By Bernice James
Do you break the coconut shell and pour the water away? Or do you break it and give to children? Or better still, say it is for women only? As some men believe: Only women take sweet or soft drinks. If you have been doing any of the above, you have been throwing away a quality natural food supplement. Make coconut water part of your drinks as it goes with a lot of health benefits.
Coconut plant belongs to the Arecaceae family of palm trees. It is botanically called cocos nucifera. As it is known that all the trees in the palm family is endowed with a wonder natural juice that gives life and good health. Rafia palm, palm and coconut palm, possess a type of juice that serves different purposes.
A coconut tree produces a bunch of nuts and each nut may contain about 200 to 1000ml of water depending on the specie and size. To get the quality taste and nutrient, the nut should not be plucked before five months. Again, the more mature, the less water a nut contains. Coconut waster is actually the juice present inside the interior cavity or endosperm of young tender coconut. Its water is one of nature’s most refreshing drinks consumed worldwide for its nutritious and health benefits. Most athletes consume it to stay hydrated and energized.
To get the water from the coconut, remove the exocarp and then, use a long hard metal to open the shell by piercing through the three eyes on the top and then, sip the water with straw or turn the whole nut upside down to empty the content into a bowl or cup. Moreso, you can break the shell through to the endosperm either at the top or at the end and then pour the water into a bowl. Coconut water is now sold in bottles in our local markets where coconuts are sold. You can buy them when they are still fresh and put in the refrigerator or used to make some herbal mixtures to treat certain illnesses. It is rich in calories, naturally cholesterol free, fat free; and contains more potassium than four bananas. Apart from the fact that it is naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet nutty taste which makes it better than some sugary drinks; meat. What a waste. Some after breaking coconuts it contains easily digested carbohydrate in the form of electrolytes.
Health benefits of coconut water
Coconut water is a very refreshing drink to beat tropical summer thirst. Its liquid is packed with simple sugars, electrolytes, and minerals to replenish dehydration conditions inside the human body.
Research studies suggest that cytokinins (e.g., kinetin and trans-zeatin) in coconut water is found to have significant anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic (anti-clot formation) effects.
Coconut water has been generally offered to patients with diarrhea in many tropical regions to replace the fluid lost from the gastrointestinal tract and to reduce the need for hospitalisation. The osmolarity of tender coconut water is slightly greater than that of WHO – recommended ORS (Oral Rehydration Therapy) solution. Presence of other biological constituents like amino acids, enzymes, minerals, and fatty acids may account for this higher osmolarity. Nonetheless, unlike WHO-ORS, its water is very low in sodium and chlorides, but rich in sugars and amino acids. This well-balanced fluid composition, along with much-needed calories, would be an ideal drink instead of any other kind of soft drink beverages available in the markets to correct dehydration conditions.
Coconut water is composed of many naturally occurring bioactive enzymes such as acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase, RNA-polymerases etc. In effect, these enzymes help in digestion and metabolism.
Despite being very light in consistency, its water proportionately has better composition of minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc than some of the fruit juices like oranges. Its liquid 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 the human body requires them from external sources to replenish.
Coconut water carries 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 electrolyte deficiency in the body due to diarrhea.
More benefits in taking coconut water
Coconut water is the ultimate thirst quencher and offers a tasty alternative to water. This pure liquid is packed with nutrients that yield an array of health benefits.
It treats stomach wind pains in babies
Recently, some mothers give their new born babies coconut water immediately after birth with the belief that it stops or minimizes wind pains in babies in the first few months of their existence. Before the baby takes anything like water or breast milk, one or two spoons of coconut water is given to him. That goes a long way to hand tummy wind pains.
It contains low fat
The fat content in coconut water is extremely low, so generous quantities can be consumed without the fear of immediately gaining much body weight. It also suppresses appetite and makes you feel full because of its rich nature.
It treats your skin
It gives your skin life, good colour and texture. For those with acne or other blemishes on the surface of the skin, topical application of coconut water can go a great distance as it has the ability to clear up and subsequently, tone the skin. It also moisturizes the skin from within if ingested orally and eliminates large amounts of oil. This explains why products such as facial creams, shampoos, conditioners and lotions that contain traces of coconut extract are more effective.
It handles constipation and hangover
Next time you overdo it and drink more than your belly can handle, consume coconut water to settle your stomach. It will also replace those essential electrolytes that exit the body if you experience bouts of frequent urination and vomiting.
It aids digestion
If you constantly encounter difficulty during the digestion process, coconut water may provide a source of relief. Because of its high concentration of fiber, it aids in the prevention of indigestion and reduces the occurrence of acid reflux.
Coconut water is a source of hydration
The ingredients in coconut water are more effective at hydrating the human body than those of sports and energy drinks. During rigorous exercise or extended periods of physical activity, the human body loses mineral-rich fluids. However, coconut water serves as an excellent replacement medium with 294 mg of potassium and 5 mg of natural sugar per glass, unlike your favorite sports drink that only contains half of the potassium content and five times the amount of processed sugar. In addition, the sodium count is only 25 mg, which is relatively low compared to the 41 and 20 mg found in sports drinks and energy drinks respectively.
Reduces Blood Pressure
In many instances, a disproportionate level of electrolytes can result in high blood pressure. Because coconut water contains an adequate supply of each, it can be used as a balancing mechanism. In some instances, it is recommended that coconut water be consumed at the start of each day to foster the balance of these electrolytes.
Rich in Nutrients
Unlike any other beverage on the market, coconut water contains five essential electrolytes that are present in the human body. These include: calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and sodium. Because of its unique composition, coconut water can be enjoyed by individuals with varying medical conditions.
Compatible with Human Blood
Since it is isotonic to human plasma, coconut water can be used in extreme emergencies to quickly rehydrate the human body if administered intravenously. It is not uncommon for the drink to be used in poorer, third-world countries to save human lives.
How Much Should You Consume?
Coconut water can be enjoyed as a stand-alone beverage or combined with another liquid product. There is no hard and fast rule regarding the amount that should be consumed on a daily basis but experts strongly suggest that you consider maintaining an active lifestyle by consuming large amounts of coconut water since each eight ounce is accompanied by 45 to 60 calories.
When searching for the perfect fresh coconut to enjoy, be sure to steer clear of those that have a hard brown shell as this is an indication that it is mature. Instead, look for those that are young and green on the exterior as they usually contain a large supply of the actual coconut water substance. To test it out, simply shake the coconut up and down to gauge how much liquid it contains.