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Updated: June 14, 2012 17:41 IST

Nutrition — in a nutshell

GEETA PADMANABHAN
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THE K FACTOR Coconut water is rich in potassium Photo: A. Roy Chowdhury
THE K FACTOR Coconut water is rich in potassium Photo: A. Roy Chowdhury

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?

NUTTY NOTES

* 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.

All thanks to Geetha Padmanabhan and the 'Hindu' for this useful Article on the
multifarious benefits one gets by drinking coconut water along with its tender
kernel (vazukkai] It caters to all the essential needs of the body, minerals, keeps
the BP under control good for digestion and above all, one feels refreshed by
drinking this natural elixir which is God'.s gift to mankind. It will be ideal to drink
it fresh from the nut but since this not possible to have in cold countries, bottled
drinks imported from Korea, Taiwan are available which is the next best
alternative. Children should be encouraged to drink this water instead of the
costly aerated water which is only gas-producing and not conducive to one's
health. This should be given wide publicity through media by Government and
other agencies and expenditure incurred on this account is certainly worthwhile

from:  TSSreenivasan
Posted on: Jun 2, 2012 at 16:52 IST

I remember once, an old coconut-seller quipping to me, "a drink that cannot be contaminated".
Real good drink!

from:  jayanthi
Posted on: Jun 1, 2012 at 14:35 IST

government should discourage aerated water based cool drinks ads

from:  madhusudanrao
Posted on: May 30, 2012 at 21:26 IST

According to Ayurvedic wisdom, Coconut water is nutritious and has cooling properties for a warm tropical climate where it grows naturally. However, food should be grown and consumed locally. When non seasonal food meant for a different climate is exported into another country it will not have the same benefits. "Blood" bananas are imported into the US from Latin American countries in the winter ! Secondly why is everything that nature provides for free being comoditized, modified and marketed - be it regular water or coconut water.

from:  Ashish
Posted on: May 29, 2012 at 18:55 IST

Young generation should understand the importance of drinking natural
way instead of going for coals.

from:  j n bhushan
Posted on: May 29, 2012 at 16:56 IST

The article is well written with much information on the future of
tender coconut industry for domestic consumption and export. No doubt
it is the finest drink provided by the nature and far superior to
artificial soft drinks available in the markets. The soft drinks have
popular in most countries due to its taste, flavour, ability to quench
thirst, cheapness in price and convenience in handling. But they
generally provide only sugar to body which leads obesity and health
problems. For diabetic people soft drink manufactures have developed
diet drinks with low or no calory. However, Tender coconut water never
makes a person obese and being a balanced drink with low sugar can be
enjoyed by diabetic people also in small amounts at times. The soft
meat of the tender coconut is highly nutritive and very tasty. The
main problem is that tender coconut with husk is heavy and keeping
quality poor unless refrigerated. People enjoy the drink more when the
nut is cut afresh than in bottles and tetra packs. Venders should be
encouraged to sell tender coconut and media popularize its value as a
health drink. Simultaneously assistance should be given to
entrepreneurs to packaged tender coconut water of our country.

from:  Dr. C. K. George
Posted on: May 29, 2012 at 11:53 IST

coconut water is nature's gift for us with no man made stuff in it. it
is pure,hygienic,healthy .cooling and is a natural tonic for healthy.
why to waste money and get unnecessary health problems by drinking all
sorts of artificial,colored drinks ?Think twice before you buy those
colored drinks and be wise in buying and enjoying the freshh natural
coconut water all in a nutshell

from:  SHEILA NATH
Posted on: May 29, 2012 at 11:40 IST

I love fresh coconut water!! :) :) :)

Anyone else for it ?

from:  debanshu
Posted on: May 29, 2012 at 07:43 IST

While it is well known about tender coconut's thirst quenching and mineral replenishing capabilities, its water has magical powers of dealing with de-hydration problems. I experienced it when I was suffering from loose motions and vomiting. A nut full of water and my digestive system was back to normal. It was like smooth running of an engine after oiling.

from:  Nachiketa Kulkarni
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 17:38 IST

Ilaneer is a meal bet.meals.It had been used as saline-glucose during
second world war.A man can survive by taking a coconut per day without
taking any other meals.

from:  Shankar Advocate Madurai
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 17:17 IST

Coconut water is the purest drink which contains so many useful salts to our body. In summer it is essential for our body. Especially for the patients and children. It contains minerals like potasium, sodium.
People must drink coconut water instead of drinks like pepsy, thums up
....etc. Now-a-days it is costier. People should grow coconut plants.

from:  laxmaiah bheemanathi
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 16:45 IST

Reminds me of the Soviet leaders Khruschev and Bulganin enjoying ilaneer sitting on the roadside in Kallar at the foothills of the Neelagiri mountains during their visit to India in 1955.

from:  mohansingh
Posted on: May 28, 2012 at 15:12 IST

Tender coconut water is the natures purest and nutritious drink.The immature kernel when blended with coconut water adds further minerals,vitamins and essential fatty acids to the drink.It is better to drink directly from the cut tender nut,But now coconut water in tetra packs is available.There are Yellow Dwarf varieties for water and tender kernel alone.In Chennai it costs Rs 20-30 per nut,but worth its cost to drink during summer when body requires potassium.I have tasted blended coconut water with taste of mint / cardamom/ cumin etc all natural.The Central Plantation Coconut Research Institute at Kasargode has identified coconut varieties for water purpose.

from:  Dr K V Peter
Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 18:51 IST
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