Coconut Water and Why it’s Healthy

I know that coconut water is very popular right now, and no one needs another reason to drink it, but it’s one of my favorite things and as much as I’ve been told to drink coconut water I’ve never known HOW it helps your health. I just trusted that it was healthy and it tasted good so why not? It also made me feel better so I knew there must be something to it. A few years ago a friend of mine would bring me a young coconut to drink every day. My health was in a slump and it slowly started to get better. I was trying lots of other things but I couldn’t help but wonder if the young coconuts were playing a role. In my wonderings about this tasty trend I’ve done some research and I’ve found some explanations. I’ve also experimented adding it to drinks and smoothies and have invented a chocolate-chai coconut water recipe that I have affectionately nicknamed “elixir of the gods” due to my embarrassingly geeky sense of humor and love of anything chocolate, and the fact that it is AAHMAZING, at least I think so. The recipe is at the end of this post.  Anyway, here’s what I’ve found about coconut water:

1) Coconut water is compatible with human blood!

Coconut water is isotonic to human plasma because of its similar electrolyte balance.  In an emergency it has been used intravenously to hydrate quickly, like a natural IV. In fact, it is even used in third world countries when they don’t have access to regular medical supplies to save lives.  This compatibility makes it wonderful substance that easily nourishes the body, dehydrated or not.

2) Cytokinins

In addition to this interesting fact, coconut water has many health benefits that you may not be aware of.  Coconut water has cytokinins (kinetin and trans-zeatin). Cytokinins are a class of plant growth substances or phytohormones.  These “plant hormones” promote cell division (cytokinesis)  in all of plant growth, especially the roots and shoots. They were discovered through the use of coconut milk by Folke Skoog in the 1940’s. These studies lead to research that suggest that cytokinins may prevent aging,  cancer (anti-carcinogenic), and anti-clot formation (antithrombotic).

3) Natural defender

Coconut water (and the meat) can help protect from invaders of all kinds. It has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and even anti-inflammatory properties which have been used to treat a variety of diseases. However, if coconut water is consumed in excess you may be taking in too much sugar.  People with immune problems need to limit their sugar intake, including coconut water.  Even so, coconut water sugars offer nutrition that is very different than table sugar, so I think it’s a much healthier option to sweets. It’s sugars are actually said to be very healing, but I need to research more on that. Coconut oil or milk also has many of the same anti-invader properties but not much of the healing nutrients and sugars.

4) Enzymes

Many bioactive enzymes such as catalase, acid phosphatase, dehydrogenase, diastase, peroxidase and RNA-polymerases are present in coconut water.  These enzymes aid in metabolism and digestion.

5) Minerals

Coconut water has better mineral composition than most juices which include iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.  It also a great source of B-complex vitamins which are especially important for vegans, and really anyone who has chronic fatigue, or adrenal problems.

With its high levels of electrolytes coconut water is also great as a sport’s drink, although I would recommend drinking water as well.  If you drink too much coconut water, the high levels of magnesium (which is the active ingredient in certain laxatives) might make you visit the bathroom often and thus dehydrate you if you don’t drink water as well! However, the magnesium content is also what helps to relax tight or sore muscles and also promotes more restful sleep.

With all of the brands of coconut waters and juices available I still think opening a young coconut is the best choice. It is fresh and so unlike anything you can find in a carton or can. And you can eat the young coconut meat too, which I personally love, but my friend Darcy nearly spit out on the floor the first time she tried it, so it is an acquired taste. But once you acquire it, you can’t get enough! The fatty meat is made up of medium-chain fatty acids that energize your cells instead of depositing and adding to your spare tire, so it creates nearly instant energy that revs your metabolism.

Ok, now for the recipe “Elixer of the Gods” or you could just call it “Chocolate Coconut Chai Iced Tea”

~ 1 part Zico chocolate coconut water (Must get this brand and flavor! I suggest buying at a place that sells them often. I go to Whole Foods and look for the refrigerated ones. They tend to get fruity tasting and not at all like their original flavor if they sit on the shelf too long, which makes it not as delicious but still good.)

~ 1 part chai tea, brewed very strong or use 1 part Tazo Chai Latte in the carton (I use Teavana caffeine-free Caramel Chai)

~ Sweetener to taste (If using Tazo Chai Tea Latte in the carton you can omit this because it’s sweet enough!)

Brew a strong batch of Chai tea, (I use a loose-leaf tea and heat the water on low just below a simmer and let it steep for a few minutes) then let it cool to room temperature.  Pour half tea/half Zico chocolate coconut water, and add desired sweetener to taste and ice to preference.  Enjoy!