Washington: Coconut water is known as Mother Nature’s own sports drink.
An Indian origin scientist has now confirmed that the natural beverage really does deserve its popular reputation.
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, Ph.D, who conducted a new scientific analysis of coconut water.
“Coconut water is a natural drink that has everything your average sports drink has and more. It has five times more potassium than Gatorade or Powerade,” said Bhattacharya.
“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,” she stated.
Bhattacharya said that the potassium in coconut water also might 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.
Bhattacharya’s team analyzed coconut water, Gatorade and Powerade and found that coconut water contained up to 1,500 mg/litre of potassium, compared to up to 300 mg/litre for Powerade and Gatorade.
Coconut water, however, had 400 mg/litre of sodium compared to 600 for the other two drinks. It had comparable quantities of magnesium and carbohydrates as the other drinks.
Coconut water’s lower sodium content is where it fails as a good sports drink for people who engage in strenuous exercise that produces a lot of sweating, Bhattacharya said.
Sweating makes people lose more sodium than potassium, and coconut water alone can’t replace that lost sodium
She presented her finding at the 244th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society, which is meeting here this week.