Benefits of coconut water cited in study

by Keith Nunes
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PHILADELPHIA — The benefits of coconut water as a sports beverage consumed by people participating in “light exercise” were outlined in a study presented at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting and exposition, taking place in Philadelphia this week. But people who engage in strenuous exercise that involves a lot of sweat may want to opt for a more traditional sports drink like Gatorade.

Chhandashri Bhattacharya, a researcher with Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, and her team analyzed coconut water, Gatorade and Powerade and found coconut water contained up to 1,500 mg/liter of potassium, compared to up to 300 mg/liter for Powerade and Gatorade. Coconut water, however, had 400 mg/liter of sodium compared to 600 for the other two drinks. It had comparable quantities of magnesium and carbohydrates as the other drinks.

“Coconut water is a natural drink that has everything your average sports drink has and more,” Dr. Bhattacharya said. “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.”

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, Dr. Bhattacharya said. Sweating makes people lose more sodium than potassium, and coconut water alone can’t replace the lost sodium.

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