Coconut Water Health benefits Selection and storage Side effects and cautions

Coconut Water

When we talks about coconut water we actually denote the juice found inside the endosperm or cavity of a young and tender coconut (botanical name Cocos nucifera). Coconut water is considered to be among the most refreshing drinks of the nature. People across the globe consume coconut water for its nourishing as well as health enhancing qualities.

Coconut water is obtained by cracking open a green, tender and undamaged coconut. The liquid found inside the coconut endosperm is clear, sweet and sterile containing distinctive chemical compounds like various types of sugars, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, electrolytes, minerals, phyto-hormones, and cytokine. Usually, coconuts that have matured for anything between five and seven months are harvested from the trees to obtain their water for drinking.

It is worth mentioning here that coconut tree is a member of the Arecaceae family - belonging to the palm trees.

The amount of water contained by a coconut varies between 200 ml and 1000 ml subject to its size and type of cultivar. It is not advisable to drink the water of any coconut that has not grown for five months, because the water of such nuts not only tastes bitter, but also does not contain any nutrient. On the other hand, very mature coconuts, which have grown for more than seven months, contain scant water and the endosperm of such coconuts condenses to form a white edible substance (kernel).

The edible endosperm or coconut meat is used to obtain coconut milk and, hence, it is important not to mistake the milk for coconut water.

Coconut plants thrive well when grown in tropical environments along the coasts. Each season, a single coconut tree has the potential to yield several hundred such tender fruits. You may find dissimilar species of coconut palms growing in different tropical regions. As a result, there is a variation in the taste as well as flavour of their water, depending on the salinity of the soil on which the trees grow, climate, the distance of the plants from the seashore and many other factors.

Health benefits

Aside from being a very uplifting drink, coconut water offers several health benefits. In the tropics, coconut water is excellent to beat the summer thirst. Coconut water is loaded with several simple sugars, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes, which are all helpful in replenishing fluids, thereby treating dehydration in the human body.

Findings of several studies have hinted that coconut water encloses cytokinins, for instance kinetin and trans-zeatin. These natural compounds have potent anti-ageing, anti-cancer and anti-thrombotic properties. Since it has anti-thrombotic attributes, this liquid works to prevent unwanted blood clot formation.

In several tropical regions, coconut water is usually given to diarrhea patients with a view to replenish the rapid fluid loss from the GI (gastrointestinal tract), thereby preventing acute dehydration and the need to hospitalize the patient. The osmolarity (intensity of a solution conveyed as the overall number of solute particles in each litre) of the liquid obtained from tender coconuts is a bit higher compared to the ORS (Oral Rehydration Therapy) recommended by the WHO. Moreover, coconut water contains several biological elements such as amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and enzymes and all these contribute to the elevated osmolarity of this liquid. However, different from the ORS recommended by the WHO, water of tender coconuts contains very low amounts of chlorides and sodium. On the other hand, sugar and amino acid content of coconut water is relatively higher compared to ORS. As a result, the fluid composition of this liquid is ideally balanced along with the essential calories, making it a perfect drink compared to any variety of soft drink beverage commercially available in the market to treat diarrhea and symptoms associated with this condition.

It is worth mentioning here that coconut water is made up of several bioactive enzymes that occur naturally, for instance, acid phosphatase, catalase, diastase, dehydrogenase, peroxidase, RNA-polymerases and others. Actually, all these enzymes aid in digestion as well as metabolism.

Although the consistency of coconut water is very light, the proportion of its mineral constituents, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese is similar to some fruit juices such as oranges. In addition, coconut water has a high content of B-complex vitamins like thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folates and pyridoxine. All these vitamins are necessary for the normal functioning of our body and usually the body replenishes these vitamins by acquiring them from external sources.

Aside from the above mentioned nutrients, coconut water also contains adequate quantities of electrolyte potassium. It has been found that 100 ml of coconut water contains 250 mg potassium, in addition to 105 mg of sodium. Working in unison, these electrolytes facilitate the replenishment of electrolytes lost by the body owing to loose stools when one is suffering from diarrhea.

