Coconut water is considered the most natural beverage--after water of course. For centuries, people around the world have revered coconut water for its health benefits, convenience and taste. In the United States and the rest of the western world, the "miracle drink" has been steadily gaining popularity for its flavor, hydration properties and nutritional value.
Identification: Is there a difference between coconut milk and coconut water? Yes, a big one. Coconut water is a thin clear liquid found at the center of the nut before maturation, while coconut "milk" is made from the liquid extracted from the actual flesh of the coconut. The milk is much thicker and richer, and maintains a very high fat content. The water of a young green coconut is sweet and light. As the nut ages, the nutrients in the water are absorbed by the flesh, leaving the water bitter and lackluster. Therefore, to reap the natural health and flavor benefits of coconut water, the coconut must be harvested while it is still green.
Natural Sports Drink: The most "trendy" benefit of coconut water, as seen in the marketing of commercial products such as Zico and Vita Coco, is re-hydration. Coconut water has been dubbed "the natural Gatorade" for its high levels of electrolytes and minerals. People sweat out these minerals during physical activity, so re-hydrating is essential when exercising. The replenishing of electrolytes is the concept behind commercial sports drinks, therefore many believe that coconut water should be marketed as "the natural sports drink." In 2007, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was granted a patent to bottle and sell coconut water as a sports drink.
Alleviation of Ailments: Aside from crucial electrolytes, coconut water contains calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins, sugars and proteins. For centuries, it has helped hydrate, cool body temperature and maintain immune system balance. Due to the saline and albumen content, it is used to ease symptoms of cholera, urinary tract diseases, kidney stones and dysentery. According to the Coconut Development Board, it helps promote weight loss, relieves rashes when applied externally, can be used as an antiseptic or as an emergency substitute during a blood transfusion and may aide the body's immune system when fighting AIDS, cancer and diabetes. Coconut water has also proven beneficial for alleviating nausea, as it naturally settles the stomach. Therefore, it's also an ideal hangover cure in lieu of the raw egg and milk.
Warning: There are many myths about the benefits of coconut water, such as one that says drinking enough coconut water will cause a mother to start producing milk again to feed another person's baby. This has not been proven, and it has no biological foundation. While there are many nutritional benefits to coconut water, it is not a medicinal cure. Coconut water aides healing and alleviation of many ailments, though it is not a cure for any severe disease.
Benefits: Coconut water is all-natural, and aside from its benefits, no harm can come from its consumption. The long-term and short-term benefits of nature's "miracle water" offer sufficient reason for its regular consumption. In the United States, there are many brands of commercially bottled coconut water available to the consumer. However, if you truly desires the health benefits of coconut water, along with the taste and enjoyment benefits, then get on a plane, head to the beach, order a coconut freshly hacked open in front of your eyes, and sip slowly through a straw.