“Is coconut water even a thing?”
—Parker W., California State University, Chico
If you search online for the benefits of coconut water, you’ll get a list of claims that make it sound like a magical drink. They might claim that it cures hangovers, helps with weight loss, is nutrient-rich, or boosts hydration. When you dig a little deeper, however, you can find out what’s really known about coconut water.
What is coconut water?
Coconut water is a clear liquid that comes from young, green coconuts. It is lower in calories and sodium, and higher in potassium, than sports drinks, and doesn’t contain extra calories from sugar.
Does that make it a better drink?
Coconut water replaced body fluids lost during exercise about as much as a typical sports drink or drinking water did, according to a 2007 study in Malaysia. So, it could be used to rehydrate after exercise, but so can water or sports drinks, which may cost less and taste better.
For those who prefer a strenuous workout, coconut water has insufficient carbohydrates and electrolytes to support intense physical activity. A better way to fuel your body is with a high-carbohydrate food, such as a bagel, and plenty of water during your workout.
What about the other claims?
No major studies link coconut water to cancer prevention or hangover cures, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Those looking for a healthy beverage choice might enjoy coconut water, which contains some nutrients and is high in potassium and Vitamin C. It is slightly high in sodium, however, so if you drink coconut water often, watch your sodium intake from other sources.
Here’s the bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. To maintain your health, a good start is to be physically active, eat well, and get enough sleep. These wellness activities will go a long way toward keeping you healthy in college and beyond.
Karen Moses, director of wellness and health promotion at Arizona State University in Phoenix.