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As you navigate your journey of pregnancy, you likely are looking for easy, healthy options to nourish your body.
One potential addition to your diet is coconut water, which has been touted for its hydrating and nutrient-rich properties. But you may be wondering if it lives up to its health claims.
We’ve got you covered!
In this article, we’ll explore the potential benefits of coconut water during pregnancy, as well as any potential side effects or risks you should be aware of.
Let’s get started.
What Is Coconut Water?
Coconut water is a functional food (food consumed specifically for the health benefits) used around the world. There are many health claims surrounding coconut water, including claims about improving blood pressure, inflammation, and pregnancy symptoms.
Coconut water is simply the clear fluid at the center of a coconut. In tropical regions where coconuts grow naturally, some people will drink the water straight from the coconut.
Most canned and bottled forms of coconut water go through a pasteurization process to kill harmful bacteria before being sold to consumers.
Potential Benefits of Coconut Water in Pregnancy
Helps Maintain Adequate Hydration
Coconut water is a great way to stay hydrated during pregnancy. Pregnant women already need more fluid than usual because your body has a larger amount of circulating blood during pregnancy.
Plus, any fluid that has been lost from vomiting needs to be replaced in addition to the increased fluid required during pregnancy.
Add to this the increased fluid needs from sweating during exercise or summer heat, you need to drink a LOT.
Ideally, water will be your primary source of hydration. However, you can switch it up by drinking plain coconut water or adding it to your favorite non-alcholic drink recipe, such as this Strawberry Coconut Water Lemondade from Iowa Girl Eats or this Watermelon Coconut Water Refresher Smoothie from Creative Green Living.
Electrolytes are important minerals found in the body that help regulate bodily functions such as muscle contractions, heart rate, and nerve function. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which can help prevent muscle cramps and maintain a healthy heart rate.
Rich in Nutrients
Coconut water is low in calories and carbohydrates as well as high in essential nutrients. The specific amount of each nutrient varies depending on the age of the coconut when it was picked.
According to the USDA, a 100ml serving of coconut water (which as just shy of ½ cup) contains the following nutrients: 1
- Calories: 19
- Carbohydrates: 5 grams
- Calcium: 23 mg
- Potassium: 215 mg
- Sodium: 13 mg
- Magnesium: 6 mg
- Vitamin C: 9 mg https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1100594/nutrients
Some people claim that coconut water may help with acid reflux and heartburn by functioning as a natural acid neutralizer. However, few studies exist to show its effectiveness.
Helps Relieve Morning Sickness
Nausea, also frequently referred to as morning sickness, is a common complaint among pregnant women. Some people claim that drinking coconut water during pregnancy may help relieve nausea.
We only found one published study that has investigated the effect of coconut water on nausea in pregnancy. The researchers found that reported morning sickness scores were significantly decreased among the group of women drinking the coconut water compared to a placebo. 2
While there needs to be more research on using coconut water to help treat morning sickness, it can help replace some of the fluids and electrolytes that were lost while vomiting.
Studies suggest that certain minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium may help lower blood pressure. These minerals can be obtained from a variety of food sources, but are also present in coconut water. Therefore, the minerals in coconut water may help lower blood pressure.3
Talk to your doctor if you are having high blood pressure during pregnancy. This can be a sign of a serious medical condition and should not be treated at home without consulting with your doctor.
While coconut water is touted as a digestive aid, there is little research to back this claim. For most people, drinking a cup or two of coconut water may not make their digestion worse, but it may not make it better either.
Inflammation is a contributing factor to many joint issues and some people claim that coconut water may help improve joint pain.
A small study conducted on rats showed an improvement in paw inflammation when given coconut water. The rats that drank the coconut water saw similar improvement to the rats who were given ibuprofen, which is commonly taken for joint pain.
More human studies need to be done to determine if coconut water may be an effective alternative treatment to joint pain. However, initial research indicates that coconut water may have some promising anti-inflammatory benefits.4
There are claims that drinking coconut water during pregnancy may help ease labor. While it may helpful for staying hydrated and replacing electrolytes during labor, there is no research to support any other benefits during labor.
Side Effects of Coconut Water During Pregnancy
Make sure to consume fresh coconut water that is within its expiration date. Also, make sure to refrigerate it properly and avoid consuming coconut water that has not been pasteurized.
The risk of harmful bacteria increases if the coconut water is left at unsafe temperatures or as a “fresh pressed juice” and is not recommended during pregnancy. Fortunately, most packaged coconut water is pasteurized and safe to drink.
Contains Added Sweeteners
Some brands of coconut water contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners. While added sugars can raise your blood sugars, artificial sweeteners may also affect negatively affect blood sugars and gut health. When purchasing coconut water, try to buy a brand that does not add any sweeting agents. 5
While coconut water has its benefits, consuming excessive amounts could lead to a disruption in electrolyte balance, which can be harmful for anyone, including during pregnancy. Electrolyte imbalances can cause problems with muscle contractions, nerves function, and heart function.
Gut Problems, Including Diarrhea
In people with a history of digestive issues, coconut water may worsen these symptoms. Coconut water is high in FODMAPs, which as short-chain carbohydrates that some people have difficulty digesting. This may lead to bloating and diarrhea if consumed in large quantities (½-1 cup at at time). 6
How Much Coconut Water Should You Drink During Pregnancy?
There is no established safe limit for coconut water. Therefore, coconut water is safe to drink in moderation. If you have a history of IBS or other gut problems, you may develop worsening GI symptoms if you drink more than 1 cup per day.
What is The Best Time to Drink Coconut Water?
Coconut water can be drank at any time for hydration, but may be especially helpful after exercise or vomiting to replace any electrolytes that were lost.
Coconut Water in Early Pregnancy
Drinking coconut water in early pregnancy may be helpful to help you stay hydrated and help maintain electrolyte balance during morning sickness.
Coconut water pregnancy third trimester
Coconut water is generally considered safe to drink during pregnancy third trimester.
Final Thoughts on Coconut Water During Pregnancy
Coconut water is a functional food that is gaining popularity as a source of hydration for pregnant women. It is rich in nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C.
The primary benefit of coconut water during pregnancy is that it can help pregnant women maintain adequate hydration, which is crucial for overall health during pregnancy.
However, there is limited research on its effectiveness in treating joint pain, digestive issues, or easing labor.
Coconut water during pregnancy is considered safe if moderation. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before making coconut water a regular part of your diet.
If you want to learn more about pregnancy nutrition, check out our articles on pregnancy breakfast ideas, miso soup in pregnancy, or gestational diabetes dessert ideas.