Coconut water from young, tender coconuts is a refreshing, energizing, sweet, and clear isotonic drink that helps your body in replenishing the lost fluids. Also known as Nariyal Pani and Elaneer in India, it is known for its versatility and innumerable nutritional benefits. This begs the question if it is safe during pregnancy? MomJunction tells you if it is.
Is It Safe To Consume Coconut Water During Pregnancy?
Yes, it is safe to drink tender coconut water during pregnancy. However, like any other food, moderation is the key to safety. Coconut water is rich in minerals, such as potassium, and its overconsumption could lead to too much potassium in the blood. This condition is known as Hyperkalemia (1).
Hyperkalemia could lead to changes in the heart rhythm, which can be fatal. During pregnancy, this electrolyte imbalance could lead to more serious complications.
12 Health Benefits of Coconut Water During Pregnancy
The nutritional benefits of coconut water can be well understood from its proximate composition. 100 grams of tender coconut water contains the following nutrients:
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1. Potential natural diuretic:
Coconut water is considered as a natural diuretic. It increases the urge to urinate because of the presence of potassium, magnesium, and other minerals. They aid in flushing away the toxins and clearing the urinary tract. This possible antilithogenic properties of coconut water could, thus, prevent kidney stones and infections (4). It may also play a crucial role in the prevention of urinary tract infections, therefore lowering the chances of preterm labor.
While the use of coconut water during pregnancy is good, the quantity you consume must be kept in control.
2. Contains essential electrolytes:
The need for electrolytes increases during pregnancy because conditions like morning sickness, nausea, and diarrhea dehydrate the body. Coconut water supplies all the five essential electrolytes: minerals, sodium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, which can soothe the body and provide energy (5).
These electrolytes also aid in the transmission of electrical charges in your body and support muscle functioning. They also support maintain your body’s pH levels and control blood pressure levels (6).
3. Provides relief from heartburn and constipation:
Hormonal changes during pregnancy could lead to several issues such as heartburn, constipation, and indigestion. A considerable dietary fiber content in coconut water could help strengthen the digestive system, enhance digestion, regulate pH levels, and prevent constipation.
Ayurveda considers tender coconut water to be a potential laxative (4). It is considered to improve metabolism and support the detoxification of your body. Coconut water is a natural acid neutralizer and, therefore, can prevent heartburn.
4. Combat infections:
Coconut water has considerable amounts of vitamins, essential minerals, and antioxidants, which boost your immunity, providing resistance from infections. It also contains lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid responsible for the production of a powerful antimicrobial compound monolaurin (7).
5. Supports maintain heart health:
Low electrolytes level spikes the blood pressure. Drinking coconut water can help improve the levels of potassium, magnesium, and lauric acid, which could help in regulating blood pressure (8). It also improves good cholesterol and combats bad cholesterol, a phenomenon crucial for maintaining heart health (9).
A glass of coconut water every day is believed to be useful in the final trimester when there is brewing tension of labor that can increase your blood pressure.
6. Aids in maintaining a healthy weight:
Coconut water is fat-free and low in calories (9). So, its moderate consumption instead of sugar-laden drinks helps in maintaining weight during pregnancy. As pregnancy adds extra weight to your body, coconut water could help prevent it from getting any worse by controlling the total calorie consumption and controlling hunger pangs.
7. Natural drink:
Coconut water is a tasty natural drink that is free from artificial flavors or harmful components. During pregnancy, getting dehydrated is not uncommon. You can opt for coconut water as it can quench your thirst and refresh you without adding any harmful substances to your body.
8. Rehydrate after workout:
Coconut water is a natural isotonic drink, which helps rehydrate and supply energy when you are dehydrated, fatigued, and exhausted. If you exercise regularly, you can opt for coconut water as an energy drink (10). Hydration is considered to improve the elasticity of the skin, therefore limiting the stretch marks that develop during pregnancy (11).
9. Low sugar content:
Lethargy is common during pregnancy. Therefore, you may look for energy drinks. This does not seem to be bothersome at that moment. However, excessive intake of sugar can lead to an increase in overall blood sugar levels. One hundred grams of coconut water has 2.1 grams of sugar, which is lesser than other energy drinks. It will not add to any pregnancy weight, and a diet low in simple sugars will lower the risk of getting gestational diabetes.
10. Might help fetal growth:
Some researchers have found that tender coconut water contains certain biologically active compounds and growth-promoting factors (12). In addition, coconut water also offers all the essential nutrients to the mother that are believed to help in the growth and development of the fetus.
11. Improves amniotic fluid levels:
Coconut water, taken especially in the third-trimester, boosts the amniotic fluid levels and enhances blood volume and circulation (13).
