It took me three trips to Barranquilla and ten months of living here before I tried my first coconut water directly from its shell. Every time I saw a sign for coco frío, I thought to myself, “ah, what`s the big deal? It`s just water sitting inside an unripe fruit!” I`m so glad that finally one day I listened to my partner and ordered my first coco frío! It was one of the most refreshing drinks I have ever tasted. After being sold on its taste, I decided to look deeper into its health-promoting properties and was astonished by how many studies and how much research has been done on fresh coconut water. The medicinal values of coco frío are so many that it`s impossible to cover them all here. But, let`s go over some of the more well-researched ones.
An excellent hydrating drink: There are so many natural fruit juices that can help with thirst, yet coco frío is by far superior to many of them due to its unique chemical composition. Coco frío is rich in many electrolytes including potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphor, as well as carbohydrates.1,2 It also has an osmolarity similar to blood, making it an excellent rehydrating beverage. In fact, coconut water is such an amazing rehydrating solution that it is used intravenously for patients’ hydration in remote regions of the world.1
When compared to standard carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drinks, researchers have found that coconut water is as effective in rehydration ability, 2,3,4,5 without containing the harmful conservatives and artificial additives found in sports drinks. Coconut water is also very low in calories, containing only 17 per 100 grams.
A natural multivitamin in a nutshell: Coconut water contains several vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, and folate as well as vitamin C. Increased consumption of vitamins reduces the risk of many diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, immune issues, and different types of cancers. Also, due to its folate content, coconut water is an excellent beverage during pregnancy.1,2
Cardiovascular protection: With a high content of potassium, coconut water helps reduce high blood pressure.1,2 It also has the capacity to lower total and low-density cholesterol (LDL) and very low-density cholesterol (VLDL).1 Coconut water has even been shown to offer protection against heart attacks.2
A natural antibacterial agent: Coconut water contains antibacterial agents that are helpful in fighting different bacterial infections in the body including urinary tract infection, infectious diarrhea and even bacteria that cause dental cavities.1 It also fights effectively against H-pylori bacteria in the stomach which, if left untreated, may lead to a stomach ulcer or stomach cancer.1
Anti-cancer, antiaging: Perhaps one of the most important medicinal components found in coconut water are cytokinins, including kinetin. Kinetin is known for its potent anti-cancer properties and may become a mainstream anti-cancer agent for different types of cancers in the future.2 In addition, kinetin has been found to be a strong anti ageing agent. Not only does it have an anti aging effect on the skin, but also it slows down the process of aging and may prolong lifespan.2
An antidote: As a last resource or in case of lack of access to health care system, coconut water can be used in emergencies as an antidote to eliminate poisons in mineral poisoning or to alleviate drug-induced overdose toxicity.1
Anti-Alzheimer, anti-dementia: Another naturally occurring cytokinin in coco frío is called trans-Zeatin. Trans-Zeatin is considered a potential component in treating neural diseases such as Alzheimer`s disease and dementia.2
The merits of coco frío don’t end here, but the good news is that you don’t need to know it all. You just need to drink it and coco frío will do its magic on its own. So, next time you’re thirsty under the sun of Barranquilla, rather than a soft drink or a bottled water, ask for a coco frío!
Be Happy and Healthy,
Dr. Rasa Nikanjam, ND, BSc.
The above content is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions.
1- DebMandal, M., Shyamapada Mandal, S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. 2011, 241-247 journal homepage:www.elsevier.com/locate/apjtmç
2- Yong J.W.H., Ge L., Ng Y. F.,Tan s. N. The Chemical Composition and Biological Properties of
Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) Water. Molecules. 2009, 14, 5144-5164
3- Kalman et al. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012, 9:1 http://www.jissn.com/content/9/1/1
4- Saat M., Singh R., Sirisinghe R. G., Nawawi M. Rehydration after Exercise with fresh Coconut water, Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Beverage and Plain Water. Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science. 2002, 93-104
5- Pérez-Idárraga A., Aragón-Vargas L. F. Postexercise rehydration: potassium-rich drinks versus water and a sports drink. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Oct;39(10):1167-74. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0434. Epub 2014 May 9.