Coconut water is the juice in the interior or endosperm of young coconut. The water is one of the nature’s most refreshing drinks consumed worldwide for its nutritious and health benefiting properties.
Botanically, coconut plant belongs to the Arecaceae family of palm trees and has scientific name: Its juicy water is usually obtained by opening a tender, green, healthy, and undamaged coconut. The liquid is clear, sweet, and sterile and composed of unique chemicals such as sugars, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes, amino acids, cytokine, and phyto-hormones. In general, young and slightly immature nuts harvested when they are about 5-7 months of age for drinking purpose.
Each nut may contain about 200 to 1000 ml of water depending on cultivar type and size. Any nuts younger than 5 months age tend to be bitter in taste and devoid of nutrients. Whereas, older nuts have less water and their endosperm becomes thicker as white edible meat (kernel). Coconut milk obtained from the meat is therefore should not be confused with coconut water.
Coconut palm flourishes well along the costal tropical environments. A coconut tree may yield several hundred tender nuts each season. Several hundred species of coconut palm grown all over the tropics, so taste and flavor of water thus vary according to saline content, distance from sea shore, mainland etc.
Health benefits of coconut water
- Coconut water is a very refreshing drink to beat tropical summer thirst. The juice is packed with simple sugar, electrolytes, and minerals to replenish hydration levels in the body.
- Research studies suggest that cytokinins (e.g., kinetin and trans-zeatin) in coconut water showed significant anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic effects.
- Coconut water has been generally offered to patients with diarrhea in many tropic regions to replace fluid loss from the gastrointestinal tract and reduce the need for intravenous therapy. The osmolarity of tender coconut water is slightly greater than that of WHO recommended ORS (Oral Rehydration Therapy) osmolarity. Presence of other biological constituents like amino acids, enzymes, minerals, and fatty acids may account for this higher osmolarity. However, unlike WHO-ORS, its water is very low in sodium and chlorides, but rich in sugars and amino acids. This well-balanced fluid composition with much needed calories would be an ideal drink than any other brand of soft drink beverages in dehydration conditions.
- Coconut water is composed of many naturally occurring bioactive enzymes such as acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase, RNA polymerases etc. Altogether, these enzymes aid in digestion and metabolism.
- Despite very light consistency, its water has much better composition of minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc than some of fruits like oranges. (Compare mineral composition oforanges).
- Its water is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.
- Coconut water contains a very good amount of electrolyte potassium. 100 ml of water has 250 mg of potassium and 105 mg of sodium. Together, these electrolytes help replenish electrolytes deficiency in the body due to diarrhea (loose stools).
- In addition, fresh coconut water has small amount of vitamin-C (ascorbic acid); provides about 2.4 mcg or 4% of RDA. Vitamin C is a water-soluble ant-oxidant.