Coconut water is a popular beverage now in Ghana with huge economic potential. It is dubbed “Mother Nature’s sports drink,” according to a WebMed article authored by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD . Its Low in calories, naturally free of fat and cholesterol , more potassium than four bananas, and super hydrating -- these are just a few of the many benefits ascribed to Ghana’s latest health craze: coconut water. No doubt there is a proposal for coconut sellers to wear special uniforms and also contribute to SSNIT. Ghana's coconut industry, according to organisers of the 2019 International Coconut Festival held in Accra, has a potential of earning the country 2.8 billion dollars worth of revenue annually. In 2017, Ghana was ranked 14th on the list of the world's top coconut producers, with 383,960 metric tonnes produced that year alone according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Corporate Statistical Database.
Dubbed "Mother Nature’s sports drink" by marketers, the demand is skyrocketing every corner in Ghana. There’s no doubt that a tall glass of pure, organic coconut water is one of the most refreshing beverages you can enjoy, whether it’s after a workout or simply to quench your thirst during a hot summer day.
In this article, you can learn more about coconut water, including its composition, where it comes from, its uses and benefits, and why it has become one of the most sought-after health beverages today.
What Is Coconut Water?
The scientific name for coconut water is “coconut liquid endosperm” according to the Molecules 2009, 14, 5144-5164 — that is the clear liquid in the center of young, green coconuts and is made when the endosperm tissues of a coconut fruit go through nuclear mode of development, as described below in a Molecules journal 2009 study:
“[T]he primary endosperm nucleus undergoes several cycles of division without cytokinesis (the process in which the cytoplasm of a single eukaryotic cell is divided to form two daughter cells). Cytokinesis then occurs, progressing from the periphery towards the center, thus forming the cellular endosperm layer.
At first, the cellular endosperm is translucent and jelly-like, but it later hardens at maturity to become white flesh (coconut meat). Unlike the endosperms of other plants (e.g., wheat and corn), the cellularization process in a coconut fruit does not fill up the entire embryo sac cavity, but instead leaves the cavity solution-filled.”
The “solution” decribed above is coconut water. It’s described by WebMD, "The Truth About Coconut Water" as having a refreshing and nutty flavor. It’s mildly sweet, but not overly so, unlike other fruit juices available on the market. "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," 2010 also described it as a astringent and mildly acidic when fresh, which is then lost as time goes by.
Today, Ghanaians are enjoying coconut water not just for its flavor, but also because of its superb health benefits. Coconut water is 95% water according to "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods," 2010 but, at the same time, it offers a unique chemical composition that features vitamins, minerals, amino acids, natural sugars and phytohormones according to the Molecules 2009, 14, 5144-5164 .
It contains electrolyte, very good ingredient . the liquid an ideal rehydrating drink, but the electrolytes in coconut water are also said to be similar to human plasma, which is why doctors have used uncontaminated raw coconut water intravenously, injecting it into the bloodstream to help avoid dehydration according to Naturopathic Doctor’s Coconut Cure by Bruce Fife
Coconut Milk Versus Coconut Water
According to Dr. Mercola, Many people, usually those who are not accustomed to having coconut in their diet, often refer to coconut water and coconut milk interchangeably. But these two drinks are actually different. Coconut water is the raw, clear liquid — which develops naturally in the fruit — that you get when you open a fresh coconut.
Coconut milk is a manufactured product made by grating the coconut meat, adding water and squeezing out the juice. This results in a white and creamy liquid, not too different from dairy milk according to "Coconut Water for Health and Healing," 2017 by Bruce Fife. It is used in many ingredients, such as curry and sauces.
Health Benefits of Coconut Water
Drinking coconut water is something everyone should do as a form of clean water. Not only is it one of the best rehydration drinks available on the planet, the electrolytes and natural salts like potassium and magnesium plays an integral role in wellness, however, coconut water provides more nutrients that are beneficial to the body. Among these useful components are its cytokinins, a class of phytohormones that boast of antiaging, antithrombotic and anticarcinogenic effects, according to one study by Vermeulen K et al 2002 titled ‘Antiproliferative effect of plant cytokinin analogues with an inhibitory activity on cyclin-dependent kinases published in the journal Leukemia and another 1994 study also conducted by Rattan SI and Clark BF titled ‘Kinetin delays the onset of ageing characteristics in human fibroblasts’ published in the journal Biochemical Biophysical Research Commununication. .
