It's described as Nature's energiser, thirst-quencher and even life enhancer! If that’s not enough tender coconut water has many health benefits
Huffington Post reports that tender coconut water — packed, of course — is America's latest health craze. The marketing strategy, it says, has been to dub the drink as “nature's sports drink” and “life enhancer”. And it has hit its mark with celebrities who have “replaced their acai berry drinks and Kabbalah water” with cartons of coconut water. Vita Coco and Zico are the major sellers, says the report, adding, “as fads go… the U.S. coconut water industry went from zero to $35 million.” It then asks: But with a price tag of $2-3 for a typical 11 fl. ounce pack (about 10 sips), is it really worth paying top dollar for, well, top water?”
Ilaneer has climbed to similar price levels after the Thane havoc in coastal Tamil Nadu. But sellers aren't complaining about stocks going waste. That is because we have always known of ilaneer's thirst-quenching, energy-restoring abilities.
“Coconut water is full of electrolytes,” says Nirmala Jesudasan, consultant dietician, Cherian Heart Foundation. “It's helps replenish body salts after sweating, and is good support material for nutrition. There are records of people surviving only on coconut water for days.” Dieters must love it. “It has little sugar, little cholesterol and no fat,” she says.
Packed with potassium
What makes the drink a star is its K factor. You eat fruits and veggies to get your potassium, while a glass of coconut water has 569 mg of this mineral — which is almost twice the amount in a banana. Potassium tends to regulate blood pressure by counteracting the stimulating effects of sodium, of which it contains only 160 mg. This in turn helps to prevent problems like stroke, heart attack and hangovers. Compare this to 14 fl. oz. of a standard sports drink, which contains 52.5 mg of potassium and 192.5 mg of sodium. So we have no quarrel with the ad blitz calling coconut water Mother Nature's answer to dehydration.
Health on a budget.com claims coconut water is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. “A 2008 research study showed that coconut water contains peptides (small proteins) that can kill bacteria. It helps relieve stomach upsets, protects against ulcer-causing bacteria H. pylori.” Its answers for “why coconut water?” include ilaneer's ability to dissolve kidney stones, bring stress relief (small amounts of B vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B-6 and folate play a crucial role in lowering anxiety, depression and stress), hangover relief, weight loss (naturally isotonic, increases metabolism) and detoxification.
Chinemere Onuekwusi of Yahoo! Contributor Network believes coconut water stops all kinds of adverse drug reactions. Its sodium+potassium+magnesium composition makes it a good substitute for saline-glucose, he writes. Coconut water is germ-free (pyrogen free: a substance that causes fever). It has been found very useful for natural oral re-hydration therapy (ORT). “It is on record that coconut water if taken during feverish conditions reduces fever,” he says. “It is also known to calm nervous and emotional imbalances. Taking coconut water regularly aids in flushing the liver, since it contains lauric acid that has anti-microbial properties.”
“Over-hyped”, say some. You can get some of these benefits from other fruits and vegetables, they argue. Liz Applegate, Director, Sports Nutrition at UC-Davis isn't sold on coconut water as a post-exercise drink. Its high-potassium-low-sodium combo isn't ideal, she said. “When you sweat, you lose a lot more sodium than potassium.” Plain water does the job just as well, notes Samir Zakhari, Ph.D., Director, Division of Metabolism and Health Effects, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The kidneys preserve electrolytes when we drink, so there's no need to replace the electrolytes with coconut water. Also, there's no scientific evidence that coconut water has anti-aging and kidney health properties. Nor will it cure cancer and hypertension. “If you have a kidney problem, consult a doctor about ilaneer intake,” said Dr. Nirmala. “And there is no truth in the belief that it improves skin texture.”
But you really can't equate coconut water to plain water. Coconut water contains several antioxidants and essential minerals. When you drink it fresh from the tender coconut, you avoid the added sugar in sports drinks or soda. It beats that fake-coloured, fake-sugar drinks any day. Water is fine, but letting some cool coconut water drip down your shirt-front on a hot day is heavenly, isn't it?
* Diets high in potassium can help lower blood pressure and promote heart health, according to the American Dietetic Association.
* Coconut water is a good source of potassium, but get it from whole foods such as veggies (spinach, sweet potatoes) and low fat milk as well. They supply fibre and vitamin D.
* Coconut water contains cytokinins, plant hormones shown to slow the aging process in plants and fruit flies, according to a study in Molecules. The benefits aren't yet proven in humans.
* Drink directly from the coconut.