I love coconut water. I lived in India for two years where it became my drink of choice and lifesaver in the blistering heat. I also found it to be a super hangover fixer-upper. That was a couple of years ago, and in India we didn't buy little bottles or cartons of the stuff – it came straight out of the coconut.
We'd get about 3 glasses of water out of one largish coconut, and it would cost about R10.
Coconuts are as abundant in India as spices and music. The coconut palm has a myriad uses: coconuts give flour, water, oil, food; the shells are used to make baskets and to cook food in; the husks are turned into scrubbers and rope, the leaves or fronds are used in roof thatching, mattresses and to make brooms; the trunks are chopped up to make fire and the flowers are used in medicine.
When I returned to South Africa in 2010 I all but gave up on my coconut water as it was too hard to find. But in recent years there's been an explosion of coconut water brands – the one more funky, natural and effective than the other.
A recent article in The New York Times states that global sales of packaged coconut water have hit $400 million a year. That's a lot of people drinking coconut water! India's economy must be booming.
And it's not cheap either – anything from R16 per serving. But it is convenient and super refreshing, and, as long as there's no added sugar, it's certainly a healthier choice than sodas.
When CocoZone asked if I would try a single-serving carton of their coconut water every day for a month and see if it made any difference to my hydration or energy levels, I took up the challenge. I was glad they offered me the plain coconut water as I'm certainly not a fan of the flavoured variety.
So here I am sipping my very last CocoZone coconut water (see the pic here where I'm typing up this story) and I know I'm going to miss it tomorrow.
I do like this brand as it doesn't have any odd aftertaste, it's not all thick and gooey, and I don't have to refrigerate it (room temp was how I enjoyed it in India, after all). It's just slightly sweet and not too coconutty at all. It's also more affordable than some of the other brands.
It is quite high in sodium (compared to fizzy drinks), with 111mg per 330 ml serving, but that seems to be the case with most coconut waters. It has good magnesium and manganese values – up to 20% of your daily requirement. This is possibly why it's great first thing in the morning after a night out, or after a grueling workout in the midday sun.
CocoZone say why this is one of the best coconut waters:
• Single origin plantation (somewhere in the Philippines) that relies on natural rainfall and uses no chemicals in the farming process
• Harvested from young, green coconuts to ensure maximum nutrition and taste (7-months-old nuts)
• Bottled on site to preserve maximum nutrient content and guarantee consistent quality and taste
• No added sugar or preservatives
• 100% pure coconut water – not made from concentrate
I don't think it's in my mind, but I do feel more refreshed and slightly more 'awake' after my daily dose of coconut water. I also feel as though I'm doing my body and mind more good than when I drink simple tap water and I'm certainly less hyper than when I drink coffee.
In fact, much has been said about the health benefits of coconut water, and while the scientists still need a little more time to pinpoint exactly what that is, there is enough anecdotal evidence from the East and Island nations that shows this natural drink contributes to human health and well-being.
Some food purists would say you should only go for raw coconut water – that's coconut water that has not been heat pasteurised, as some nutrients are lost during the heating process required to give the product a shelf life. CocoZone, like just about every other brand I looked at, is heat pasteurised and I am not orthorexic enough to care. I love the stuff!
I did find a study, published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine in 2011, that showed that regularly drinking coconut water is helpful for:
• Reducing anaemia
• Lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease
• Cutting stroke risk
• Preventing various cancers
• Protecting against heart attack
• Controlling hypertension
• Lowering blood pressure
The author also states that, during WW II coconut water from a 5-month old nut was injected directly into a patient's veins to revive him. Interesting!
Another study, published in Molecules, says the wide applications of coconut water can be justified by its unique chemical composition of sugars, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytohormones.
You can read more about the health benefits of coconut water in a recent Health24 article.
Regardless of the brand you decide to go for, keep a lookout for added sugars, sodium content and whether it's made from concentrate. Also, go for coconut water in a glass bottle or a tetra pack and not tin cans, which tend to add a metallic taste.
Cheers to nature!
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