Coconut water : Drink your way to good health

As India continues to reel under the onset of summer, a lot of people would look to fresh juices, aerated drinks, processed fruit drinks and water. But the ultimate cure for heat lies much higher above the ground and is available in plenty in the country hanging on top of a coconut tree.

The humble coconut is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos.[2] The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which, botanically, is a drupe, not a nut. The spelling cocoanut is an archaic form of the word. The term is derived from the 16th-century Portuguese and Spanish word coco meaning “head” or “skull”, from the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features. (Source:Wikipedia)

The origins of this wonder drupe is a matter of debate, some researchers says it originated in the Americas, while others feel it originated closer to Asia, probably in the regions surrounding the pacific, India and Australia.

India is the third largest producer of coconut in the world, after the Philippines and Indonesia with production around 20 billion coconuts a year, with the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu leading production. Coconut is used extensively in the Indian culture, in festivals, during religious occasions,

Now on world health day I want to dissect this wonder drupe and look at the nutritional features of coconut water. Though many parts of the coconut can be consumed, this piece just looks at the water consumed from green coconuts.

It has fewer calories, less sodium, and more potassium than a sports drink. Around 30 ml of unflavored coconut water contains 5.45 calories, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 milligrams (mg) of potassium, and 5.45 mg of sodium compared to sports drinks, which on an average have 6.25 calories, 1.75 grams of sugar, 3.75 mg of potassium, and 13.75 mg of sodium. (Source: WebMD)

Coconut water is low in calories, naturally fat- and cholesterol free, more potassium than some of the other fruits like bananas so that makes it a great alternative to sports drinks. As a matter of fact professional tennis player John Isner used coconut water extensively to keep hydrated during his marathon match with Nicholas Mahut at Wimbledon 2010. Coconut water kept him hydrated throughout the match while replacing the electrolytes. He still uses coconut water as part of his regimen. So all of those reading and planning to hit the gym, add coconut water to your diet regime.

Another interesting function of coconut water is that its consumption can aid in improving cardiovascular health. Essentially coconut water reduces the blood pressure, helps improve the blood flow, reducing chances of cardiac arrest. Most of this property comes from the presence of potassium in the coconut water. A 100 ml of coconut water would contain around 290 mg% of pptassium according to research published in the coconut board of India website. To know more the nutrient content of the coconut water, visit this website.

Coconut water also aids digestion through its fiber content that is almost 9 % of the water. In addition to digestion, metabolism also gets boosts due to the presence of Manganese. Great to have this water early in the morning and that keeps you active through the day.

Medically there have been instances where coconut water has been used. During World War II coconut water was used as a supplement of blood Plasma, given to Japanese and British soldiers. Was also used in Cambodia during the reign of Khymer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. But it is not recommended under normal circumstances. Some historical records show that coconut water has been used to cure Diarrhea & Kidney Stones. But again I would defer that suggestion to a qualified physician.

In conclusion on this world health day, I want to conclude that what we eat pretty much determines how we feel. It is important to recognize the importance of nourishing natural foods that are found around us. Coconut water is one of them. While consuming coconut water one could also consider packaged coconut water. One such product that I have tried is Cocojal. But it is best to drink fresh from the green coconut. Many vendors also parcel the coconut in a way that you can take a few home and scale the cover with the kitchen knife.

Do enjoy the water and once again have a healthy day.

Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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