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Enhance workouts and speed recovery with this tasty tropical drink

Enhance workouts and speed recovery with this tasty tropical drink

When choosing a thirst-quenching summer beverage, more and more people opt for coconut water.  Whether you're feeling mildly parched, seriously thirsty, or downright "desert-dry" after strenuous exercise, this drink seems to check all the boxes.

The coconut's fruit and fluid have been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries to treat ailments such as fever, headache, and indigestion.  Now, recent research shows that coconut water has evidence-based abilities to promote overall health and help ward off chronic degenerative conditions to boot.  Let's look at some of the surprising "gifts" conveyed by coconut water - and learn why many consider this refreshing liquid a true superfood.

Promote coronary health with coconut water

Coconut water has all the "right stuff" to support heart health.  It contains potent antioxidants - such as globulin, shikimic acid, and glutelin-2 - that can help scavenge the harmful free radicals that contribute to heart disease (currently the leading cause of death for American adults). 

At over 500 mg of potassium per eight-ounce serving, coconut water is a good source of this essential mineral, which helps to regulate blood pressure.  Preliminary research on animals has shown that coconut water can also lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One study showed that coconut water works as well as a prescription statin drug to lower cholesterol in animals fed a high-fat diet!  And coconut water achieved this without toxic side effects. 

By the way, coconut water is also believed to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.  Scientists attribute this beneficial effect to its content of magnesium, which can increase insulin sensitivity.  Of course, don't use coconut water to treat diabetes, or any other condition, without talking to your trusted integrative healthcare provider first.

Restorative coconut water helps you come back strong after workouts

Whoever named "coconut water" wasn't kidding - this refreshing natural drink is 94 percent water, making it a valuable ally in staying well-hydrated and a good choice for a post-workout drink.  As a general guideline, experts say you should try to drink 20 ounces of hydrating fluid - whether coconut water, sports drinks, or plain water - for every pound of weight lost during exercise.

At a mere 60 calories a cup, coconut water is keto-friendly, fat- and gluten-free, and contains healthy amounts of electrolyte minerals - such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium - to help maintain fluid balance.  The essential minerals manganese and zinc contribute immune system-boosting benefits as well.  For good measure, coconut water delivers antioxidant vitamin C, another immune system booster.  Due to this combination of restorative nutrients, coconut water seems tailor-made to support a weight loss journey and promote effective workouts.

Prevent kidney stones with coconut water

Coconut water may also inhibit the formation of kidney stones, which affect about 10 percent of men and 6 percent of women in the United States.  These painful deposits can be caused by calcium, oxalates, and other compounds that produce crystals in the urine.  Coconut water is believed to help inhibit the buildup of these unwanted compounds by promoting hydration and flushing waste from the body.  One small but intriguing study published in 2018 in Biomed Treatment International suggested that drinking two liters of coconut water a day increased the removal of excess amounts of potassium, chloride, and urea in the urine of people who had not been diagnosed with kidney stones.  The takeaway: if you don't have kidney stones, coconut water may help you steer clear of them! 

Versatile coconut water blends well with other ingredients

With its sweet, distinctive taste, coconut water adds an opulent, tropical note to recipes.  You can whip up the perfect summer smoothie by blending it with pineapple, papaya, bananas, and mangoes.  Coconut water also pairs beautifully with honeydew melons, cantaloupe, and dates.  You can also add it to sparkling water.  Or, use it to enrich salad dressings, curries, cold summer soups, and marinades.

Incidentally, coconut water - the clear liquid inside young, green coconuts - is not to be confused with coconut milk.  The latter, a blend of coconut water and grated coconut, is much higher in calories and fat.

Coconut water is generally considered safe when consumed in moderate amounts.  However, if you have kidney disease or diabetes, check with your integrative doctor or dietitian before adding coconut water to your diet.  According to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, coconut water is so effective at lowering blood pressure that you should avoid drinking it two weeks before surgery.

Look for high-quality, organic coconut water with no added sodium, sugar or preservatives for maximum benefit.

In a recent review published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the impressed authors praised coconut water as an "excellent … drink" with "superb hydrating qualities."  And it seems the buzz around coconut water will continue to build.  Packed with antioxidants and micronutrients, coconut water is clearly a wise addition to a healthy diet.

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