– Performance Spine and Sports

Benefits of Coconut Water

By Gary Fuschini, PTA

The clear liquid found on the inside of immature, green coconuts is known as coconut water. It has a mildly sweet, nutty flavor and is contained in coconuts which are between 5-7 months of age. Coconut water should not be confused with coconut milk, which is extracted from the meat of the mature coconut.

Consumption of coconut water has become very popular especially among those who exercise. Containing many vitamins, minerals and nutrients, the purported health benefits are numerous. These include use as a hydrating agent with regard to exercise, hangover or diarrhea, regulation of blood pressure, prevention of stroke and heart disease and as an anti-aging supplement.

Is coconut water superior to a sport drink for hydration? Conventional sports drinks are used to replenish electrolytes lost during intense physical exertion. While it is true that we lose electrolytes through sweat, it actually takes workouts of 60 minutes or more to seriously deplete our bodies’ stores. Furthermore, the main electrolyte lost is sodium. Sports drinks also provide carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars which are burned off when we exercise.

Coconut water provides less sodium and sugar than most sports drinks. So in that respect it is not superior. It does contain fewer calories, more potassium and no artificial ingredients. Keep in mind that replenishment of electrolytes should not be necessary unless exercise isat a high intensity for greater than 60 minutes. In most cases, drinking water will be the best way to hydrate.

Bottom line is that sports drinks are often unnecessary, with water being preferred. Coconut water is an all-natural alternative for those who dislike water alone but is not the best choice for the serious athlete who requires electrolyte replacement due to prolonged, intense exercise.

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About Gary Fuschini

Gary is a 1999 graduate of the Physical Therapist Assistant program at Mercer County College. He has worked in rehabilitation at area hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and outpatient clinics and has performed community spinal and balance screenings at the Center for Health and Wellness. An avid practitioner of yoga, Gary integrates these principles into his practice. He has experience as a personal trainer as a member of The American Council on Exercise and has helped patients across the life span from pediatric to geriatric.

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