of strong, solid bones, helps with pre-menstrual moods, necessary for a healthy heart
- Magnesium – aids the body in absorbing calcium, forms healthy and strong teeth and bones, aids with heart functioning and blood pressure, necessary for muscle functioning
- Chloride – necessary for body fluid balance and cell osmosis, maintains acid levels in the body, aids in digestion
Drinking Coconut Water for Electrolytes
It’s easy to realize that most of the major functions and acts of the human body require electrolytes. And unlike vitamins, there are few sources that can provide the right amount and the right electrolytes. Water is by far the best. Fruit juice also provides the right electrolytes in a more flavorful and tastier package, provided you avoid the heavily sweetened versions and those with a lot of artificial flavorings. If you dislike the thick, pulpy taste of most fruit juices, then a natural, lighter juice for you is coconut water. This is a clear, thin liquid found in tender, green coconuts. No sugar is added, it has a unique fresh and sweet taste on its own. It has no odor as well, but a mild refreshing scent. Indeed coconut water can revitalize you in minutes, equivalent to a cool plunge in a pool. It has a rare point to its refreshing ability, ice-cold and chilled or at room temperature, its taste is not compromised by its temperature.
However there is more to coconut water, than just great taste. Below are some of the benefits of drinking coconut water:
- There are a lot of electrolytes in coconut water, especially potassium. A cup of coconut water has twice the potassium content of a banana.
- Coconut water has roughly the same electrolyte make-up as blood, making it an ideal electrolyte replenishment choice. It is ideal for athletes, who need to quickly make up loss of electrolytes and avoid dehydration.
- Coconut water is also touted as a natural hangover remedy, for alcohol decreases water levels in the body. So coconut water can quickly make up for the lost water content.
- Its clear and light liquid form makes it easily digestible and it does not leave a heavy or obvious taste in the mouth. It has a decent fiber and protein content. Some vitamins like Vitamin C, niacin and folates are present.
- No cholesterol, no fats, no sugars. It is an all natural, caffeine free, soda free drink. Coconut is also low in calories, making it a good fruit juice choice for weight-watchers. But sweetened coconut water may have added calories, so read the ingredients of packaged or frozen coconut water.
- Cure for diarrhea and stomach upsets, helps with kidney stones, these are some health issues, solved by drinking this water. However, such claims are based on inconclusive research and tests, so do not follow hype and expect “miracles” from drinking coconut water.
Natural Electrolytes in Coconut Water
Coconut water is heavily advertised as a natural sports drink, due to its electrolyte levels. To see the real difference between the amount of electrolytes in coconut water and that present in sport or electrolyte drinks, below is a tabular comparison of coconut water and Gatorade sports drink:
|Coconut water (240 g serving)||252 mg||600 mg||60 mg||0.7 mg||57.6 mg||228 g|
|GATORADE (244 g serving)||95.2 mg||36.6 mg||None||0.1 mg||2.4 mg||228 g|
For very intensive and continuous training or exertion, the electrolytes in coconut water are not sufficient. The low protein content is also insufficient for muscle and tissue recovery. Hence supplements in the form of sport drinks or mixes are recommended. However for normal workouts, with a fixed duration, coconut water is extremely adequate. Do not confuse coconut water with coconut milk. Coconut milk is creamy in texture and pure white in color. As the coconut ripens, the water mixes with the meat or flesh to form a “milk”. coconut water produces that sloshing sound from within a coconut, when it is shaken. Green, unripened and tender coconuts have juice, while brown, ripe coconuts have milk.