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Is Coconut Water Good for Diabetes? Benefits of the Natural Beverage
Diabetes

Is Coconut Water Good for Diabetes? Benefits of the Natural Beverage

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 12
79 Views
6 min

Coconut water contains natural sugar, leading many to wonder if the beverage can fit safely into a diabetes diet plan. Here we discuss the nutrition facts, glycemic index, sugar content, and 5 health benefits of drinking coconut water for people with diabetes.

is coconut water good for diabetes

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Coconut water is a nutritious, electrolyte-rich drink that comes primarily from young coconuts. It occurs naturally in the fruit before solidifying and transforming into white coconut meat as the coconut ages. The natural liquid contains 94% water and has very few calories.

As coconut water contains natural sugar, it raises the question of whether it suits people with diabetes. The sugar content can vary among brands, especially between sweetened and unsweetened coconut water. Many manufacturers add artificial sweeteners and sugar to enhance the water’s sweet taste.

So, while coconut water ticks many boxes– is it a good match for people with diabetes? Keep reading as we identify the effects of coconut water on blood sugar levels.

Is Coconut Water Good for Diabetes?

Yes, coconut water can benefit people with diabetes if consumed in moderation. Although coconut water has a sweet flavor due to its naturally existing sugars, drinking it does not affect blood sugar levels like sugary drinks and other fruit juices.

Drinking coconut water may have positive effects on people with diabetes. It has a low glycemic index and therefore doesn’t cause a rapid spike in blood glucose levels.

It contains essential amino acids which may support glucose management and prevent health complications associated with diabetes.

It is also a low-calorie drink that can help maintain healthy body weight and aid in metabolic functioning – a bonus for people with diabetes who often experience unusual weight gain.

While coconut water may help manage blood sugar levels, it is important to choose the unsweetened variety over sugar-sweetened coconut water to prevent diabetes complications. Most packaged coconut water is high in sugar, while tender coconut water from young, green coconuts has less sugar.

For greater control of your diabetes, try the Klinio app. It provides a custom meal plan and regular monitoring to track your calorie intake, blood sugar levels, and macronutrients so you never lose control over your condition.

In addition to regulating blood glucose, Klinio caters to other health conditions, including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Coconut Water Nutritional Value

Coconut water is a delightful beverage packed with vital nutrients that support overall health and aid in diabetes management. You can consume coconut water on an empty stomach or with a meal to incorporate the vitamins and minerals into your diet.

Below is the nutritional content of coconut water per 240ml serving (the equivalent to approximately one cup).

Net CarbsTotal CarbsFatsProtein
15g15g0g0g
CaloriesFiberSugarsGlycemic Index
600g7.99g3

In summary, coconut water is low in calories and has no fat or cholesterol. Low-calorie foods and drinks are advisable for diabetes as they help keep blood sugar levels in check. A low-calorie diet can also aid weight loss and better weight management – two critical factors for controlling diabetes.

The natural sugar content is just under 8g per 240ml serving. It also contains a fair amount of carbohydrates, with 15g making up 5% of the daily nutritional value. As it contains carbs and sugar, you should consume coconut water in moderation to prevent blood sugar spikes.

Coconut water glycemic index

Coconut water has a low glycemic index of 3 and a glycemic load of 0. Food and drinks that rank low on the glycemic index are essential for a diabetes diet as they are less likely to cause your blood sugar level to rise. 

Unlike high GI foods, which cause blood sugar levels to spike rapidly, low GI foods rise gradually and help control blood sugar levels.

Is the Sugar in Coconut Water Bad for You?

The sugar in coconut water is not bad for your health when consumed in moderation. Coconut water is a sweet liquid that contains only naturally occurring sugars. Like many fruits and fruit juices, your body can benefit from the essential nutrients it brings, despite the sugar. 

However, limiting quantities is necessary, so you do not consume excessive sugar in your diet.

Unsweetened coconut water is the better choice for people with diabetes. It has far less sugar than many artificially-sweetened beverages like fizzy drinks, which, generally, people with diabetes should avoid where possible.

If you’re going to drink coconut water, it’s best to consume the water from immature, green coconuts. Water from the younger variety has less sugar than mature coconut water. Plus, it is far tastier than consuming mature coconut water. 

