In the world of functional foods, coconut water has rapidly staked a claim as wellness beverage royalty — and, we’ll be honest, we get it.
The tropically delicious beverage makes for sweet sipping poolside or post-workout, typically with no added flavors or colors. Plus, since it’s simply the juice from inside a coconut — not the meat of the fruit — this plant-based drink contains plenty of nutrients without the high doses of saturated fat you’ll find in many other coconut-based foods.
You may have even seen coconut water touted for pregnancy-related benefits like speeding up labor and taking the edge off morning sickness — but are these claims for real? And when you’re pregnant, does cracking open a can come with any caveats?
Here’s what you need to know about coconut water and pregnancy.
Typically, foods that make the “don’t eat” list for pregnant women are those that have potential for harmful bacterial growth. (We see you — and miss you — sushi and soft cheeses.) For this reason, many moms-to-be wonder if pasteurized (or even unpasteurized) coconut water is safe to drink.
If this sounds like a familiar concern, you can put your mind at ease. Many commercially available forms of coconut water (such as VitaCoco and Zico) have been pasteurized, ensuring their safety for pregnant women.
Even many nonpasteurized “cold-pressed” coconut waters (such as Harmless Harvest) use a microfiltration process to remove bacteria and create a sterile product. It’s important, though, to keep these beverages refrigerated and consume them before printed freshness dates. And if you have any questions about their safety procedures, direct them to the manufacturer.
The other place you can direct food safety questions? Your doctor. Always check in with your physician with concerns about any food or beverage during pregnancy.
Coconut water may be refreshing and tasty, but science has yet to conclusively link it to dramatic health claims. However, it does contain some important nutrients and might have some pregnancy-specific benefits.
Hey, “water” is right there in the name — and for good reason! Coconut water is about
“[Coconut water] can be an option during pregnancy, as it is hydrating and provides electrolytes,” says dietitian Alyssa Pike, RD, manager of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council. If you’re feeling parched, this trendy drink isn’t a bad choice for staying hydrated.
On the other hand, there’s nothing special about coconut water’s hydrating power compared to that of good ol’ H2O. “Water is the gold standard for hydration and less expensive than coconut water,” Pike points out.
2. Replaces lost electrolytes from morning sickness
Who doesn’t love starting their day hurling last night’s dinner into the toilet bowl? Oh, wait, no one.
When nausea and vomiting have you down for the count, it’s possible coconut water’s electrolytes could help your system stabilize. Women with hyperemesis gravidarum — an extreme form of morning sickness — often require added electrolytes to make up for losses from excessive vomiting.
Coconut water contains valuable electrolytes like potassium, sodium, and magnesium.
3. Replenishes lost fluids
Similarly, if morning sickness is making you toss your cookies on repeat, it’s important to replenish the body’s fluid stores. Coconut water is one beverage that will do so without a ton of added sugar.
4. May soothe acid reflux
Ugh, the pain of pregnancy-related heartburn! As your baby bump grows, and progesterone relaxes stomach valves, gastric juice may bubble up into your esophagus, causing discomfort and the dreaded sour burps.
Some pregnant women swear that sipping coconut water soothes their reflux. However, there’s no scientific evidence to support these claims.
5. Contains some nutrients for fetal development
You’ve probably heard how important vitamins and minerals are for your growing baby’s development — hence your doctor’s rec to take your prenatal vitamins. To an extent, coconut water can add to this mix. Depending on the brand, its micronutrients include calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
During pregnancy, magnesium supplementation has been
Although coconut water contains small amounts of some minerals, it’s important to concentrate on consuming a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole foods that provide key macro- and micronutrients needed for fetal and maternal health.
Although all nutrients are essential for a healthy pregnancy, special attention should be concentrated on the intake of certain micronutrients including folate, vitamin D, B-12, choline, iron, omega-3 fats, and calcium. Because many women may not be able to meet increased nutrient demands through food or drink alone, prenatal vitamins are recommended to ensure optimal intake during pregnancy.
6. May reduce blood pressure
For those who have high blood pressure during pregnancy, coconut water may make a smart choice because of its potassium. This nutrient is a known contributor to regulating blood flow and blood pressure. One
Of course, this fruity drink shouldn’t be used as a substitute for treatment for high blood pressure or preeclampsia. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for these conditions.
7. Makes for a smart choice post-workout
One analysis of studies found that coconut water is as hydrating as plain water for restoring hydration after a long bout of exercise — and offers even more complete hydration than water when it contains a little sodium.
While we’re willing to bet you’re not running marathons with a bun in the oven (and if you are, a heartfelt high-five to you) coconut water can make for refreshing rehydration after any kind of prolonged pregnancy-friendly exercise, such as walking or swimming.
Because coconut water also contains electrolytes and some carbs, it can further help with balanced hydration as well.
8. Provides you with a healthier mocktail choice
When a pitcher of margaritas is calling your name, coconut water is a refreshing, low-cal alternative base for crafting a fancy mocktail. Not only is it non-alcoholic, it’s relatively
If you peruse pregnancy message boards, you may see talk of coconut water inducing or aiding labor. Although that would be nice — and would probably boost sales through the roof — at this point, evidence is purely anecdotal. Studies haven’t linked coconut water to causing (or easing) labor.
As with all foods and drinks, there’s a happy medium for coconut water consumption. Some brands come with added sweeteners, which can be problematic for weight gain or if you’re watching your sugars due to gestational diabetes. For the healthiest choice, opt for coconut water with no added sugar, and stay mindful of your portions.
And remember, if hydration is what you’re after, plain water will do just as well as coconut, with 0 calories, carbs, or sugars.
Contrary to glowing posts you may read online, coconut water isn’t likely to make for a perfect pregnancy by erasing stretch marks, curing constipation, or regulating your mood.
But it can be a refreshing, hydrating, and safe beverage choice during pregnancy. So if you enjoy it, stick a tiny umbrella in your glass and sip away!