8 min read

The benefits of coconut water: Crack into these fun facts!

Content Editor & Certified Trainer
Lisa studied journalism and is a certified fitness and health trainer, as well as a meditation coach! She spent many years working for different lifestyle and fitness magazines, and she writes articles for us on the topics of working out, fitness, lifestyle and mind.

Coconut water isn’t a new trend, but it’s stuck around for a reason. What is it about this so-called miracle water that people can’t get enough of? If you’re wondering what the benefits of coconut water are, what it contains, and if it can help you lose weight, you’ll find all the answers to your questions here.

What is coconut water?

Coconut water is a natural sports drink made entirely from coconut. The juice is extracted from the fruit while it’s still young and green, and it’s so pristine that it can be consumed straight away—better yet, on an island with a view of the ocean. 

We associate coconuts with island life in the first place because they’re the fruit of the coconut palm, a tree that grows mainly in tropical regions. The nuts are harvested before they’re totally ripe because that’s when they’re full of water. But coconut water isn’t all they’re good for — more mature fruit produces all the coconut meat, milk, and oil you see at the supermarket.  

When harvested before it’s ripe, a coconut can contain up to one liter of this sweet, refreshing liquid. In fact, many coconut-producing countries rely on coconut water as an alternative to water. It’s often consumed straight from the fruit and sold as a cool libation along the beach to parched tourists. In Europe and the UK, however, you’re more likely to find coconut water in a store than on a street corner. And when you do, you can’t be sure that it’s as pure as drinking straight from a freshly picked coconut. That’s why you should always double check the nutrition label to be sure it hasn’t been fortified with anything you’re trying to avoid. 

What’s the difference between coconut water and coconut milk?

While coconut water can be extracted and consumed directly from green, unripe fruit, coconut milk has to go through a process to arrive at the texture and taste we desire from it. Firstly, a coconut needs more time to mature before it can produce coconut milk. Ripe coconut flesh is then extracted, ground, grated, and mixed with water to obtain a thick mixture that’s rich in fat. After it’s had some time to soak, the coconut flesh is squeezed and the liquid left behind is rich and creamy unlike coconut water, which is transparent and watery. 

Coconut milk isn’t much of a thirst quencher and not exactly ideal for drinking on its own. With 230 calories and 24 grams of fat per 100 milliliters, it would be more of a small meal than a beverage if consumed alone. Instead, most people rely on it for cooking, and it’s a common ingredient in numerous, Asian and South Asian dishes. 

What nutrients does coconut water contain?

Coconut water is considered by many to be both a great sports drink and a miracle for the skin and body. But is it’s promise reflected in the nutrients it contains? We took the time to figure it out for you. 

The fact is that, unlike coconut milk, the fat and calorie content of coconut water is not significant. As it’s made up of more than 90% water, that’s not exactly surprising. Moreover, a commercially available drink contains only 10 to 25 calories per 100 milliliters (by comparison: milk contains 230 cal per 100g). Its sweet taste might suggest that it has a high sugar content, but this impression is misleading. Depending on the manufacturer, a commercially available coconut water will only contain between 1 to 5 grams of sugar. In general, the less processed coconut water is, the better it’ll taste and be for you. 

There is one minor caveat, though: It contains less than 1 percent protein, so it’s not the only thing you should consume to recover post workout. Many athletes rehydrate with coconut water and use other products to ensure they’re meeting their daily protein requirements. 

Our tip: Our CocoWhey coconut water combines all the benefits of coconut water with an extra portion of protein. It’s a great way to get what you need to achieve your fitness goals. 

Despite being low in macronutrients, coconut water is rich in micronutrients like minerals and trace elements. Unripe coconut juice is packed with electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as iron, iodine, and zinc. All of these nutrients help regulate metabolism and balance hormonal levels. As if that weren’t enough, coconut water is also full of vitamins, especially B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9), vitamin C, and folic acid.

In the table below, we break down exactly what’s every 100 ml of unprocessed coconut water: 

Fresh coconut water (per 100ml) :

Calories 10 
Fat 0.4g
Carbohydrates 1.4g
Protein 0.3g
Fiber 0.0g
Saturated fat 0.3g
Unsaturated fat 0.1g
Sodium 0,2g
Sugar 1.3g
Water 97.3g

Once again, it’s important to remember that these values will vary depending on the manufacturer. The products you buy at the supermarket or on the Internet can contain many different ingredients, and may often be richer in carbs, fats, and sugar than they should be. If you’re not sure, use our table as a resource to make the right decision for you. 

How healthy is coconut water?

In areas where coconut trees grow locally, many people drink coconut water as an alternative to water when they’re thirsty, which isn’t surprising seeing as it’s more than 90 percent water. But now, even outside of these tropical regions, more and more people are swearing by this so-called miracle liquid for its countless health benefits. Some of coconut water’s purported benefits include the following: 

  • Maintenance and restoration of fluid balance
  • Prevention of the development of acidosis
  • Prevention of hypertension
  • Stimulation of the metabolism
  • Detoxification of the body
  • Promotion of cell renewal

But what are the facts? What does the research say about whether or not these health benefits are real?

Coconut water is isotonic

An isotonic drink is one that has similar concentrations of sugar and salt as the body, and it can help replace nutrients you lose by sweating. The vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and trace elements coconut water contains are more readily absorbed by the cells and intestines, and they can immediately make your stomach feel less heavy and make you feel more energized. 

Coconut water’s rehydrating properties aren’t only appreciated by athletes. Anyone can drink it to relieve dehydration or overheating, and even alleviate pain in cases of diarrheal diseases. 