Coconut water contains very low amounts of fat and this is one reason why you do not risk augmenting your body weight even if you consume this liquid in generous amounts. At the same time, drinking coconut water also restrains your appetite and gives you a sense of fullness owing to its rich nutrient content.

Coconut water is also beneficial for treating skin problems like acne and other blemishes. If you are suffering from any such problem, you may apply this liquid topically as it will help in clearing acne and blemishes in addition to toning up the skin. This natural, nutritious liquid is also helpful for moisturizing the skin from inside, especially when it is taken internally. Drinking coconut water also helps to get rid of large amounts of unwanted oils from the body. This is the main reason why many beauty care products, including facial creams, lotions, shampoos as well as conditioners containing trace amounts of coconut are more useful compared to others.

Drinking coconut water also helps to get over hangover. If you drink excessive alcoholic beverages next time, more than what your belly and system can handle, it is advisable that you drink coconut water to cure your stomach. At the same time, drinking this liquid will also help to replenish the essential electrolytes that are lost from the body owing to frequent bouts of vomiting and urination.

If you are suffering from persistent digestive problems, coconut water may be the right remedy. Drinking coconut water helps to ease the digestive process and also alleviates indigestion. Since coconut water contains elevated levels of dietary fiber, it helps to prevent indigestion and, at the same time, lessens the incidences of acid reflux.

Compared to the numerous sports and energy drinks available in the market, the components of coconut water are much more effectual in keeping the human body hydrated. The human body gives up plenty of fluids rich in mineral content when one is undertake physical activities for prolonged periods or doing rigorous exercises. Drinking coconut water during or after these activities will help to replenish the fluid as well as minerals, as one glass of this natural water contains 294 mg potassium in addition to 5 mg of natural sugars. Contrary to this, the popular sports drinks in the market only have half the amount of potassium contained by coconut water, while they enclose processed sugars five time more than the natural sugars in this natural fluid.

Intake of disproportionate amounts of electrolyte may lead to hypertension (high blood pressure) on many occasions. Since coconut water encloses just the right amounts of each of these minerals, this natural liquid can be employed in the form of a balancing mechanism. In a number of cases, consumption of coconut water is recommended at the beginning of each day in order to promote the stability of the electrolytes in our body.

Different from other commercially available beverages, five essential electrolytes are found in coconut water. These electrolytes are also present in our body. These electrolytes include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Owing to such a unique composition, people enduring various types of medical conditions can safely enjoy drinking coconut water.

As coconut water is isotonic to the plasma present in humans, you can use this liquid in extreme emergencies to rehydrate one's body very quickly, provided it is administered intravenously. Hence, it is not unusual to find coconut water being used to save human lives in the poorer countries of the third world.

Selection and storage

You can purchase fresh, tender coconuts throughout the year in markets in the tropical regions across the globe. As coconut palm trees do not grow in cold and semi-tropical regions, it needs to be imported to these places. These days, Malaysia and Thailand export tender coconuts containing ready to drink water to various regions of the world, including the United States, Canada and countries in the European Union. As a result, coconut water is more easily available in these places.

Currently, you can also purchased coconut water in bottles and packets. However, it is important to note that the general nutritional value of packaged coconut water may not be the same as the original water obtained from coconuts. The level of vitamins and enzymes in packaged coconut water may be much less owing to the different types of additives and preservatives included to augment the shelf life of such products.

It is quite easy to store raw, tender coconuts, which can be stored at normal room temperature at home for anything between 5 days and 10 days. However, once the tender coconuts are cut and the water is taken out, it becomes sour and its flavour changes rapidly owing to strong enzymatic activities. If you do not use the liquid immediately after opening the coconuts, it is advisable that you store the water inside a refrigerator, where it will keep well for few hours.

Side effects and cautions

Coconut water is safe for everyone. This natural liquid is a favourite drink throughout the world. Drinking coconut water does not lead to any adverse affects and so far there is no negative report regarding this liquid. It is also believed to be safe for women to drink during pregnancy. Moreover, it is beneficial for infants and ailing alike.

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