One of the best things about a beach holiday – other than the sun, surf and hammocks, that is – is the chance to drink quantities of coconut water. We’ve always known this natural refresher is good for us, but now, even Hollywood’s brightest have got in on the act, with Matthew McConaughey and Demi Moore recently joining pop star Madonna in buying shares in a US-based coconut water brand.
Right now, in fact, coconut water is receiving very good press, being touted as almost a ‘miracle’ drink. Here too, more and more people are opting for this natural refresher. “If we do not prescribe it, people ask for it. Drinking coconut water has become a fancy thing to do,” says Delhi-based dietician Indu Jain.
Weight loss star
Coconut water features in most diet plans because it’s the ideal drink for weight loss. It is lower in calories than any other beverage, excluding water and salted nimboo pani. That makes it a perfect thirst quencher too. “Coconut water is not calorie free but has negligible calories – 100 ml has 17 kcal,” explains Jyoti Arora, team leader, nutrition and dietetics, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon. “In comparison, bottled nimboo pani has 40 to 50 kcal in 100 ml, while orange aerated drinks have 100 kcal in 150 ml.”
Says Honey Khanna, dietician, Max Healthcare, “Coconut water is high in potassium. People with weight problems suffer from water retention, which happens because sodium in the body stores water. Potassium flushes out excess water.” Apart from this, some doctors believe that coconut water’s ability to maintain a balance in the body helps it to speed up metabolism.
The clear choice
Coconut water is also a balm for the stomach. “It is natural and easy to digest. So before we put patients on solid foods after surgery, we give them coconut water,” says Jyoti Arora. “It also has a good amount of electrolytes, vitamins, minerals and chlorides.”
It is also suitable for people suffering from acidity and heartburn. Says Arora, “The pH acidic level in the body turns alkaline when you drink coconut water and that’s why it’s good for acidity.” Coconut water is also recommended for people who have lost body fluids post vomiting or diarrhoea, and is a panacea against constipation, says Dr Shilpa Thakur, chief dietician at Asian Institute Of Medical Sciences. “It contains lauric acid, and is cholesterol- and fat-free, so it also helps heal the liver, especially in cases of jaundice,” she says.
Aside from this, coconut water is antibacterial and antiviral, and can help flush out toxins from the body, explains Jyoti Arora. Studies have also shown that coconut water can help break down small kidney stones and flush them out of the body. “It is also good for kidney function. The electrolytes in it help stabilise blood pressure and since it is 99 per cent fat free, it is good for the heart,” says Dr Thakur.
But you don’t have to suffer from any ailment to enjoy this fresh drink. It’s a great refresher, says Honey Khanna. “Though it’s not very high in calories and hence does not give you much energy, it rehydrates the body and is a natural isotonic beverage.” Which makes it an excellent summer drink, she adds. “It contains small amounts of micronutrients. These help boost immunity in the body to a small extent and help detoxify the body.”
Not suitable for...
If you have some kind of kidney dysfunction, you should not drink coconut water unless your doctor specifically prescribes it.
According to experts, this is because potassium levels in the body go up when the kidneys do not function properly. Since coconut water is already high in potassium, it is not recommended.
Keep in mind that though coconut water is low in calories, it is not entirely calorie-free. Therefore, if you suffer from diabetes, be sure to drink it only in moderation.