Coconut water is the clear liquid inside coconuts (which are fruits of the coconut palm). In early development, it serves as a suspension for the endosperm of the coconut during the nuclear phase of development. As growth continues, the endosperm matures into its cellular phase and deposits into the rind of the coconut pulp.
Fresh coconuts are typically harvested from the tree while they are green. A hole may be bored into the coconut to provide access to the liquid and meat. In young coconuts, the liquid and air may be under some pressure and may spray slightly when the inner husk is first penetrated. Coconuts which have fallen to the ground are susceptible to rot and damage from insects or other animals.
Coconut water has long been a popular drink in the tropical countries where it is available fresh, canned, or bottled.
Coconuts for drinking are served fresh, chilled or packaged in many places. They are often sold by street vendors who cut them open with machetes or similar implements in front of customers. Processed coconut water for retail can be found in ordinary cans, Tetra Paks, or plastic bottles, sometimes with coconut pulp or coconut jelly included.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||79 kJ (19 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||1.1 g|
|Aspartic acid||0.070 g|
|Glutamic acid||0.165 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Providing 19 calories in a 100 ml amount, coconut water is 95% water and 4% carbohydrates, with protein and total fat content under 1% each (table). Coconut water contains small amounts of vitamins and dietary minerals, all under 10% of the Daily Value (table).
During the early 21st century, coconut water has been marketed as a natural energy or sports drink having low levels of fat, carbohydrates, and calories, and significant electrolyte content. However, the contents of primary electrolytes sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium per 100 ml serving of unprocessed coconut water are insignificant (2-7% of the DV) and are not balanced. Further, marketing claims attributing health benefits to coconut water are not based on science and are disallowed by certain regulatory agencies. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration warned producers about misleading marketing claims that coconut water is antiviral, can lower cholesterol, or can regulate blood glucose levels, among other false claims, as inappropriate for the product.
Some companies have faced class action lawsuits over false advertising claims that the product was, "super-hydrating", "nutrient-packed", and "mega-electrolyte". The plaintiffs also alleged that one company, Vita Coco, falsely claimed that its product had "15 times the electrolytes found in sports drinks" and misrepresented the levels of sodium and magnesium as advertised. The company denied any wrongdoing and settled the lawsuit for US$10 million in April 2012.
Coconut water has been used rarely as an intravenous rehydration fluid when medical saline was unavailable. The story of coconut water being similar to human blood plasma originated during World War II when British and Japanese patients were given coconut water intravenously in an emergency because saline was unavailable. Since then, this rehydration technique has been used only for short-term emergency situations in remote locations where plasma is not available.
Although substituting coconut water for saline is not recommended by physicians today, it was a common practice during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The Documentation Center of Cambodia cited the practice of allowing untrained nurses to administer green coconut water during the Pol Pot regime as a crime against humanity.
One presumed factor arising from excessive consumption of coconut water is an over-abundance of potassium in the blood (hyperkalemia), inducing acute kidney failure, heart arrhythmia, loss of consciousness and eventually death. Hyperkalemia and loss of consciousness after the consumption of several liters of coconut water were reported only as a clinical case study in association with one individual's use of a commercial product following physical exertion.
Anecdotal sources describe coconut water is used in India for the senicide of elderly people, a procedure known as thalaikoothal. In this custom, the elderly person is made to drink an excessive amount of coconut water, eventually resulting in fever and death, the exact causes of which have not been determined.
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