There has been a great deal of media hype recently over coconut water and its miracle cures for ailments and illness. With heavy marketing and celebrity status, it is not surprising that the nutrient value of this super food is now being heavily questioned.

“Myth or Miracle” Is coconut water really better for us than ordinary, straight up, pure, H2O??

This article was recently published in the People’s Choice Reviews http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/food-and-health/food-and-drink/beverages/is-coconut-water-healthy.aspx

Well, it is popularly known as “Nature’s Gatorade” which naturally sparks discussion around it’s potassium and electrolyte content (as discussed in the article above).

Though the benefits of this super food go far beyond simply hydration and replenishment.

Coconut history:

For 1000’s of years tropical inhabitants have been using coconut water to cleanse their bodies, remove parasites, aid digestive function and provide general wellness.Hawaiians named coconut water noelani(no-way lah-nee), meaning “dew from the heavens” and it has a long history of use as both a food and as a medicine.”Coconut water not only satisfies thirst but invigorates the body and brings about a sense of well-being and renewed health” says Dr Fife, leading expert in coconut research.

Young coconut water gained more popularity worldwide following its use in World War 2 for blood transfusions (they literally placed a coconut on the IV stand). Many injured soldiers who were unable to keep down water, were able to drink the coconut water and remain hydrated for long enough to survive. It saved many lives. The mineral composition of coconut water is actually a little unbalanced to say that it mimics our very own blood plasma (it is actually closer to our body’s intracellular fluid) but it is the closest natural alternative we have found so far in the nutritional world.

In the 1970’s, it was discouraged due to claims of unhealthy packaging of the product and a notion that coconut oil was harmful to our health. Many coconut plantations went out of business during this time due to the heavy shift.

Coconuts and their water have always remained in use in their countries of origin but of course hit our shelves again in full force in the last 10 years. Thailand holds most of the trade with Australia, though unfortunately it is challenging to find out what age the coconuts are when they are bottled, how long the water remains outside of the coconut (much like water, it contains electricity and needs to be ‘live’ when ingested) and of course the method behind the processing.

For this reason, I certainly appreciated receiving this article (and sharing it!) as not a day goes by when someone with great marketing capabilities doesn’t attach themselves to a specific food type and claim it to be a miracle cure for everything (cocao, acai berries, gogi, maca etc etc). These products are all wonderful in their natural states and shouldn’t necessarily be singled out as better than others.

Nutritional composition:

It is important to note that coconut water provides far more for the body than simply potassium and electrolytes (although it is a great alternative to sports drinks due to its purity and ability to replenish quickly!).

Coconut water contains a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, growth factors, and other phytonutrients.

It is a good source of vitamin c, calcium, fibre, folate, magnesium, manganese and riboflavin. It also contains other trace elements such as zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, boron, molybdenum. In large quantities, it can be high in sugars (though substantially less than other fruit juices) and it is also high in sodium, remembering our body needs natural sodium to survive.

The fact that coconut water is generally extremely sterile (unlike our tap or bottled water), gives it a higher stance in the medicinal world. It also contains lauric acid, a fatty acid present in breast milk that has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It has often been used in the natural world as a great alternative to whole milk or processed milk products for infants.

It is commonly used in natural medicine to prevent and relieve health problems such as constipation, digestive disturbances, malnutrition, fatigue, heatstroke, boils, diarrhea, kidney stones, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, and sterility.

I personally know many a doctor who treat their clients with pure coconut water here in the tropics, managing to aid cleansing and ease the painful process of evacuating kidney stones and curing urinary tract infections. It is also used to help with nausea, vomiting, liver issues and even sunburn. With it’s antioxidants and healing properties, the list goes on.

There are a great deal of books on the market discussing the nutritional properties of coconut water. Coconut Water for Health and Healing by Dr Bruce Fife is one of my favourites.

My Thoughts:

Personally, I wouldn’t generally compare coconut water to pure H2O (required for human and animal survival).

I may suggest that coconut water is second in purity to clean drinking water.

Natural water sourced from a clean flowing stream or falling rain is vital for human health (How often do we source this ourselves though. Another issue is the quality of water we are drinking). We need to note that coconut water in large quantities may actually disrupt the digestive system and have the opposite effect.

Rather than being comparative, I tend to look at coconut water as a perfect addition to a healthy intake. I believe it to be a fabulous choice in assisting the body with the balance of vitamins and minerals that it requires.

So, is coconut water still a super food despite the debate? Of course it is !

Do we have access to the best of it in Australia and the United States ? This may be the more relevant question.

Those living in the tropical regions with access to coconuts straight from the tree will reap all the wonderful benefits.

As with other processed products, it is possible the nutrient content of this food in a packaged form is heavily reduced through processing.

There certainly are questions surrounding the ‘natural’ state of the water contained inside these packaged materials. If I were to empty a fresh young coconut this morning for you and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge, by tomorrow evening it will begin it’s decline and within 2 days it will be no longer drinkable.

How these products are processed really does affect their shelf life and of course their nutritional value. Marketing campaigns rely heavily on the naturalistic approach and of course coconut water is now found in gyms, health food stores and local delicatessen’s all over the world. Needless to say it isn’t just found on the beach in the Caribbean islands anymore and it needs to travel significant miles to get to you!

With new cold sterilisation techniques, it may be possible that the nutritional value of these products are actually on the rise. This requires more research and is another topic for another day.

With all of this said, the choice is always yours to make, it is your body and your wonderful life. I urge you to stay motivated, keep in touch with individuals who are really making a difference and always be in pursuit of anything that can create a better life for you !!

Always committed to your success,

Marissa

www.marissanieves.com

www.purelifefitness.com.au