Using Your Nut

| September 10, 2011 | 2 Comments

By Charlotte Tenney, MIH

Coconut Water has finally reached its potential: It now has a law suit against it for “misrepresentation of nutrients.” Or, at least, a couple of specific brands have been cited for over-zealous advertising of the benefits. Considering how frequently with which it has been advertised as “better than a sports drink,” it is no mystery that the ad campaign made some enemies in big corporations. While they fight it out over the details of exactly how much potassium is in each serving, it would be easy to lose faith in the health benefits of this delicious plant food. The law suit does not deny the health benefits; just that certain brands have inaccurate nutrition labels.

What are the health benefits? Starting out at the most basic level, the liquid taken from young, immature coconuts has an alkaline pH of 7.5. Drinking a serving a day can help keep the body’s blood and cells in the healthy pH range and can neutralize the acidic metabolic waste products. When your body is operating in the correct pH range, the immune system works appropriately to reduce and prevent inflammation, ward off viral and bacterial invaders and to detect and suppress aberrant cellular growth. With an alkaline-rich blood supply the digestion works at optimum to break down food into easily absorbed forms to ensure that you get the vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids available. The mineral salts the coconut water help to rehydrate the tissues, transporting water into the cells.

In general, an alkaline pH is an indicator of a plant that contains a significant amount of minerals. Coconut water is a botanical star in this regard. While there may be quibbles over the exact amounts, and any plant product can vary in content naturally depending upon growing conditions, everyone agrees that a serving of coconut water has a high potassium level that is easily more than that found in a banana or a potato. In addition, fresh coconut water is “isotonic,” that is, the same electrolyte composition as blood serum. It was even used by field hospitals in the Pacific, during World War II, as a readily available and effective, sterile, plasma transfusion.

The other health benefits of coconut water all follow from the nutritional profile. It has no cholesterol and less fat than an equal amount of milk. The fat that it does contain is lauric acid, the same that is present in mother’s milk that is a tonic support for tissue formation and energy. The list of ailments that respond to this low-fat, low cholesterol, high mineral drink are many. It has been used in tropical countries for centuries to treat diarrhea, kidney stones, bladder infections, high blood pressure and even cases of intestinal worms. It works very well for all these purposes in our world, too.

There is no mysterious ingredient to isolate from the coconut. The active ingredient is the whole, fresh juice. Don’t confuse coconut water with coconut milk or dried coconut “meat.” Those come from the mature coconut and have a completely different profile since the plant has had the chance to develop higher levels of fat and sugar. Of course, the best way to get good quality coconut water is to get the whole coconut, drill a hole in it, insert a straw and enjoy. A more convenient way is to purchase canned or boxed waters that are readily available now, not just in health food stores, but also at retailers like CostCo. And, if you drink it plain, it does meet the claims of lower calories, no artificial colors, no high fructose corn sweeteners, no chemical flavoring agents, less carbohydrates, and so forth, compared to any brand of sports drink out there.

If you want it to taste like citrus, you can always squeeze a bit of lime or lemon into it. As you send the kids back to school, this is a reasonable thing to include in their lunch bags. You can feel confident that their little brains will function optimally from being thoroughly hydrated. And, by having enough potassium present for good muscle and nerve function, they will have the reflexes and strength for recess games and sports. Drinking coconut water really IS a great way to promote good health, regardless of the well-publicized dispute about the label details. Enjoy.

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  1. avatar Richard Cone says:

    I always learn so many new things from reading Charlotte Tenney’s articles. Had no idea there was a difference between “coconut milk” and “coconut water.” Thanks for the great information.

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