Coconut water could be an excellent natural sports drink, a new study suggests.
A scientific analysis by US researchers has revealed the liquid contains five times as much potassium as other popular fitness drink, said Chhandashri Bhattacharya, who conducted the comparison for Indiana University Southeast, in a statement.
Bhattacharya said that the potassium in coconut water also may 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% higher risk of death from all causes.
Other analyses indicate that a 12-ounce serving of coconut water has more potassium than a banana.
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Coconut water is the clear liquid found most abundantly inside young, green coconuts, which are fruits of the coconut palm. It long has been a popular drink in the tropics, where street and beach vendors sell green coconuts with a drinking straw in the top. Coconut water now is available in bottles, cans and other containers, and marketers have promoted it as a healthy beverage.
Bhattacharya's team analyzed coconut water, Gatorade and Powerade and found that coconut water contained up to 1,500 mg/liter of potassium, compared to up to 300 mg/liter for Powerade and Gatorade.
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, in a statement.
Sweating makes people lose more sodium than potassium, and coconut water alone can't replace that lost sodium.