Coconut water is the juice in the interior or endosperm of young coconut. Its water is one of the nature’s most refreshing drinks, consumed worldwide for its nutritious and health benefiting properties.
The water is actually obtained by opening a tender, green, healthy, and undamaged coconut. Inside, its clear liquid is sweet, and sterile and composed of unique chemicals such as sugars, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes, amino acids, cytokine, and phyto-hormones. In general, young and slightly immature coconuts are harvested when they are about 5-7 months of age for the drink.
Botanically, coconut plant belongs within the Arecaceae family of palm trees and has the scientific name of Cocos nucifera.
Each nut may contain about 200 to 1000 mL of water depending on cultivar type and size. Every nuts younger than five months tend to be bitter in taste and devoid of nutrients. In contrast, mature nuts contain less water, and their endosperm thickens quickly to white edible meat (kernel). Coconut milk obtained from the meat is therefore should not be confused with coconut water.
Coconut palm flourishes well along the costal tropical environments. A coconut tree may yield several hundred tender nuts each season. Different species of coconut palms are grown all over the tropics. Naturally, their taste and flavor of water show variations according to saline content in the soil, distance from sea shore, mainland,
In the past coconut water was used as a drink in the cases of cholera; moreover it was injected in wounded people with little serum during the Vietnam war: it was a valid substitute for blood plasma because it’s sterile, it doesn’t produce heat and it hasn’t phagocytic function against erythrocyte.
(The intravenous use of coconut water)
Properties and functions
The United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO) presents coconut water as “pure, fresh, natural drink, rich in nutrients: it has all the qualities of an energetic drink”. In fact coconut water is very low in fat and calories and it has no cholesterol percentage but it is a source of sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
The nutritional values per 100g of coconut water are shown in the table below:
It abounds with anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-microbial and from a biochemical point of view one of its constituent is lauric acid which is used as a remedy to the gastro-intestinal disorders or in the leaky gut syndrome. Lauric acid is a carboxylic acid with the formula CH3 (CH2) 10COOH: it is a saturated-medium chain fatty acid, because it consists of 12 carbon atoms. It is abundant in dairy products, animal fats and tropical oils. The largest concentrations of lauric acid are found in coconut oil, which despite being rich in saturated fats (like all tropical oils), has a small atherogenic power. Once ingested, in fact, lauric acid is converted into monolaurin, a monoglyceride from the properties antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiprotozoarie.
The structure of monolaurin is:
Monolaurin is the glycerol ester of lauric acid, a 12-carbon chain fatty acid found naturally in breast milk and certain vegetable oils. This fatty acid has been used as a germicidal agent for centuries. Lauric acid was originally discovered when microbiologists studied human breast milk to determine the antiviral substances which protected infants from microbial infections. Other fatty acids were also found to have antimicrobial actions but the 12-carbon chain of lauric acid was found to be the most active. In addition the esterification of lauric acid yielded a compund, monolaurin (glycerol monolaurate), with even greater antiviral activity. The human body has the machinery to metabolize fatty acids and glycerol, the end-products of fat digestion. Both the parent substance (lipid) and its metabolic breakdown products are non-toxic to humans.
(Antibacterial study of the medium chain fatty acids and their 1-monoglycerides: individual effects and synergistic relationships ; Effect of glycerol monolaurate on bacterial growth and toxin production)
Monolaurin has been studied at medical research centers, including the Center for Disease Control, because of its high antimicrobial activity. These studies revealed information about the antiviral mechanism of monolaurin. It was found to be active against enveloped DNA and RNA viruses such as the Influenza virus, Paramyxoviruses, Rubeola virus, Bronchitis virus and the Herpes family. A recent study has described how monolaurin can prevent the transmission of SIV, a Retrovirus (Glycerol monolaurate prevents mucosal SIV transmission).
The mechanism of action involves direct antiviral activity. The lauric acid binds to the lipid-protein envelope of the virus and inactivates the virus. Recent publications have shown that monolaurin and lauric acid inhibit the replication of viruses by interrupting the binding of virus to host cells and thus preventing the uncoating of viruses necessary for replication and infection. Other studies have shown that monolaurin is able to remove all measurable infectivity by directly disintegrating the viral envelope. Binding of monolaurin to the viral envelope also makes the virus more susceptible to degredation by host defences, heat, or UV light.
