Coconut Water and Health: Pros and Cons

Coconut Water and Health: Pros and Cons


Coconut water is the juice found in the inner cavity (endosperm) of healthy, undamaged green coconuts .

Coconuts reach their maximum water content (up to one litre) around 7 months of life.

Coconut palms thrive in tropical environments and coastal strips.

A coconut tree is capable of producing several hundred nuts each season. Naturally, the taste of the pulp and of the water they contain show considerable variations based on the cultivar, the saline content of the soil, the distance from the seashore, the climate, etc.

Nutritional composition per 100g of “Coconut Water”

Nutritional values ​​(per 100 g of edible portion)

Chemical composition Value per 100g
Edible part 100%
Waterfall 95.0g
Protein 0.7g
Total lipids 0.2g
Saturated fatty acids 0.18g
Monounsaturated fatty acids 0.01g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 0.00g
Cholesterol 0.0mg
Available carbohydrates 3.7g
Starch 1.1g
Soluble sugars 2.6g
Total fiber 1.1g
Soluble fiber – g
Insoluble fiber – g
Phytic acid 0.0g
Alcohol 0.0g
Power 19,0kcal
Sodium 105.0mg
Potassium 250.0mg
Iron 0.3mg
Soccer 24.0mg
Phosphorus 20.0mg
Magnesium 25.0mg
Zinc 0.1mg
Copper 0.7mg
Selenium 1.0µg
Thiamine 0.03mg
riboflavin 0.06mg
Niacin 0.08mg
Vitamin A retinol eq. 0.0µg
C vitamin 2.4mg
Vitamin E 0.0mg

Coconut water is one of the most refreshing drinks known in nature (therefore not made by man).

It is widely consumed throughout the tropical belt, thanks to its thirst-quenching properties given by the high potassium content .

Elements of Chemical Composition

100ml of coconut water provides 15-20kcal/100g and the dry residue barely reaches 10% of the RDA (average value).

In particular – despite what is declared by the companies that market coconut water in jars – the contribution of minerals (sodium, potassium, magnesium , calcium) and vitamins ( groups B and C), in a 100ml portion is not particularly significant.
Coconut water is clear and sweet , sterile and composed of a few chemicals, such as: sugars , vitamins, minerals, electrolytes , enzymes , amino acids , cytokines and phytohormones, all present in rather small concentrations.

For more information on the nutritional characteristics of coconut water, read the article: Coconut Water and Nutrition .

Compared to green, liquid-rich coconuts, mature coconuts contain much less water and a thicker endosperm; the latter is the edible portion of the fruit, rich in lipids .

Hypothetical Health Benefits

Coconut water is a very refreshing and thirst-quenching drink .

The liquid contains simple sugars and minerals, useful to compensate for any dehydration condition of the human body .

Let us now analyze in more detail the various health properties (hypothetical or full-blown) of coconut water; in particular, let’s focus on its rehydration capacity .

  • In many tropical regions, coconut water is given to patients suffering from dysentery , as a substitute for rehydration solutions . In fact, the osmolarity of coconut water is only slightly higher than that recommended by the “WHO Recommended ORS”, for oral rehydration therapy (Oral Rehydration Therapy); this characteristic is conferred (probably) by the not excessive presence of various biological constituents, such as: amino acids, enzymes, minerals and fatty acids. Unlike the WHO-ORS, coconut water has a modest sodium and chloride content, but is richer in sugars and amino acids.
  • Coconut water contains a good amount of potassium, around 250mg/100ml (versus 105mg/ml for sodium). This mineral, which is among the electrolytes most dispersed with faeces in case of dysentery – but also in sweat in case of intense sport or thermoregulation – can be replenished by regularly (but not exclusively) taking coconut water instead of common water. In this sense, even the modest concentration of other minerals (calcium, iron, manganese , magnesium, zinc ) and of certain B group vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pyridoxineand folate), helps to make coconut water a hypothetically useful product for the rehydration and reconstitution of weak subjects.
  • Fresh (not jarred) coconut water also contains a small amount of vitamin C ( ascorbic acid ), or about 2.4mg/100ml (4% of the RDA). As is well known, vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant , but it can be found in higher amounts in many other foods .
  • Some argue that cytokines (kinetin, trans-zeatin, etc.), present in coconut water, can exert an anti- aging , anti- carcinogenic and anti- thrombotic effect . However, while the functions of certain cytokines are well known, the effect of coconut water has not been widely demonstrated.
  • Coconut water is composed of many bioactive and natural enzymes, such as acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase, RNA polymerase etc. These could be a valuable aid in digestion .

Medicinal Uses

Coconut water has rarely been used as an intravenous rehydration fluid when medical saline mixtures were not available.
The composition of coconut water is vaguely similar to that of human blood plasma . During World War II, when medical supplies were extremely limited, many wounded of Japanese and British descent were injected with coconut water; the number of survivors is not known.
Obviously, this rehydration technique was only used for short-term emergency situations, in remote locations where plasma is almost never available.
Although today, from a medical point of view, it is absolutely inadvisable to replace saline solutions with coconut water, during the “Khmer Rouge” regime in Cambodia (1975-1979), it was a common practice. On the other hand, the “Documentation Center of Cambodia” defines the consent to nurses trained in the administration of green coconut water “a crime against humanity”.
In folk medicine, coconut water was used as a treatment for diarrhea .

Is Too Much Coconut Water Bad?

Some anecdotal sources describe the archaic use of coconut water to senicide the elderly in India, a procedure known as “thalaikoothal”. This custom involved the administration of an excessive amount of coconut water to the victims who, after the rise of the fever , reached death.
The causes of this reaction are not well determined. A fairly reliable hypothesis is that of the excess of potassium in the blood ( hyperkalaemia ) which, inducing acute renal failure , causes cardiac arrhythmialoss of consciousness and ultimately death. In a young person it is rare that such an event can occur, since the kidneys are usually able to filter high concentrations of potassium. For already compromised kidneys, however, it is possible that the reaction is different.
The only known case of hyperkalemia and loss of consciousness, which occurred following the consumption of several liters of coconut water, highlighted the association of the latter food with a food supplement for sports.
Coconut water is a drink universally recognized as “safe”. At normal portions (250-350ml) no adverse reactions of any kind are known, therefore there is no notification of a negative type. Being sterile (if extracted from ahealthy coconut ), is also considered safe in pregnancy , lactation , for children (after weaning ) and in pathological conditions with prior medical consent.



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