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Coconut Water and Health

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Generality

Coconut water is the juice found in the internal cavity (endosperm) of healthy, undamaged green coconuts.

Coconuts reach their maximum water content (up to one litre) around 7 months of age.

Coconut palms thrive in tropical environments and coastal areas.

A coconut tree is capable of producing several hundred nuts each season. Naturally, the taste of the pulp and the water they contain show notable variations based on the cultivar, the salt content of the soil, the distance from the sea shore, the climate, etc.

Nutritional Composition per 100g of “Coconut Water”

Nutritional values ​​(per 100 g of edible portion)

Chemical composition Value per 100g
Edible part 100%
Water 95.0g
Proteins 0,7g
Total lipids 0,2g
Saturated fatty acids 0,18g
Monounsaturated fatty acids 0.01g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 0.00g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Available carbohydrates 3.7g
Starch 1,1g
Soluble sugars 2.6g
Total fibre 1,1g
Soluble fiber – g
Insoluble fiber – g
Phytic Acid 0.0g
Alcohol 0.0g
Energy 19,0kcal
Sodium 105.0 mg
Potassium 250.0 mg
Ferro 0,3mg
Soccer 24.0 mg
Phosphorus 20.0 mg
Magnesium 25.0 mg
Zinc 0,1mg
Copper 0,7mg
Selenium 1,0µg
Thiamin 0,03mg
Riboflavin 0,06mg
Niacin 0.08 mg
Vitamin A retinol eq. 0,0µg
Vitamin C 2,4mg
Vitamin E 0.0 mg

Coconut water is one of the most refreshing drinks known in nature (therefore not man-made).

It is widely consumed throughout the tropical belt, thanks to its thirst-quenching properties given to it by its notable potassium content.

Notes on Chemical Composition

100ml of coconut water provides 15-20kcal/100g and the dry residue barely reaches 10% of the RDA (average value).

In particular – despite what was declared by the companies that market jarred coconut water – the intake of minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium) and vitamins (group B and C), in a 100ml portion , is not particularly significant.
Coconut water is clear and sweet, sterile and composed of some chemical substances, such as: sugars, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes, amino acids, cytokines and phytohormones, all present in rather small concentrations.

For more information on the nutritional characteristics of coconut water, read the article: Coconut Water and Nutrition.

Compared to green ones, rich in liquid, mature coconuts contain much less water and a thicker endosperm; the latter is the edible portion of the fruit, rich in lipids.

Medicinal Uses

Coconut water has been, albeit rarely, used as a fluid for intravenous rehydration when medical-grade hydrosaline mixtures were not available.
The composition of coconut water is vaguely similar to that of human blood plasma. During World War II, when medical supplies were extremely limited, many wounded of Japanese and English origin were injected with coconut water; the number of survivors is unknown.
Obviously, this rehydration technique was only used for short-term emergency situations, in remote locations where plasma is almost never available.
Although today, from a medical point of view, it is absolutely inadvisable to replace saline solutions with coconut water, during the “Khmer Rouge” regime in Cambodia (1975-1979), it was a common practice. On the other hand, the “Documentation Center of Cambodia” calls allowing trained nurses to administer green coconut water “a crime against humanity.”
In folk medicine, coconut water was used as a treatment for diarrhea.

Is Too Much Coconut Water Bad for You?

Some anecdotal sources describe the archaic use of coconut water for the senicide of the elderly in India, a procedure known as “thalaikoothal”. This custom involved the administration of an excessive quantity of coconut water to the victims who, after the fever rose, died.
The causes of this reaction are not well determined. A fairly reliable hypothesis is that of excess potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia) which, by inducing acute renal failure, causes cardiac arrhythmia, loss of consciousness and finally death. It is rare for a similar event to occur in a young person, since the kidneys are generally capable of filtering high concentrations of potassium. For already compromised kidneys, however, it is possible that the reaction is different.
The only known case of hyperkalemia and loss of consciousness, which occurred following the consumption of several liters of coconut water, highlighted the association of the latter food with a food supplement for sports.
Coconut water is a drink universally recognized as “safe”. At normal portions (250-350ml) no adverse reactions of any kind are known, therefore there is no negative notification. Being sterile (if extracted from a healthy coconut), it is also considered safe during pregnancy, breastfeeding, for children (after weaning) and in pathological conditions with prior medical consent.

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