Clinical Studies have shown that monolaurin is effective against Epstein-Barr virus, Cytomegalovirus (Effects of antimicrobial factors in human milk on Rhinoviruses and CMV in vitro), and Herpes type I and II.
The fatty acid had no effect on diseases caused by non-enveloped viruses such as Poliovirus, Coxsackie virus, Encephalomyocarditis virus, Rhinovirus (Effects of antimicrobial factors in human milk on Rhinoviruses and CMV in vitro), and Rotaviruses.
In addition a recent study also showed monolaurin’s use in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria (Glycerol monolaurate inhibits the effects of Gram-positive select agents on eukaryotic cells) such as Staphylococcus aureus (Reduction in Staphylococcus aureus growth and exotoxin production and in vaginal interleukin 8 levels due to glycerol monolaurate in tampons ; Effects of essential oils and monolaurin on Staphylococcus aureus: in Vitro and in Vivo Studies), Bacillus anthracis (Glycerol monolaurate inhibits virulence factor production in Bacillus anthracis), Lysteria monocitogenes (Mechanism of synergistic inhibition of Listeria monocytogenes growth by lactic acid, monolaurin, and nisin); furthermore monolaurin is effective against Candida (a fungus) without altering vaginal pH or Lactobacillus counts (Glycerol monolaurate inhibits Candida and Gardnerella vaginalis in vitro and in vivo but not Lactobacillus). Due to their high antibiotic-resistance, Enterococchi are resitant to monolaurin too (Characterization of monolaurin resistance in Enterococcus faecalis).
Considering Gram-negative bacteria, it has been shown that monolaurin is helpful in case of Helicobapter pylori infections (Antibacterial actions of fatty acids and monoglycerides against Helicobacter pylori).
Coconut water also helps to eliminate toxins of the digestive system, regulates the levels of gastric acidity and promotes intestinal absorption. It should also be of interest to the area of prevention of the liver in cases of hepatitis, or inflammation.
Apart from taking care of the digestive system, the water of the coconut seems to be a natural anti-stress, in particular, in women during menopause is an excellent soothing and refreshing and uses its effect to reduce the burning sensation and hot flush, restoring physical and emotional stability.
This solution is also an adjunct in cases of malnutrition, poor blood circulation, high blood pressure, heartburn, fluid retention and, in particular, is a remedy to cure the damage caused by antibiotics and toxins food.
Sometimes it is effective in the treatment of kidney and urethral stones.
Being a natural drink, even children can drink coconut water, especially those who suffer from intestinal disorders and it’s suitable for all ages.
For his office of vitamins and healthy bacteria presence, it is the perfect integration efforts in sports or intense high calorie consumption, promoting muscle recovery. FAO − the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture – recommended coconut water as a natural energy drink for athletes who have sports competitions. (Sport drink)
Coconut water turns out to be a supplement of power slimming and cleansing, excellent to combat cellulites thanks to its purifying effects.
(Benefits of coconut water)
Indirect relationship between coconut water and insomnia
The Italian Association of Sleep Medicine (AIMS) has conducted research which led to that 12 million Italians suffer from sleep disorders. The causes of this problem may be the most diverse but generally they are to be charged to depression, daytime fatigue and poor quality of life. Everyone would agree that insomnia is considered a true social disease that affects labor relations, family and personal amplifying other diseases caused by the state of anxiety as gastritis, ulcers, colitis, abdominal bloating, disease skin, but also thrush and cystitis. In order to help sleeping it's important to choose the right nourishment like coconut water because it is detoxifying, relaxing, useful in case of anxiety.
(Benefits of coconut water)
The possible high power of coconut water
Coconut water has been designed to counter the increase in bad cholesterol. A scientific study conducted in 2008 by the Food and Chemical Toxicology of the laboratory mice has led to another interesting property of coconut water charity: it would cut down levels of bad cholesterol.
This study showed the same positive effects of coconut water and lovostatin (an anti-cholesterol), in just 45 days of testing. However, the article in question points out that there are none confirmations about the human yet, then it is good to take with caution this research of 2008.
(Coconut water and cholesterol)