This liquid provides inorganic ions, B vitamins and minerals such as iodine, selenium , zinc and sulfur that all provide support for your antioxidant and overall system according to the Molecules 2009, 14, 5144-5164
Coconut Water Nutrition Facts
The liquid inside the coconut contains approximately 46 calories per cup, 10 grams of natural sugar, with little protein and zero fat. It contains multiple vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are ideal for human health according to Nutrition and You.com.
The primary nutrient in coconut water is potassium . It contains approximately 600 milligrams (12 percent daily value), making it a high electrolyte beverage. Coconut water also contains a small amount of sodium, about 40 milligrams and up to 10 percent of your daily calcium and magnesium needs according to Today’s Dietitician.com
Electrolytes are critical to maintain blood volume, heart health, as well as to prevent dehydration. Maintaining electrolyte levels can help reduce fatigue, stress and help maintain muscle relaxation.
Scientific Studies on Coconut Water:
- Provides cardioprotective effects — A 2003 animal study by P. Anurag and T. Rajamohan titled Cardioprotective effect of tender coconut water in experimental myocardial infarction published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition found that tender coconut water (TCW) may have cardioprotective effects as it helped decrease concentration of total cholesterol, VLDL + LDL− cholesterol and HDL cholesterol among rats that had induced myocardial infarction. The researchers noted that these benefits may come from the nutrients in the liquid, namely calcium, potassium, L-arginine and magnesium.
- May help boost kidney health — Coconut water may reduce the risk of kidney stones. In a 2013 study by Gandhi M et al titled ‘Prophylactic effect of coconut water (Cocos nucifera L.) on ethylene glycol induced nephrocalcinosis in male wistar rat’ published in the International Brazil Journal of Urology. Coconut water helped inhibit crystal deposits in renal tissues of rat subjects. It reduced the amount of crystals in their urine, as well. What’s more, the researchers noted that this liquid “protected against impaired renal function and development of oxidative stress in the kidneys.” They noted that it can be used for phytotherapy against urolithiasis. In 2018 studies by Kristina L titled Increasing Fluid Intake to Reduce Stone Recurrence Risk: Is More Technology Better? Published in The Journal Of Urology , coconut water intake helped expel excess potassium, citrate, and chlorine from the body. This can cut down the risk of kidney stones. In addition to eliminating kidney stones, coconut water also cures bladder infections according to a 2017 study by J. N. Rukmini et al titled Antibacterial Efficacy of Tender Coconut Water (Cocos nucifera L) on Streptococcus mutans: An In-Vitro Study published in the Journal of International Society Prev Community Dent.This can be attributed to the antibacterial properties of coconut water
- May help in the management of diabetes — Coconut water was found to have hypoglycemic and nephroprotective activities. Results of a 2015 study by Pinto et al titled Study of Antiglycation, Hypoglycemic, and Nephroprotective Activities of the Green Dwarf Variety Coconut Water (Cocos nucifera L.) in Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Rats published in the Journal of Medicinal Food revealed that rats given coconut water had better blood glucose maintenance compared to rats in the control group. According to the researchers:
“Our results indicate that CW has multiple beneficial effects in diabetic rats for preventing hyperglycemia and oxidative stress caused by alloxan.” A separate 2015 study by Preetha et al titled Mature coconut water exhibits antidiabetic and antithrombotic potential via L-arginine-nitric oxide pathway in alloxan induced diabetic rats published in the Journal of Basic Clinical Physiology Pharmacology. also noted that the L-arginine in coconut water is responsible for its antidiabetic and antithrombotic effects, and is mediated through the L-arginine-nitric oxide pathway. Diabetic rats that were treated with mature coconut water L-arginine had reduced concentration of blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c.
