Refreshing, tasty and low in calories, coconut water is the go-to drink for many health and fitness junkies. But is it actually good for health? We find out from the experts if the delicious beverage is merely a well-designed marketing ploy or really a miracle cure:
Belinda Kirkpatrick, Naturopath
"Coconut water has become very fashionable recently but it's actually been used to rehydration and health in tropical regions around the world for centuries. Coconut water isn't the same as coconut milk, which is made by mixing coconut water and coconut meat, and then pressed to give the milk. The water has a very light consistency and contains energy-producing and stress-reducing B-group vitamins and minerals."
Susie Burrell, Weight-Loss Expert
"Of all the foods that have created hype over the past few years coconut water is high up on the list. From a nutritional perceptive, it does contain fewer kilojoules than both sports drinks and fruit juices, with relatively high amounts of the mineral salt, potassium."
Dr Claudia Lee, General Practitioner
"Coconut water is actually a healthy natural drink and a good source of hydration. In its natural form, it's low in sugar and kilojoules (less than half of fruit juices and soft drinks), low in fat, and has a balance of electrolytes similar to our blood plasma, which means it's easily absorbed."
This article was originally published in Singapore Women's Weekly.
Unlike plain water, coconut water is not entirely calorie-free, but at 42 calories per serving (240 grams) it's still a pretty low-calorie drink. This makes it an awesome replacement for any one of your regular, sugar-sweetened drinks and when used like this, coconut water can help you reach your weight loss goals.
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Coconut water contains a variety of trace elements such as zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, manganese, boron, molybdenum that act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants protect the body from damage by toxins, keeping you young and vibrant. It's also high in vitamin C, which helps to boost the immune system, heal wounds and protect the skin from damage.
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For those with acne or other blemishes on the surface of the skin, topical application of coconut water can go a great distance as it has the ability to clear up and subsequently tone the skin. It also moisturizes the skin from within if ingested orally and eliminates large amounts of excessive oil.
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Coconut water benefits those suffering from stress and may reduce panic attacks and anxiety. That's because it contains GABA, a neurotransmitter that has a relaxing, anti-anxiety, and anti-convulsive effect on the body.
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Coconut water improves digestion, and may normalise bowel movements due to its high fibre content. This high concentration of fibre aids in the prevention of indigestion and reduces the occurrence of acid reflux helping you answer nature's call and provide relief at times when digestive issues are bringing you down.
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Coconut water helps regulate fluid levels in the body and may prevent edema and the occurrence of water weight. In its natural form, it is a thirst quenching and nutrient-dense beverage. It is highly concentrated with five electrolytes that are known to support rapid hydration: sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
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Need to keep the midnight oil burning but just too tired? Gulp down some coconut water. It will quickly improve energy reserves by flooding the body with easy-to-access nutrients including glucose. Coconut water also increases oxygen in the body tissues, therefore improving your body's performance.
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Coconut water has a unique chemical composition of sugars, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and cytokines – which have shown anti-aging and anti-cancer effects in research studies. But further research in this area is needed before it can be touted as a medical miracle.
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Coconut water contains natural anti-microbial peptides that can be effective in fighting bacteria such as E.coli, B. subtilis, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa. E. coli is a multi-drug-resistant bacterium and universal inhabitant of human digestive tract. S. aureus and B. subtilis cause food spoilage and poisoning. P. aeruginosa< is a potential human pathogen found inhabiting milk products, vegetables and meat.
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Coconut water contains a lot of antioxidants, which help prevent the damage to our bodies caused by free radicals. Free radicals are produced by your own metabolism, so there's no other way to neutralise the damage, except making sure you consume enough antioxidants in your diet.
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