The Hawaiians refer to coconut water as “dew from the heavens,” because of coconut water health benefits. Coconuts are classified as a fibrous one-seeded drupe, which is a fruit with a hard, stony covering. Coconut water is dissimilar from coconut milk, in that coconut water comes from the liquid inside a young, green coconut, while coconut milk is produced from the meat of a mature, ripe coconut. Coconut water has been used not only as a source of food, but also as a medicine. During World War II and the Vietnam War, doctors used coconut water in intravenous IV solutions, when traditional water supplies were low, and doctors realized coconut water benefits included electrolyte replacement. The American market for coconut water has grown tremendously since its introduction and manufacturers are offering various types of products that contain coconut water nutrition, such as sports drinks, fruit juices, yogurts and sorbets.
Coconut water benefits and coconut water nutrition are numerous due to the amount of essential nutrients it contains, which include vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids, antioxidants, enzymes and growth hormones; because coconuts grow near the sea, they have continual access to mineral-rich salt water supplies, which enables them to absorb the water through their root systems. This makes coconut water a rich source of major minerals, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, in addition to the trace elements iodine, zinc, sulfur, selenium, sulfur, manganese, boron and molybdenum. One of the main coconut water health benefits comes from its electrolyte content and explains coconut water benefits associated with its use as a popular sports drink. Coconut water has relatively no fat content and is comparatively lower in sugar than other fruit juices. It contains a fifth of the sugar content that other fruits do, yet has a mildly sweet taste. Coconut water does, however, contain high amounts of sodium.
Coconut Water: Is it Really “Nature’s” Sport Drink”?: Kaplan University provides basic nutrition information of coconut water and discusses its comparison to popular sports drinks.
Coconut Water Nutrition Facts: A full nutritional factsheet of coconut water from the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Health Encyclopedia.
Is a Coconut a Fruit, Nut or Seed?: The Library of Congress discusses the classification of coconuts and provides interesting historical facts regarding their use and species.
A Profile of a Coconut, A Real Tree of Life: A PDF newsletter from the Student Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, which offers a description of a coconut’s characteristics on page 3.
Popularity of Coconut Water
Although coconut water has always been a prevalent drink in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean due to coconut water nutrition, its popularity in the United States didn’t begin until approximately 2008; however, today, it’s not only a familiar American beverage, its sales are exploding. According to statistics by Beverage World, coconut water is one of the fastest growing beverages in the U.S., with sales increasing each year since its introduction by millions of dollars. As indicated by data from Beverage World, Vita Coco Coconut Water experienced an increase in sales from $4 million in 2007 to $20 million in 2009.
Additionally, from 2008 to 2009 coconut water sales increased by more than 200 percent from 2008 to 2009 for another popular distributor, and sales doubled each year since launching the product. Initially, coconut water products were primarily offered in specialty health stores. However, it’s now being widely offered in traditional supermarkets and promoted heavily by most major retail stores. Coconut water’s popularity has been attributed to an increase in the American consumer’s interest in healthy living because of coconut water health benefits, and also due to the American obsession to have the latest and greatest. The most popular brands of coconut water include Vita Coco Coconut Water, Zico Pure Coconut Water, Naked Coconut Water and c2o Coconut Water.
Coconut Water: Health or Hype?: The American Institute for Cancer Research discusses the relevance of coconut water and whether its popularity is based on solid nutritional content and health benefits or creative marketing.
Things Go Better with Coconuts: A thesis report from a student at Northern Arizona University, which includes an explanation of a growth in coconut water use in the Pacific Islands due to nutritional concerns in the region.
Retailers’ Shelves Make Room for Coconut Water: National Public Radio NPR provides a transcript of an interview conducted about the marketing of coconut water with the founder of Zico, a well-known distributor of the product.
How Did Coconut Water Become the Trendy New Miracle Beverage?: A PDF document that describes the evolution of coconut water into a trendy American beverage and compares the three most popular brands.
Health Benefits of Coconut Water
Coconut water health benefits include increasing rehydration, boosting the immune system, decreasing heat stroke, increasing blood circulation in diabetics and anti-aging treatments. Coconut water nutrition comes from the fact that it’s a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Primary coconut water benefits are its ability to rehydrate the body following exercise if consumed during rigorous exercise due to the essential electrolytes it contains. Although it’s been referred to as “nature’s Gatorade,” in comparison to popular sports drinks, it’s 100 percent natural, has 15 times more electrolytes and is low in calories. It’s used successfully in treating and relieving symptoms of heat stroke because it enables the recipient to receive coconut water benefits quickly as it’s absorbed into the bloodstream. Because of coconut water health benefits and its ability to rapidly rehydrate, it is also demonstrated to be effective in remedying influenza, dysentery, cholera and other infectious diseases that require hydration.
Research continues to discover additional coconut water benefits, such as therapeutic advantages related to healing urinary systems and bladder infections, enhancing reproduction and sexual vitality, dissolving kidney stones, strengthening the heart, decreasing incidence of stroke, lowering blood pressure, improving blood circulation for diabetics and promoting anti-aging benefits as related to age spots, wrinkles and sagging skin. Coconut water benefits related to anti-aging are due to its content of plant growth hormones, called cytokinins, which regulated growth, development and aging of human tissues and cells. This finding led to research funded by The American Cancer Society regarding coconut water benefits related to cancer. Although the research is still in its preliminary stages, scientists from the 1950s have documented the success of cytokinins in preventing cancer from growing and spreading.
Coconut Clinic: The Coconut Republic offers a comprehensive list of the health-related benefits of coconut water, in addition to coconut oil and coconut meat.
Can Coconut Water Mimic Human Plasma?: The University of Florida’s Health Science Center offers a concise article about coconut water, as well as a link to a podcast in which health authorities at the university discuss whether or not coconut water has the ability to mimic human plasma.
Young Coconut Water: The students and Westminster College officer a succinct description of the health benefits coconut water provides, in addition to a video that illustrates how to open a young coconut.
Coconut Water: Dew from the Heavens: The Coconut Research Center provides a thorough description of coconut water’s benefits to health and various diseases.
Harvesting and Processing of Coconut Water
Coconuts are harvested when they are approximately seven months old. While coconut water can be extracted by simply poking holes in the “eyes” located on the side and pouring the liquid out, it only remains fresh and retains its coconut water health benefits for approximately three weeks. In order to retain its vitamin and mineral content and extend its shelf life, coconut water is processed by microfiltration, pasteurization or sterilization or by using a combination of these methods. Because bacteria and various types of yeasts are of concern with coconut water, it must be cooled rapidly after the extraction process, and bottled and sealed as quickly as possible.
How to Bottle Coconut Water: An explanation of how coconut water is extracted, purified and bottled, provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ FAOs’ Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department.
Conservation of Traditional Coconut Varieties: The Land Resources Division of the South Pacific discusses conservation issues that are of concern with regard to harvesting coconuts from the region.
Processing of Coconut Water with High Pressure Carbon Dioxide Technology: A PDF graduate dissertation of the characteristics and composition of coconut water, in addition to the methods used to process it and formulate it into a beverage.
Traditional Versus Intensive Coconut Production in North Sulawesi: A PDF document from the faculty of agriculture at Sam Ratulangi University that assesses the differences between traditional and intensive harvesting and processing methods of coconuts, as well as the economic impacts on coconut farms in North Sulawesi.