12. Overall protection:
A research study showed that coconut water during pregnancy provides protection against maternal high-fat diet-induced changes (14). This is crucial as it has been demonstrated in various researches that maternal diet impacts the growth and development of the fetus. However, more research is required to validate the use the claim.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Coconut Water During Pregnancy?
There is no evidence that proves coconut water has adverse effects on pregnancy. Like any other fruit or vegetable juice, it also seems to be safe. However, safety during pregnancy is vital for the mother and the unborn baby. Therefore, it is wise to be cautious. Overconsumption of ripe coconut water may cause constipation.
How Much Coconut Water Can A Pregnant Woman Have?
- Moderation is always the key when it comes to taking a healthy diet. You can drink up to one to two glass of coconut water a day.
- Prefer to consume fresh coconut water from young coconuts over packaged coconut water. Use a clean straw or pour it into a glass and drink.
- Do not consume coconut water if you react to it or dislike its taste.
How To Select The Right Coconut?
To enjoy the various benefits of coconut water, you should know how to select them properly. These tips may help you to buy fresh and tender coconut.
A fresh coconut will be light and sweet and will not contain coconut meat, the white, fleshy, tender substance. A ripe or stale one will taste sour.
Selection: Pick medium-sized, clean, and green colored coconuts as they contain large amounts of water. Do not choose coconuts that have hard brown shells and gray patches as they indicate mature nuts.
Water: Shake the coconut vigorously near your ear to check if it has water. Select the ones which produce good sloshing sound. A fresh coconut will contain nearly a cup of water.
If you want to store coconuts at home, keep them in a cool area.
Myths About Coconut Water During Pregnancy:
You may also come across some myths, and it is very important for you to get those facts clear. Here they are:
Myth 1 – Coconut Water Has Magical Properties
Coconut water contains many nutrients, which is the reason it is suggested for pregnant women.
Fact: Pregnant women need all essential nutrients and minerals in proper amounts. It is an age-old myth that coconut water alone can help meet all those nutritional requirements, especially during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a time when quality nutrition is highly crucial. In such a scenario, moderation and variety should be the focus. A well-planned, balanced diet is what you need. To this balanced diet, coconut water can be added.
Myth 2 – Coconut Water Improves Baby Hair
Your baby will be born with thick hair on the scalp when you drink coconut water during pregnancy.
Fact: There are no research studies that could link the consumption of coconut water to the quality of the baby’s hair.
Myth 3 – Coconut Water Makes Your Baby’s Skin Fair And Healthy
Drinking coconut water while you are pregnant will give a clear and fair complexion to your baby.
Fact: Mere consumption of coconut water will not make your baby’s skin fair and clear. Your baby’s skin and health will depend on many factors, including genetics, nutrition, parents’ health, and more.
Eating Coconut During Pregnancy:
Consumption of coconut meat is also considered beneficial during pregnancy.
Benefits Of Coconut Meat During Pregnancy:
Coconut kernel or meat is the flesh of the tender green coconut, which is nutritious. Coconut flesh from tender green coconuts is sweet. However, the total sugar content of the same is less compared to many other fruits. Also, it is rich in protein and minerals such as iron, zinc, and phosphorus (15). This nutrition profile makes it a wise choice to eat coconut meat during pregnancy.
1. Breast milk:
It is believed that regular consumption of coconut meat during pregnancy enhances the supply of breast milk after delivery. However, there are no clinical studies that could associate the consumption of coconut meat and the enhancement of breastmilk supply.
Although, considerable scientific studies exist to relate the oral and topical application of virgin coconut oil to enhanced production of breastmilk.
Coconut oil is rich in lauric and capric acid. These are two medium-chain triglycerides, the consumption of which during the lactation phase is beneficial. These fatty acids are known to possess antiviral, antibacterial, and parasiticidal effects, which could aid in the development of the immune system.
2. Improves blood circulation:
The blood volume doubles during pregnancy, causing swollen feet and legs. Poor circulation of blood aggravates the condition. It is believed that consuming coconut meat can possibly improve your blood circulation and prevents swelling and pain in the legs. However, there are no clinical studies to prove this.
However, a randomized crossover trial showed that oral consumption of virgin coconut oil can increase the concentration of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This property is considered to be potentially beneficial for cardiovascular health (16).
3. Aids digestion:
Coconut meat is nutritious and rich in fiber (9). It is due to its rich fiber content that is considered effective in managing constipation, a common concern during pregnancy.
4. Better sleep:
Sleep during the third trimester is something that many pregnant women struggle with. This is partly due to hormones and partly due to increasing weight that makes it difficult for women to sleep in a specific position for long.
Both these causes lead to sleep disturbances, which then lead to fatigue and disrupt the overall wellbeing of the expecting woman (17). In alternative medicine, it is believed that having coconut meat in combination with poppy seeds and ghee may aid in the regulation of your sleep cycle.