Coconut water is alkaline

In addition to being isotonic, coconut water is also alkaline, which means that it can be useful for restoring the acid-base balance in the body. Not consuming enough alkaline-rich foods and beverages puts you at risk of developing acidosis, which is an increased acidity in the blood that can cause numerous ailments and chronic diseases including eczema, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, sleep disorders, heart rhythm disorders, allergies, and even cancer. Coconut water can help prevent all of the above by regularly providing your body with alkaline minerals like potassium, which is responsible for the storing and distributing fluids within the body. Potassium can also help lower blood pressure. 

Coconut water’s benefits for metabolism and digestion

A lot of people assume coconut water will have a positive influence on the metabolic process because of how nutrient dense it is. It’s purported to remove toxic substances from the digestive tract and “cleanse” you from the inside out because it contains sulfuric amino acids that may absorb toxic mercury. However, we won’t know whether or not that’s true until there’s sufficient data to support it. To date, drinking coconut water has no known negative side effects on the metabolism and digestion. 

The benefits of coconut water for skin and hair

It’s not uncommon for our skin or hair to struggle because we’re not getting enough minerals or vitamins. Given the fact that coconut water contains many hair- and skin-friendly nutrients, there’s no doubt that the sports drink can also be a solution to these woes. Once again, though, there aren’t a lot of studies on the benefits of coconut water for hair and skin, but there are no known negative side-effects, so there’s no harm in at least trying.

To wrap it up, coconut water is an ideal pre- or post-workout drink. 

With its isotonic and alkaline properties alone (not to mention its electrolytes!), the craze for this miraculous tropical drink is definitely understandable. In particular, the amount of essential minerals it has is a real boon. Both athletes and casual gym-goers can enjoy it with peace of mind as long as they take care to double check that what they’re buying doesn’t contain any additives that they’d rather not consume. The fewer extra stuff, the better! Remember, coconut water alone isn’t enough to supply you with the protein you need post-workout, so be sure to supplement what you need as necessary. 

Does coconut water promote weight loss?

Because coconut water is low in fat and sugar, many people think of it as a good beverage option for weight loss. The fact that it has way less sugar and just as many electrolytes as other popular sweetened beverages, like lemonade and many sports drinks, is reason enough to consider adding it to your routine. That’s not to say that drinking coconut water will magically make you lose weight all by itself though. There are 200 calories in a liter, so it’s still best to consume it in moderation, balancing your coconut water with water and tea to stay fully hydrated. On the other hand, when you’re craving something sweet, coconut water is the perfect way to get something sugary without all the sugar. 

How much coconut water should I drink every day?

Coconut water is an excellent source of minerals, and a serving a day is more than enough to get you what you need. If you feel you may be deficient in certain minerals, it’s recommended to consume 300 to 500 milliliters a day, though it’s important to check in with a medical professional to see what’s right for you. 

three coconut halves, one with a pair of diagonally-striped paper straws stuck into it to drink the coconut water
©Yuliia Mazurkevych FOAP

Coconut water recipes

Coconut water’s subtle sweetness makes it the ideal ingredient for everything from refreshing summer beverages to warm and filling curry dishes. Tropical fruits like mango or papaya complement it’s fresh, island vibes particularly well, and it’s a match made in heaven with proteins like fish, shellfish, and tofu. 

Our favorite recipe: Chia Seeds, mango and coconut water are all you need to make a delicious chia-coconut-mango drink in no time at all.

A glass of chia-coconut mango drink will give your body the full benefits of coconut water
©foodspring

Is your mouth watering? Here are three other easy coconut water recipes to quench your thirst:

Coconut-mint drink

  • Ingredients: 250ml coconut water, 1 lemon, fresh mint leaves, crushed ice(optional
  • Squeeze lemon and combine juice with coconut water.
  • Add fresh mint leaves to drink and mix together.
  • Add crushed ice to taste.

Coconut water energy oatmeal

  • Ingredients: 50g old fashioned oats, 1tbsp flaxseed, 200ml coconut water, 1tbsp chopped nuts, ½ tsp cinnamon, 20g dried cranberries, ½ apple or mango, coconut chips
  • Combine oats, flaxseed, and coconut water in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Let cool a little, then stir in cinnamon, nuts, and cranberries.
  • Grate apple or puree half a mango and add it to the porridge with coconut chips.

Mango-coconut curry

  • Ingredients: vegetable of your choice (e.g. 2 peppers, 2 bok choy or ½ cauliflower), 2-3 green onions, 1 mango, 1-2 tbsp. Thai curry paste, 250ml coconut water, 250ml coconut milk, 1 1-inch piece of ginger, juice of 1 lime, 1 clove of garlic, 1 stalk of lemongrass, a little honey, salt and pepper, cold-pressed organic coconut oil
  • Cut vegetables and mango into small pieces.
  • Sauté green onions, garlic, and ginger in a little coconut oil.
  • As soon as the ingredients have softened, add vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir in mango and simmer over low heat.
  • After 5 to 10 minutes, add coconut water and milk, curry paste, and lemongrass.
  • Cook for another 20 minutes and season with honey, salt, and pepper.
  • Garnish with lime juice and serve.

The benefits of coconut water: our conclusion

  • Coconut water is particularly rich in essential minerals, trace elements, and electrolytes, making it an ideal sports drink.
  • Juice from green, unripe coconuts is low in calories and sugar and an excellent alternative to other sweetened sports drinks.
  • Thanks to its alkaline and isotonic properties, coconut water can help restore the balance of fluids and minerals in the body, especially after a workout or in the event of dehydration due to diarrheal disease, for example.
  • It doesn’t have a lot of macronutrients and protein, so it’s important to consume it along with other foods.
  • Coconut water can complement a balanced diet, but it can’t replace it.
Article sources
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Ismail, I.; Sirisinghe, R.; Singh, R. (2007): Rehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration, in: The Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health, 38(4), S. 769-85.