“He who plants a coconut tree plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a home for himself and a heritage for his children”- South Seas saying
Also known as The Jewel of the Tropics, the coconut palm (Cocos Nucifera) is one of the ten most useful plants in the world and has great economic significance in the countries where it is grown. The water obtained from the coconut, especially from the tender and freshly plucked variety, is a powerhouse of nutrients and is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates and other health enhancing growth hormones.
How the coconut got its name?
Well, look at the picture and, what does it remind you of? In the fifteenth century Portuguese sailors found this fruit growing in plenty in the Tropical regions and, being unaware of this strange fruit, described it in their journals as Coco, which in their language means “grinning face” of a monkey because of the three dark holes on the top of the fruit that bears an uncanny resemblance to the face of a monkey. In Hawaii, the local name of the coconut is noelani which, when translated means “dew from the heavens”.
Origin and History:
Supposed to have initially originated from the islands of the South Pacific, the coconut palm has been cultivated for thousands of years. Being naturally buoyant, the coconut has the ability to float along on the high seas and gives root to a new coconut palm on the shore of the beach it finally gets washed ashore to. In the world, Philippines are possibly the largest producer of coconuts. In India, Kerala, also known as “The Land of the Coconut Palm” is famous for the coconut palm and fossils have been unearthed which goes to show that this fruit was native to Kerala for more than 15 million years!
- Thriving best in the Tropical regions of the world, the coconut palm needs warm climatic conditions for its successful growth and thrives best in sandy soil with a high level of salinity. Abundant sunlight, regular rainfall and high humidity are also some of the conditions for its growth.
Nutritional Properties of tender coconut water:
Packed with nutrients, the tender coconut water has become popular as a healthy and recuperative diet for medically ill patients, an excellent diet drink for sports persons and a supplement for pregnant as well as lactating mothers. Some of these nutrients and benefits of coconut water have been listed below.
Electrolytes: Tender coconut water is rich in electrolytes which closely resemble the electrolytes present in our body and which are essential for the proper functioning of our lungs, heart and muscles. Potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium are some of the electrolytes which help replace fluids in our body which are lost due to strenuous exercise, dehydration and during illness.
Zero additives: A natural source, coconut water is not adulterated and its sole ingredient is coconut water, which cannot be said of the numerous beverages in the market such as packed fruit juices, energy drinks and even fresh fruit juices, to which sugars and preservatives are added.
Low calorie and almost fat free: Containing a mere 46 calories per serving, coconut water has nil fats and Transfats as against sports drinks and sodas which contain substantial amount of transfats.
Vitamins: Highly rich in vitamins, it helps boost intra cellular functions, boosts immunity and helps in metabolism. Vitamin C helps strengthen our immunity system and vitamin B6, B2 (Riboflavin), B1 (Thiamin)and B9 (folate), help in breaking down foods and thus are a source of energy.
Natural Diuretic: Increases the output of urine, thus cleansing the body of toxic wastes.
Protein: Coconut water contains about 2g of protein per serving which helps in growth and repair of finger nails, hair, muscles and bones. It also assists in digestion.
Having a plethora of nutrients and being almost sugar free, fat free and low on cholesterol, the coconut water is a safe and healthy drink for people of all ages and also for patients recuperating from various illnesses.
Health Benefits of Coconut Water:
Coconut water is rich in nutrients and as it is obtained from a natural source, it has more health benefits than packaged beverages like energy drinks and sodas. Especially in India, it is not uncommon to see Coconut Bandis, or carts with fresh tender coconuts piled up, standing outside hospitals big and small. Doctors frequently recommend tender coconut water for most of their patients and most corporate hospitals include this elixir of life in their diet plan. Apart from hospitals, you can also come across these carts laden with coconuts at almost every nook and corner of most cities, especially in South India, and is also available at most outlets, fruit stalls, cool drink parlors, restaurants and even five star hotels.
According to Mr. Morton Satin, Chief of FAO’s agricultural Industries and post harvest management service, “Coconut water is a natural isotonic beverage with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood”.
Blood Plasma Substitute: The electrolyte profile of the tender coconut water is quite similar to human plasma and doctors have at times used coconut water as an intravenous solution and injected it directly into the blood stream of patients to prevent dehydration. This therapy was also used during World War II as an emergency plasma transfusion to administer to wounded soldiers.
Heart Tonic: Coconut water helps reduce plaque formation and improves circulation, thereby reducing the chances of heart attack and stroke.
Reduces High Blood Pressure: Potassium and magnesium which is present in coconut is effective in reducing high blood pressure.
Improves Blood Circulation: Complications arising from diabetes, like numbness in feet, kidney failure and loss of vision are a result of poor blood circulation. Coconut water helps to improve circulation, and helps to prevent occurrence of these complications.
Anti – ageing properties: Cytokines present in Coconut water have an anti ageing effect on human cells and tissues. Although the lifetime of cells does not change dramatically, the existing cells remain plumper and functionally active for a longer time.
Oral Re-Hydration: An excellent supplement to recharge your body when there is loss of fluid, especially during strenuous exercise, during bouts of illness like cholera, dysentery, influenza, jaundice and other ailments which cause dehydration.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Fresh coconut water is one of the oldest and natural remedy for curing urinary tract infection which is caused by bacterial infection in the urethra. Monolarium present in coconut water is an anti bacterial, anti fungal and antiviral monoglyceride, thus making it a perfect and natural cure for UTI.
Good for Infants: An herbal remedy for treatment of intestinal worms, coconut water is a safe method to get rid of these worms in infants.
Beauty Care using coconut water:
- Coconut water is good to use on oily skin as a light moisturizer. Add a cup of coconut water to your bath or add it to your shower gel. Coconut water can also be added to your conditioner to add an extra shine to your hair.
- Coconut water is an excellent cleansing and toning mask and aids in removal of blackheads and pimples.
Recently the whole world was rocked by the revelations of the scientific community of the disturbing facts of the serious health and dental problems that can be caused by consuming soft drinks. This prompted the use of natural alternatives and what best that can serve this purpose than the nutritious and refreshing coconut water? Today, with the efforts of the coconut development board, coconut water, also known as Elaneer in South India, is being sold through the numerous outlets which have cropped up in most places. For the less fortunate ones who do not have access to the water from the fruit directly including those who do not stay in tropical countries, this refreshing drink is available in tetra packs and cans, at the same time retaining their medicinal and nutritional values.
The health benefits of tender coconut water are vast and manifold. The demand for tender coconut water is spiraling and people are realizing the health benefits of this ‘Dew from heaven’ seriously, with people preferring natural and herbal remedies as against drugs.