Some have claimed that coconut water has antioxidant properties, can fight heart disease, and lower blood pressure. And while the fruit juice does have some nutrients, our experts say these claims are mostly hype and adding coconut water to your diet will mostly just add calories.
Coconut water does provide potassium
"There are some health benefits to drinking coconut water," Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, told INSIDER. "It's an all-natural way to hydrate and add potassium to diets."
Most Americans don't eat enough fruits, vegetables or dairy and as a result, aren't getting enough potassium.
"So coconut water can help fill in the nutritional gaps," said Dr. Peeke. "Beyond that, the scientific literature does not support the hype that it will help with a laundry list of diseases."
Joan Salge Blake, RDN, EdD, clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University and host of "Spot On!" health and wellness podcast, agreed, but would rather see people get those nutrients from fruits.
"It's not like we have to go out and get coconut water for our health or hydration because we have foods and water that will do that for us," Dr. Blake told INSIDER.
Coconut water can provide potassium, but for the same amount of calories, Dr. Blake said, you could eat a small banana and get even more potassium plus other nutrients not found in coconut water.
"You don't want coconut water displacing real fruit because you'll do better by eating whole pieces of fruit for the fiber, another deficit among Americans," said Dr. Blake. "There are other ways besides drinking coconut water that are cheaper and more efficient per gulp or bite to get potassium in your diet."
And if you're looking to hydrate, for most, water will do the trick better than coconut water.
"If you're working out for under an hour and not sweating profusely, you don't have to have a sweetened beverage to hydrate, just have plain water," said Dr. Blake. "[Approximately] 70% of Americans are overweight so there's not a lot of room for people to be gulping excess calories."
On the other hand, Dr. Blake said, if you are very active and can afford the calories, coconut water can be added as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Read the nutritional label before you treat yourself because some coconut water has added sugars.
"Make sure it says pure coconut water," said Dr. Blake. Many coconut water brands add sugar to their drinks, making them an unhealthy addition to your diet.
While studies have shown diets rich in plant polyphenols can protect against the development of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative diseases, Dr. Blake recommends getting those polyphenols from fruits like grapes, apples, pears, cherries, and berries, so you're not consuming extra calories and added sugars.
Just like potassium, it's better to get this antioxidant from fruits to also get the fiber and other nutrients coconut water is lacking.