- Offers rehydrating effects after exercise — A 2007 study by Ismail titled Rehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration published in the Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine Public Health. Compared the rehydrating effects of water, coconut water and a sports drink. The authors noted that drinking coconut water is “as good as ingesting a commercial sports drink for whole body rehydration after exercise-induced dehydration but with better fluid tolerance” Even the World Health Organization recommends coconut water for treating dehydration – especially in cases of acute diarrhea https://www.sciencedirect.com/ There is no direct relationship between coconut water and psoriasis. But coconut water can prevent dehydration, which can make your skin more vulnerable to issues like psoriasis (as dehydration prevents your body from eliminating toxins through your skin according to 2017 article by a staff writer at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Coconut water is a healthy beverage. Most of its benefits are proven. Some aren’t. But that doesn’t have to stop you from consuming it, especially when it has an impressive nutritional profile.
- Might Help Cure Hangovers: There is less research on this too. Your body loses potassium when you consume excess alcohol according to https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002041.htm Coconut water helps replenish this electrolyte and might cure the horrible hangovers that usually follow.
- May protect against oxidative stress — Coconut water is loaded with antioxidants that are known to help fight free radicals that may lead to oxidative damage. One study conducted by Manna et al 2014 titled Protective effect of coconut water concentrate and its active component shikimic acid against hydroperoxide mediated oxidative stress through suppression of NF-κB and activation of Nrf2 pathway published in the Journal Ethnopharmacolology. found that shikimic acid (SA), an active phytoconstituent in coconut water, can help protect the liver cells of mice subjects, protecting them from hydroperoxide-mediated oxidative stress
- May help maintain healthy blood pressure levels — A study by Alleyne et al 2005 titled The control of hypertension by use of coconut water and mauby: two tropical food drinks published in the West Indian Medical Journal involving 28 hypertensive subjects looked at the potential effects of coconut water on blood pressure levels. Those who were given coconut water had significant decreases in their mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The high levels of potassium in coconut water may be a contributing factor to this benefit as well. Another 1998 study by Sacks et al titled Effect on blood pressure of potassium, calcium, and magnesium in women with low habitual intake published in the Hypertension journal notes that this mineral has a “modest blood pressure-lowering effect.”
- May help maintain bone and teeth health, as well as muscle strength — MedicalNewsToday notes that coconut water contains calcium, which is needed by your bones and teeth for repair, as well as magnesium, which not only brings potassium and calcium into the muscles for contraction and relaxation, but also helps with energy production and better organ function.
- May Be Useful For Blood Transfusions: Coconut water can be used intravenously. When extracted fresh from the fruit, the liquid is sterile and free of parasites, bacteria and germs. During the Vietnam War and World War II, it was infused into the bloodstream of patients whenever doctors had an insufficient supply of IV fluids. It’s said to be similar in composition to human blood plasma. The intravenous use of coconut water is well documented. In a study by Campbell-Falck D et al 2000 titled The intravenous use of coconut water published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine., coconut water was used as a short-term intravenous hydration fluid for a patient from the Solomon Islands. Coconut water may mimic blood plasma. However, this effect may not last long. This is because of its sodium content – which is not high enough to stay in the bloodstream for long according to UFHealth Podacst. Also, the infusion of coconut water may cause the potassium levels to go up.
- Might Strengthen Bones: Coconut water is a good source of calcium to the Columbia University Medical Center. Hence, it may promote bone health.
- Cleansing / Detox : Our bodies have an amazing natural ability to cleanse and detox on their own, if provided the correct nutrients and hydration. Inadequate hydration leads to the build-up of toxins in our bodies because the liver and kidneys, the detoxifying organs, are unable to function properly without adequate water. Dehydration resulting from water or electrolyte loss leads to fatigue, irritability, confusion and extreme thirst. These symptoms result from the inability for the kidney to adequately flush toxins out of the system. Adequate fluid intake, ideally 8–10 cups per day, can help prevent dehydration and maintain the body’s natural detoxification ability. Although water is great, during very hot weather or strenuous exercise, more than just plain water may be necessary. Coconut water contains a similar electrolyte profile to human blood, making it an ideal beverage to replace fluids and help remove toxins from the body. The electrolyte potassium, specifically, can help counteract some of the negative effects of a high-sodium processed diet.
Do You Want to Drink Coconut water?
