Coconut water has always been revered as the ‘Fluid of Life’, by people living along a coastline and in humid tropics. Much like a performing artist, lithe pickers skilfully clamber up palm trees, machetes at the ready. Moments later, the soft thuds of green coconuts hitting the ground beckon everyone - as if signalling ‘the bar is open’. For urban dwellers, a more common site is to see piles of coconuts lining the streets, as vendors deftly hack the top of a green coconut, insert a straw and offer a refreshing drink. The less fortunate have to be content with supermarket versions of packaged coconut water – although in recent years the availability of brands with no sugar or flavours added has made a welcome difference.
The nutrient-dense and mineral-rich sap found in the centre of a coconut is one of the purest liquids – second only to water itself. Coconut water generally has a bland taste, and each nut may contain between 200 to 1000 ml of water. Packaged by nature, the water inside is sterile, non-allergenic and free of any bacteria, fungus, or parasite. It has even been known to be safely injected directly into the bloodstream, during times of war or famine.
In recent years, this humble offering from nature is being seen in a new light. In addition to being an excellent rehydrating fluid, many believe its benefits extend to regulating blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. It has been found to boost energy levels, and increase metabolism in the human body. Because of its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, it is being seen as a natural source of nutrition, wellness, beauty and hydration.
As a natural electrolyte and isotonic beverage, it is chock full of calcium, potassium, magnesium and several vitamins.Coconut water can replace the valuable electrolytes that are lost on a hot day, and especially during vigorous physical activity or sports. Importantly, its superior sodium potassium balance, and absence of added sugars, preservatives or artificial flavours, makes it a superior alternative to most sports drinks. It is also very often recommended as a natural treatment for dehydration, caused by dysentery, cholera, diarrhoea and stomach flu.
Tip of the week
It is always best to consume coconut water fresh. Water from young, green coconuts is regarded as superior in both taste and quality.The liquid should ideally be clear and mildly sweet. Younger coconuts that are loaded with water are better because they have more water. In general, nuts harvested at about 5-7 months of age are best.
Fresh tender coconuts are readily available in the markets in tropical countries all around the year. Tender nuts can be stored at room temperature for about 5-10 days. Once opened, the water should be used soon, otherwise the flavour will turn. It is possible to store in the refrigerator for a short period. It is best savoured without any additions. Iced coconut water can be a refreshing hydrating drink. For some, it is a popular hangover cure!
Nature’s Wonder Food of the week: Coconut water or Cocus nucifera
Several hundred species of coconut palm are grown all over the tropics. Taste and flavour of coconut water can vary. Coconut water contains virtually no fat, and is very low in calories – just under 50 calories per 250 ml cup. It is sterile, and composed of sugars, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes, amino acids, cytokines(immune-modulating agents) and phyto-hormones.
Per 100 g, the average constituents are Carbohydrates 3.71 g, Protein 0.72 g, Fat 0.20 g and Dietary Fiber 1.1 g . Coconut water is a good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates. In addition, fresh coconut water has a small amount of VC, at 2.4 mg per 100 g .
Coconut water contains a very good amount of electrolytes. Every 100 ml of coconut water has 250 mg of potassium and 105 mg of sodium. At this level, the high potassium content rivals that of bananas. Drinking coconut water on a regular basis can be quite effective in regulating blood pressure. Together, the electrolytes present in coconut water help replenish electrolyte deficiency in the body, due to dehydration or diarrhea . After sports and workouts, the high potassium content can prevent cramping, and help promote recovery.
Oral intake of coconut water helps in breaking down and eliminating kidney and bladder stones. Coconut Water contains Lauric acid; our body converts it into monolaurin, which has powerful antiviral and antibacterial activity. υ
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
(Canadian School of Natural
Nutrition) For education purposes only; always consult a healthcare practitioner for medical conditions