5. Boosts metabolism:
It is believed that oral consumption of coconut meat mixed with spices could be helpful in boosting metabolic activities in pregnant women. However, there are no specific studies to prove the validity of the belief.
Coconut Milk During Pregnancy:
Coconut milk is a thick and milky liquid obtained by crushing grated coconut flesh. It is also an essential ingredient in many foods, especially in Southeast Asian dishes. Coconut milk helps boost body fuel. It is completely safe to drink unless you are allergic to it. So, consult your doctor before you plan to add the same to your diet.
Benefits Of Coconut Milk During Pregnancy:
1. Possibly improves immunity:
Coconut milk contains lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that makes up most of the MCTs in coconut oil. It is believed to have antibacterial and antiviral properties (18) that might be helpful for pregnant women. This type of fat is considered to help improve the immune system, according to the book ‘Coconut Oil and Immune System’ by Sherri Neal. The long-chain fatty acids are considered to straighten the blood vessels and reduce any blockages in the heart, thereby improving the heart condition as well.
2. Other benefits:
- It contains good amounts of iron, which can aid in treating anemia.
- It can aid in improving digestive issues
- It could offer relaxation to the muscles and nervous system
- Could help manage blood sugar and blood pressure levels
- Provides symptomatic relief from joint pains and scratching pains
- Could make your body fit and helps lose weight
How To Prepare Fresh Coconut Milk?
It is advisable to make coconut milk at home, fresh rather than opt for a packaged one.
- Grate one whole coconut and add one and a half cups of hot water.
- Leave the mixture to cool at room temperature.
- Once the mixture is cooled, strain it to obtain the milk.
One cup of coconut milk (approximately 240gm) has the following nutritional values:
- Calories – 550
- Fats – 50.2gm (all types of fats)
- Sodium – 40gm
- Carbohydrates – 14gm (in 250gm milk)
- Proteins – 6gm
- Vitamin C – 11%
- Iron – 22%
- Calcium – 4%
Is Canned Coconut Milk Good During Pregnancy?
Canned coconut milk is safe to have during pregnancy, but you need to make sure that the can is not corroded, rusted, expired, or stored at unsafe temperatures.
Coconut milk contains considerable amounts of saturated fats, i.e., 3gm in one tablespoon. Taking in too much-saturated fat could increase both good and bad cholesterol levels in the body. In the case of canned milk, you should be aware of your consumption level as it should not exceed your daily requirement.
Besides the above, other reasons why you cannot choose canned coconut milk are:
1. Bisphenol – A (BPA):
It is a chemical usually used in the lining of cans used for packaged foods. This BPA may gradually leach into acidic, fatty, or salty foods like coconut milk, vegetables, tomatoes, and soups. A study states that there is a relation between high BPA levels in mothers and neurobehavioral problems in infants (19).
2. Guar Gum:
Guar gum is an additive present in canned coconut milk. It is a galactomannan, a polysaccharide, and is mainly a ground endosperm of guar beans. There have been complaints like severe abdominal cramping, indigestion, flatulence, and diarrhea, as beans are difficult to digest. In a clinical experiment, patients who had gut issues showed improvement when they stopped using canned coconut milk in their diet.
3. Fructose malabsorption:
It is a digestive disorder characterized by an impairment of fructose (a simple sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and honey) transport across the small intestine. The increased fructose levels in the gut cause bacterial overgrowth. It, therefore, reduces the absorption of water into the intestine. Pregnant women with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are highly affected by fructose malabsorption (20).
According to a brief on Fructose Restricted Diet, St. Luke’s Hospital recommends limiting the use of coconut milk and cream. Coconut milk contains sugar, including fructose (21). Therefore, it should also be avoided by those affected by IBD and IBS disorders.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is buko juice safe for pregnant women?
Buko juice or coconut juice is a mixture of coconut water, tender coconut meat, and milk. It is a very refreshing and healthy drink, popular in the Philippines. All you need to do is extract the coconut water, scrape the meat, and put them both in a pitcher. Add milk, sugar, and lots of ice cubes. Allow the mixture to melt and then serve. Since the drink is a combination of coconut water, meat, and milk, it can be safely consumed by pregnant women.
2. Does coconut water need pasteurization?
Unlike other fruit juices that are better when pasteurized, tender coconut water is traditionally consumed fresh. However, if you are consuming a packaged or canned coconut water, pasteurization is mandatory to ensure microbiological safety.
Tender coconut is a wise choice during pregnancy. Its multiple products, such as meat, milk, and water, can be beneficial for both the mother and the developing fetus. However, ensuring the quality of coconuts is very important in this respect. Even quantity needs to be managed cautiously. Excess of coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut meat have their own implications. So, consume them judiciously.
Hope you have all the information on coconut water during pregnancy. If you have anything more to share, write to us in the comment section below.
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21. Fructose Restricted Diet; St. Luke’s Hospital
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