Coconut Water: A New
By Bruce Fife, ND
the healthiest beverage you can drink? Fruit juice? Milk? Sports
drinks? Herbal tea? It may come as a surprise to you, but one of the
healthiest beverages is coconut water. Most people respond to this
statement with, “what the heck is coconut water?”
been to the grocery store, picked up a coconut, and shaken it,
right? The sloshing sound you hear inside is coconut water. Contrary
to popular belief, this liquid is not coconut milk. Coconut
milk is made by crushing and squeezing the liquid from coconut meat.
What you get is a thick, creamy, white fluid that looks much like
dairy milk. Coconut water, on the other hand, looks pretty much like
ordinary water, although it may be slightly cloudy due to the
vitamin and mineral content. The two are completely different in
taste, texture, nutrient content, and health benefits. Coconut water
is sometimes referred to as coconut juice and is consumed just like
any other fruit juice.
water has a slightly sweet, somewhat nutty taste. Surprisingly, it
doesn’t taste like coconut. It has a flavor all its own. Coconut
water has long been the most popular beverage consumed in the
tropics where it is considered not only a refreshing drink but a
water is a superfood filled with minerals, vitamins, antioxidants,
amino acids, enzymes, and growth factors. It is low in fat and has
only a fifth of the sugar found in most fresh fruit juices.
unique combination of nutrients gives it incredible health promoting
properties. Coconut water has a normalizing effect and gives the
body a boost of energy so that it can overcome a number of health
related conditions. It is effective in relieving dehydration,
fatigue, constipation and other digestive disturbances, kidney and
bladder disorders, and vision problems such as glaucoma and
cataract. It is reported to turn back time, so to speak, by
reversing or slowing down the aging process. Coconut water also has
an alkalizing effect on the body, helping to counteract or balance
the effects of acidifying foods which are so common in our diets.
Research shows that coconut water can improve blood circulation,
lower elevated blood pressure, and reduce risk of heart attacks and
strokes. Studies have been so impressive that the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) of the United States has approved coconut water
to carry the claim that it “may reduce the risk of high blood
pressure and stroke.”
the most remarkable characteristics of coconut water is its chemical
profile and mineral content. The primary minerals or electrolytes in
coconut water are essentially the same as those found in human
blood. For this reason, doctors have used it as an intravenous fluid
for rehydration, pumping it directly into the patient’s bloodstream.
Numerous studies dating back over 60 years document the successful
use of intravenous coconut water in the treatment of malnutrition
coconut water has a pleasant taste, it has also found use as an
effective oral rehydration beverage. Doctors have found it to be
highly useful in fighting dehydrating diseases such as chorea,
dysentery, and influenza where it has saved the lives of thousands
of children in underdeveloped parts of the world.
water’s similarity to body fluids and its usefulness as an
intravenous and oral rehydration fluid has spurred interest in the
sports community. With properties which are in many ways superior to
commercial sports drinks, coconut water is now becoming popular as a
natural rehydration beverage among athletes. In fact, it is
popularly known as “Nature’s Gatorade.”
water is available at most good health food stores and, as its
popularity continues to grow, is finding its way into many grocery
stores. It comes packaged in easy-to-carry cans, bottles, and tetra
paks. Tetra paks are the most convenient because you don’t have to
worry about them breaking. You can take them with you anywhere, even
when you workout, go camping or hiking, or go to the football game.
If you freeze them beforehand, they will stay cold for hours,
providing you will a cool, refreshing drink later in the day.
also get coconut water straight from a fresh coconut. You want to
make sure you get a “young” coconut. Young coconuts are those that
have not fully matured. The water in the mature brown, hairy
coconuts you see in the grocery store is too old and tastes much
different. Whole young coconuts are also sold in health food stores.
They look different from the mature brown coconuts. When a coconut
is harvested from the tree it is covered in a thick fibrous husk.
The husk is usually removed before being shipped to market, so you
never see the husk, just the brown shell. Young coconuts, however,
have only a portion of the husk cut off, leaving about an inch
covering the shell. The husk is white and often shaped like a large
toy top, with a point on one end and flat on the other. They are
perishable so you will find them in the refrigerated section of the
Bruce Fife is a certified nutritionist and naturopathic physician.
He is the author of 20 books including the recently released
Coconut Water for Health and Healing and serves and the director
of the Coconut Research Center,