Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside immature coconuts. As the coconut matures, the water is replaced by coconut meat. Coconut water is sometimes referred to as green coconut water because the immature coconuts are green in color. It has been dubbed “Mother Nature’s sports drink” or the “fluid of life”, by marketers, and the demand is skyrocketing, propelled by celebrity and athlete endorsements and promises to hydrate the body and help with a whole host of conditions, from hangovers to cancer and kidney stones. Coconut water is safe for everyone to drink fresh from the nut. As the Hawaiians say, coconut water is “dew from the heavens. Naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste, it is not the same as coconut milk or oil which are gotten from the mature fruit, coconut water is tapped from young, green coconuts.
What does coconut water contain?
The composition, and physicochemical characteristics of coconut water are influenced by factors such as geographical location and variety. It is a rich source of sugars in from of Fructose, Glucose, and Sucrose. It also contains minerals like potassium, Zinc, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and protein in the form of amino acids. Coconut water also has a high water content.
In general, young coconuts (7 to 9 months) have higher sugar levels than mature coconuts (10 to 13 months), while mature coconuts have higher protein levels and pH values than young coconuts. For this reason, the sweetness of coconut water increases to its maximum between 7 to 9 months, and becomes less sweet as it ages. The amount of minerals can also vary between young and mature coconuts. For example, the amount of potassium in coconut water increases as the coconut matures.
What are the health benefits and uses of coconut water?
The rich contents of coconut water make it very healthy and it has been found to be effective when used for several purposes. These health benefits and uses are:
- It is Rich in Nutrients: Coconut water can be taken as a nutrient rich beverage.
- Helps in Weight-loss Efforts: The fat content in coconut water is extremely low, so generous quantities can be consumed without the fear of immediately packing on the pounds. It also suppresses the appetite and makes one feel full after taking it. This will reduce the tendency to eat and lead to weight loss.
- Facilitates Digestion: It helps in quick digestion and prevents bloating after meals.
- Helps as a hangover remedy. The rich content of electrolytes helps to balance the stomach after alcohol consumption and also replaces fluid which may be lost during vomiting.
- Healthy skin. Coconut water is wonderful for the skin and when coconut water is applied to affected skin areas with acne, spots, wrinkles, stretch marks, cellulite and eczema, it can clear up the skin.
- Anti-ageing Properties: The antioxidants in coconut water also helps to induce a youthful glow.
- May have antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of coconut water can also boost the immune system. It also contains lauric acid which has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, which boost the body’s immune system.
- Supports heart health: The magnesium and potassium contained in coconut water help in maintaining healthy heart functions.
- Coconut Water During Pregnancy: Coconut water is generally recommended during pregnancy as it helps in constipation, heart burn and slow digestion.
- Coconut Water and Kidney Disease: Tender coconut water is very beneficial to a person with kidney stones due to its minerals, potassium and magnesium content. This water also acts as a diuretic as it increases the flow and production of urine.
- Healthy hair: Coconut water promotes hair growth and is effective against dandruff and lice.
- It may also help lower blood sugar for people living with diabetes
- It is beneficial for rehydration after prolonged exercise due to its high electrolytes which can easily replace fluid and electrolyte loss during exercise. In this regard, coconut water is comparable to sports drinks
- Coconut water is also an excellent source of fluid replacement in people who have diarrhea or are vomiting. This can be lifesaving as dehydration can easily lead to death, especially in children.
How best to take coconut water?
Once the coconut is opened, coconut water begins to lose its nutrients and flavors. This is partly due to naturally occurring enzymes found in coconut water. When peroxidase (POD) and polyphenol oxidase (PPO) come into contact with oxygen, reactions cause nutritional and flavor losses.
Left at a room temperature of 25°C, fresh coconut water turns sour, as various oxidative and fermentative reactions occur. This forms acids as products. To maintain the acceptability of fresh coconut water, it should be kept under chilled condition at all times.
Is coconut water bad for your teeth?
The health benefits of coconut water also extend to the teeth. One of the biggest issues in oral health is the activities of oral bacteria. The bacteria produce acids that will eat away at the enamel, leading to decay and cavities. Bacteria are found in dental plaque, which hardens onto the teeth and can cause gum disease. Coconut water contains lauric acid which attacks these harmful bacteria in the mouth.
Another great oral health benefit of coconut water is that it works to replace electrolytes in the body.This is particularly important for people that need optimum fluid and electrolyte in preparation for oral surgery, like removing the wisdom teeth. Also, most times the alternative to coconut water is often mineral drinks. These drinks are high in sugar and can predispose to tooth diseases. Coconut water is certainly a healthier alternative to these mineral drinks.
However, it should be noted that coconut water still has sugars, even though they are low. These sugars can also potentially feed the oral bacteria causing tooth decay. Also, some pre-packaged coconut water is sugar flavored, making this worse.
In summary, while coconut water has dental benefits, moderation is key, and unsweetened coconut water is more beneficial than flavored coconut water. The dental health benefits of coconut water are maximized if it is combined with a good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.
Lastly, despite all these benefits, the best fluid for rehydration and oral health remains clean water!