Diabetes: Is coconut water safe for people with diabetes?
Coconut water is rich in electrolytes and contains lots of minerals and vitamins. This clear liquid is obtained from unripe green coconuts and is a good source of hydration. Due to this, it has gained popularity as a sports drink and is used by patients with high blood pressure and dehydration. The high mineral content of coconut water provides various health benefits. Its high vitamin and mineral content makes it a good beverage for people with diabetes.
Sugar content in coconut water
Is coconut water good for diabetes? The answer to it isn’t as simple; fresh coconut water extracted from unripe coconuts has low sugar content. But the sweetened coconut water that we might find in the market contains a large amount of sugar. Manufacturers add artificial sugars and preservatives to sweetened coconut water, decreasing its health benefits.
The following table compares the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in 240 ml of sweetened and fresh coconut water:
|Unsweetened Coconut water||Sweetened Coconut Water|
|Sugar||9.5 grams||18 grams|
|Carbohydrates||10.5 grams||22.5 grams|
Sweetened coconut water contains double the amount of sugar and carbohydrates compared to fresh/ unsweetened coconut water.
Glycemic index of coconut water
The Glycemic index is used to determine whether the food is safe for diabetics or not. The glycemic index of coconut water is 54, which is considered low. Hence coconut water does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels and is safe for diabetics.
Additional benefits of coconut water for diabetics
To find the answer to “is coconut water good for diabetes” let’s first learn about the benefits of coconut water for diabetics.
- Maintains electrolyte balance: Diabetes makes our body more prone to electrolyte imbalance. Overhydration and dehydration due to metabolic imbalance cause kidney problems. Magnesium in coconut water increases the insulin sensitivity of cells, while Sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc help restore the body’s electrolyte balance.
- Improves blood circulation: People with diabetes often face problems like narrowing of the blood vessels and increased cholesterol levels. These changes cause increased plaque formation in blood vessels, which then leads to poor circulation causing damage to the nerves and muscles. Daily consumption of coconut water improves blood circulation as magnesium and Sodium in it dilate the blood vessels. Potassium in coconut water improves nerve functions and prevents nerve damage.
- Helps in Weight Loss: Coconut water improves digestion and boosts metabolism. It also helps to break down fat cells to extract energy, which aids in weight loss in patients with diabetes. This also releases pressure on the pancreas by burning excessive fat and increases insulin sensitivity.
- Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases: Increased blood glucose levels in diabetes increase cardiovascular disease risk. Daily intake of coconut water increases nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels, increasing blood circulation and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Rich source of antioxidants: High blood sugar levels in people with diabetes increases the number of free radicals in the body that are not good for health. This can be prevented by coconut water, a rich source of antioxidants. These antioxidants reduce the damage caused by free radicals.
How much coconut water can I consume?
Knowing the multiple benefits of coconut water, we might be urged to drink excessive coconut water. But the sugar and carbohydrates in it should not be neglected. These can cause a considerable increase in blood sugar levels in diabetics if consumed excessively.
Diabetic people should consume coconut water in moderation and stick to one glass of coconut water a day. It must be consumed during the daytime, empty stomach, or after exercise. The lauric acid present in it will kickstart the metabolism and keep us energized throughout the day.
In addition, we should always avoid using sweetened coconut water and choose unripe green coconut as they contain less sugar.
Now, as we know, the answer to “Is coconut water good for diabetes” we should also be aware of when it should not be consumed.
- Patients with cystic fibrosis need to replenish their bodies’ Sodium. They must avoid coconut water as it contains very low Sodium and can lower the number of salts in their body.
- People with low blood pressure should avoid coconut water.
- A high amount of potassium in coconut water increases the kidney’s burden. Hence, it should be avoided by patients having kidney problems.
- Excessive consumption of coconut water can also cause bloating in some cases.
Coconut water has multiple health benefits and can be helpful in diabetes if consumed in moderation. It can help control blood sugar levels and prevent damage to other organs. Always consume fresh coconut water and avoid bottled one as it contains artificial sugar and preservatives. Coconut water should not be consumed in case you have low blood pressure, kidney disease, or cystic fibrosis. Consult your healthcare professional before making any diet changes or knowing about the precautions.