By-Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.
Coconut water is the clear liquid found inside green, immature coconuts. Young coconuts are favoured for their water as it is tastier, plentiful in volume and easier to access by chopping the top off the softer shell. More mature coconuts have a harder husk and less water inside because it gradually solidifies to form the flesh. Different varieties of coconut yield slightly different-tasting water depending on where they are grown. (1)
Despite its recent explosion in popularity, coconut water has been consumed for centuries in tropical regions around the world. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, coconut water is believed to help digestion, urination, and even semen production. It has also traditionally been used to treat dehydration and given as ceremonial gifts throughout the tropics. While it may not be a miracle cure, it does have many health benefits. (2)
Health Benefits of Coconut Water
- Antioxidant Properties: Coconut water contains antioxidants that protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals.
- Diabetes: Research has shown that coconut water can lower blood sugar levels and improve other health markers. It is also a good source of magnesium, which may increase insulin sensitivity and decrease reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes.
- Kidney Stones: Drinking enough fluids is important for kidney stone prevention. Although plain water is a great choice, one study suggests that coconut water may be even better. Researchers believe that coconut water helped reduce free radical production that occurred in response to high oxalate levels in urine.
- Heart Health: Drinking coconut water may be helpful to reduce heart disease risk.Studies suggest that coconut water may have powerful cholesterol-lowering properties. (3)
- Weight-loss: The fat content in coconut water is extremely low. It also suppresses the appetite and makes you feel full because of its rich nature.
- Perfect Skin: 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.
- 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.
- Hydration: The ingredients in coconut water are way 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.
- 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.
- 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. (4)
During World War II, when there was a shortage of saline solution, coconut water was inserted intravenously, and it has been used successfully on a man in an emergency situation in the Solomon Islands when nothing else was available.
Coconut water is loaded with calcium and magnesium, which means it is not suitable for patients with kidney failure, severe burns, etc. Another problem is that it is much more acidic than human plasma. The bottom line is that coconut water is not identical to human plasma. Therefore, only in extreme situations would it be an acceptable substitution. (5)