Coconut water really does deserve its popular reputation as Mother Nature's own sports drink, a new scientific analysis of the natural beverage reported at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
However, people who engage in strenuous exercise that involves a lot of sweat might want to take it all with a grain of salt ? literally ? or stick with a more traditional sports drink like Gatorade, said Chhandashri Bhattacharya, PhD, who presented a report on an analysis of coconut water to the ACS, the world's largest non-profit scientific society.
''Coconut water is a natural drink that has everything your average sports drink has and more,'' said Bhattacharya. ''It has five times more potassium than Gatorade or Powerade. Whenever you get cramps in your muscles, potassium will help you to get rid of the cramps. It's a healthy drink that replenishes the nutrients that your body has lost during a moderate workout.''
Bhattacharya said that the potassium in coconut water also may benefit other people who do not exercise. The typical American diet is low in potassium and high in sodium, which is found in table salt.
Other research has shown that such an imbalance is unhealthy. In one study, people who ate foods low in potassium and high in sodium had twice the risk of death from heart disease and a 50 percent higher risk of death from all causes. Other analyses indicate that a 12-ounce serving of coconut water has more potassium than a banana.
And it is high in healthful antioxidants, added Bhattacharya, who is with Indiana University Southeast in New Albany.