Aside from the benefits mentioned above, you’ll be impressed to learn that this healthy beverage has culinary and cosmetic uses as well. Just like coconut milk and coconut oil , it’s a very versatile product. Just take a look at these coconut water uses that you can try today:
- Hair Health — Simply massage raw coconut water into your hair and comb through. Let dry under the sun, and then leave on for a few hours. Wash out afterward according to Aromatherapy for Sensual Living: Essential Oils for the Ecstatic Soul," 2015
- After-Shampoo Treatment — Style Craze 2018 recommends diluting the coconut water with three to four mugs of tap water, and then using it as your final rinse to add shine to your hair.
- Skin Benefits — If your skin is feeling taut and grimy, apply coconut milk squeezed from the grated pulp to your skin directly to cleanse and eliminate excess oil and dirt. This also gives it instant hydration according to the "Age Erase: Your Ultimate Beauty Bible to Ageing Gracefully," 2014 . Coconut water has antibacterial properties, thanks to the lauric acid present in it according to Rukmini et al 2017 . These properties might help treat acne. Lauric acid was also found to exert the strongest bactericidal activity against P. acnes, the bacteria that promotes inflammatory acne according to Yang D et al 2009 titled The antimicrobial activity of liposomal lauric acids against Propionibacterium acnes published in the journal Biomaterials.
- Digestive Issues — The potassium in coconut water may help with poor digestion. If you’re suffering from constipation, coconut water and prunes can be mixed together to make an anticonstipation drink. Simply get a glass of hot water and soak the prunes in it for 10 minutes. Once soft, drain the water, allow the prunes to cool and then puree together with coconut water in a blender according to the Coconut Water for Health and Healing," 2017
- Culinary Uses — Coconut water is delicious when ingested fresh from the fruit, but if you’d like to add variety to some of your other dishes, try replacing other fluids with this ingredient. From coconut water smoothies to vinaigrettes and even ceviche, it can have a plethora of uses in the kitchen.
- As the coconut matures, the liquid is replaced with coconut “meat.” The greatest nutrient health benefits of coconut water comes from drinking the water of the young coconut, not the mature coconut milk, which is generally lower in nutrients.
- In certain emergency situations, it has been used for IV hydration due to its high electrolyte content and the fact that it’s sterile if used directly from the inside of the coconut
- Reduce Stress and Muscle Tension: It’s almost as good as a massage! Some of the electrolytes found in coconut water, specifically calcium and magnesium, may help with stress and muscle tension. Many of us are missing these critical minerals in our diets, making stress management even more challenging. Other than maintaining strong teeth and bones, calcium helps with smooth muscle relaxation. Adequate calcium intakes may help keep our all our muscles relaxed, including our heart muscle, lowering the risk of heart attacks according to Wu CC, Bohr DF 1991 titled Mechanisms of calcium relaxation of vascular smooth muscle published in the American Journal of Physiology.
- Magnesium has been nicknamed the “relaxation” mineral. Its primary function is in the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that helps us relax. It also helps with the formation of serotonin, the “feel good hormone according Weston Price Foundation. Magnesium and calcium work together to help maintain muscle relaxation. Coconut water contains both of these minerals, so drink up on a stressful day to help you stay calm and stress-free.
- According Dr. Axe: ‘if you cannot find a fresh, green coconut, your second best choice is cold-pressured coconut water, which is only lightly processed via high pressure processing instead of heat. This exposes the water to high pressure to eliminate bacteria, but maintains a greater level of vitamins and minerals. If coconut water does not need to be refrigerated, it usually means it has been pasteurized to maintain its freshness. During the pasteurization process, liquids are heated to a high temperature to kill any bacteria, but this also destroys many of the natural vitamins and minerals in the product. Avoid coconut water that is from concentrate. Generally, if any fruit or vegetable is made into a concentrate, it loses nutrients in the process — therefore, it is always best to choose options that are not from concentrate.
Disclaimer: As pertains to all my previous articles, they are for educational purposes and not to be used as substitute to medical advice.
Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, PhD, Is an honorary Professor of Naturopathic Medicine with research interest in Naturopathic & Holistic Urology, Vinnytsia State Pedagogical University, Ukraine. President of Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine- Formulated of FDA approved Men’s Formula for Prostate Health, Women’s Formula for wellness & Nyarkotey Tea for cardiovascular Health. 0241083423 or 0541234556