Coconut Water Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Coconut water annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Coconut water is the liquid that pours out when you crack open a coconut. Older coconuts (the ones that are brown and hairy) generally provide better coconut milk, which is made from the flesh of the coconut. Younger, green coconuts produce better coconut water. This beverage has a salty-sweet taste that can be divisive, but it does provide fewer calories than most fruit juices, along with vitamin C plus carbs and electrolytes that can be helpful for recovery after exercise.

Coconut Water Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (240g) of 100% coconut water.

  • Calories: 44
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 64mg
  • Carbohydrates: 10.4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 9.6g
  • Protein: 0.5g

Carbs

A one-cup serving of coconut water provides about 10 grams of carbohydrate. 100% coconut water contains about 9 grams of naturally occurring sugar. Some brands of coconut water are sweetened with added sugars, so check labels carefully.

Fats

There is usually little to no fat (less than 1 gram) in coconut water, but some brands may contain a small amount of fat.

Protein

Coconut water contains a small amount of protein; the amount can vary by brand.

Vitamins and Minerals

Coconut water is an excellent source of vitamin C, with 24mg per one-cup serving. That's 32% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for women and 27% for men. It also contains the B vitamin thiamin (about 8% of RDA).

Minerals in coconut water include potassium (404mg or 16% of adequate intake for women and 12% for men), manganese (0.5mg or 28% of adequate intake for women and 22% for men). The drink also provides smaller amounts of magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and copper.

Health Benefits

Throughout the years, claims have surfaced about the many health benefits of coconut water, but most have been debunked. Social media posts circulating globally declared that drinking hot coconut water cures cancer, but the American Institute for Cancer Research publishes a trademarked list of Foods That Fight Cancer, which does not list coconut. A lawsuit settled in 2011 required one coconut water producer to stop making inflated claims about their product's health powers.

While animal studies have shown that coconut water may provide benefits such as improved blood sugar levels, kidney stone prevention, and lowered cholesterol, these have not been adequately studied in humans. One small study in humans, however, did show a reduction in blood pressure with increased coconut water consumption.

Some coconut water fans like it as a sports drink. It provides electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) and carbohydrates to help improve muscle function, with fewer calories than a typical sports drink, and is gluten-free.

However, you can get the same benefits from consuming whole foods, like a banana, with water. Whole foods have no hidden ingredients (like added sugar) and are generally cheaper than sports drinks or recovery bars.

Allergies

Coconut is not a tree nut, and most people who are allergic to tree nuts can still consume coconut. Still, there are some cases of coconut allergy. If you are allergic to coconuts, you need to avoid coconut water, coconut milk, and other products made with coconut in addition to the coconut flesh itself.

Adverse Effects

Although potassium is an essential mineral, consuming too much of it can lead to hyperkalemia (an overabundance of potassium in the blood). Since coconut water contains potassium, drinking large quantities could cause this issue. This is unlikely to happen for most people, but those who have chronic kidney disease or take medications, including ACE inhibitors, should be cautious.

Coconut water is also high in FODMAPs, a group of carbohydrates that can cause or worsen digestive symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Varieties

You'll see lots of brands and options for coconut water on store shelves including sweetened and unsweetened products along with blends that mix coconut water with other fruit juices. Some brands of coconut water also contain coconut flesh (which can mean they are higher in calories and fat). Read labels carefully if you want to avoid extra sweeteners or ingredients.

Storage and Food Safety

If you get coconut water straight from the fruit, it should be refrigerated right away. Fresh coconut water can also be frozen.

Likewise, once you open a container of coconut water, manufacturers usually recommend that you refrigerate it. Most people prefer the taste of cold coconut water. Keeping it chilled will help the drink stay fresh for 24 to 48 hours.

Some brands of coconut water use a pasteurization process so that the product is shelf-stable. That means you don't need to refrigerate the product after you buy it. As long as the package is not open, it should stay fresh for up to 12 months.

How to Prepare

There are many creative ways to use coconut water. You can use coconut water in smoothies, cocktails, or even frozen fruit pops. Because coconut water is hydrating, some people use it to help buffer the effects of a hangover. While there is no scientific data to back up the practice, drinking non-alcoholic and hydrating fluids of any kind is likely to provide a benefit after you've had too much to drink.

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Article Sources
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