Always check the nutrition label to keep your blood sugar in check.

How Much Coconut Water Can a Person With Diabetes Drink?

There is no set rule regarding how much coconut water you can drink with diabetes. Based on the sugar and carb content, limiting consumption to no more than two cups per day is best to avoid a potential sugar overload. 

Just one cup of the sweet liquid may be enough to manage and improve blood sugar levels.

Many people enjoy a single cup following physical activity as it helps restore electrolyte balance and provides fast hydration. If you are trying fasting as part of a medically-supervised diabetes diet, electrolytes while fasting are essential.

5 Health Benefits of Coconut Water for Diabetes

So, we’ve identified that drinking coconut water aids the diabetes diet. It is a nutrient-rich beverage that trumps many other fruit juices and sweet drinks as it doesn’t quickly spike blood glucose levels.

Here are 5 additional advantages of coconut water for diabetes.

#1 Better digestion

Coconut water can support digestive health by replenishing lost water and electrolytes following diarrhea. It is rich in magnesium – a nutrient that increases the amount of water in the intestines, encouraging easier bowel movements and preventing constipation.

In larger doses, coconut water has laxative effects that help treat constipation, although too much can have adverse effects.

#2 Good source of nutrients

There are plenty of nutrients in coconut water to maintain good health, including vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. 

Vitamin C can help regulate blood sugar throughout the day while keeping your immune system strong. Potassium can improve insulin sensitivity by increasing insulin production in the body.

#3 High in essential electrolytes

Many people with type 2 diabetes have an electrolyte imbalance due to factors such as high blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, and diabetes medications.

Coconut water contains plenty of natural electrolytes, including potassium, sodium, and manganese, that can help with restoring electrolyte balance.

Drinking coconut water regularly provides adequate hydration, aiding kidney function and urine production. Hydration is critical for those with diabetes.

#4 Rich in antioxidants

Although further human research is necessary, the antioxidant activity of coconut water may be effective in protecting against oxidative stress.

Coconut water also has the potential to reduce blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of retinal damage from diabetic retinopathy, likely due to its antioxidant properties.

#5 Better blood circulation

Poor blood circulation is relatively common among patients with diabetes, as prolonged periods of high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels, restricting blood from traveling through the body as normal. It can result in several health issues, including muscular cramps and kidney failure.

Coconut water can help improve blood circulation by expanding the blood vessels to improve blood flow. Improving blood flow helps lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and other heart-related complications.

FAQs

Does coconut water have sugar?

Yes, coconut water has natural sugars, with 7.99g of sugar per 240ml serving. The amount of sugar can vary between brands and products. Sugar-sweetened coconut water has more sugar than unsweetened, while matured coconut has more sugar than young coconuts.

Does coconut water have carbs?

Yes, coconut water consists of mostly carbs and water, with 15g of carbs per 240ml serving. Despite the carb content, coconut water has a low glycemic index. It doesn’t spike blood glucose levels like other carb-containing sources and is therefore suitable for diabetes.

Is coconut harmful to diabetes?

Eating coconut in moderation is not harmful to people with diabetes. Coconut meat falls into the low category on the glycemic index, which means it doesn’t cause fast or significant blood sugar spikes. However, it is high in calories and saturated fat, so limiting your consumption of coconut is vital.

A Word From Our MD

Coconut water is a healthful drink full of nutrients that can support a diabetes diet plan. Drinking this natural liquid may aid digestion, heart health and help moderate your blood sugar while keeping you hydrated.

It is low-calorie and free from fat and cholesterol. But like sugar-containing fruits, coconut water consumption should be limited if you have diabetes as it has moderate carbs and sugar.

Drinking too much may take you over your carb budget and exceed your daily calorie intake. If you are following the keto diet for diabetes, coconut water is not considered keto-friendly due to its carb content. Even a small dose of coconut water can prevent you from getting into ketosis.

Conclusion

People with diabetes can enjoy tender coconut water without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. It is full of essential nutrients and electrolytes, which may help reduce blood glucose and support the body’s pH balance. Limit your intake, and you can drink coconut water as part of a healthy diet.

Speak to your doctor if you are worried about coconut water’s sugar and carb content. You can also use the Klinio app to help you monitor your blood sugars while following a personalized meal plan tailored to your needs.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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