Coconuts in general and specifically coconut water has shot to superfood trending fame in the last 5 years. It’s rare you’ll find a vending machine without a coconut water alternative to generic sports drinks or even pass a cooking essentials isle without noticing the now very strong presence of coconut oil alternatives to other frying oils. In fact, coconut has worked its way in to a number of different food groups even special teas, due to its incredible popularity.
For the sake of clarity, coconut water is the clear watery liquid extracted from green coconuts and is not to be confused with coconut milk & oil products which are taken from the flesh and milk of matured coconuts. When it comes to coconut water specifically, there are a number of benefits that set it apart from drinking simply straight forward water or reaching for the typical sports drinks you’ll find in your supermarket chiller.
High in Potassium – On average an equivalent amount of coconut water will contain as much as 10 times that found in your typical carbohydrate sports drink. Fresh coconut water by the glass will actually provide you more potassium than the average banana. That potassium will be hugely effective in helping keep muscle cramps at bay during extended exercise.
As well as being high in potassium, coconut water is low in sodium which you’ll often find as a high dose hydration method in your average sports drink. Balancing out the level of potassium vs sodium in the body has been shown to potentially reduce sodium’s adverse effect on blood pressure. Meaning that coconut water could in the long term provide an alternative to your usual drink and aid in lowering blood pressure.
Low in Calories – No one is going to pretend that coconut water can content with the zero-calorie content of your good old fashion zero calorie everyday water. But considering the extremely high calorie content of a carbohydrate drink, coconut water has very few calories while providing all its other benefits including its high sodium and potassium delivery.
Amino Acid Contents - Coconut water contains more alanine, arginine, cysteine, and serine than typical cows’ milk. A god send for vegans looking to naturally up their amino acid intake. While we won’t need to highlight the importance of amino acids to the modern day athlete in general, it is worth highlighting that arginine will help the body to cope with immense stress like lengthy training sessions as well as promote nitric oxide production to help vascular dilation and therefore promote more effective blood and oxygen transportation around the body.
Calcium & Magnesium – While it may not be heavily loaded with the two minerals, coconut water contains considerably more calcium and magnesium than other sports drinks which more than often won’t contain any at all. Calcium is often referred to most significantly for its role in keeping health dense bones but is actually also an important component in allowing for strong calculated muscle contractions. Not something any athlete is going to sniff at. Magnesium provides a similar support but also aids in muscle relaxation and like potassium can help resist the onset of endurance training muscle cramps.
All in all it’s safe to say that coconut water can play a pivotal role in an athletes nutritional arsenal particularly if it is considered as an alternative to off the shelf sports and carbohydrate drinks which are going to contain considerable additional calories and most of the nasty additives like colours, dyes and sweeteners most athletes would be doing their best to avoid.