|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||63 kJ (15 kcal)|
|Dietary fibre||1.1 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Coconut water is the clear liquid inside young green coconuts (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 meat.
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 animals.
Human consumption and derivative products
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.
In recent years, 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 per 100 ml serving, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, are not particularly high, nor balanced. Further, marketing claims attributing health benefits to coconut water are not based on science and are disallowed by regulatory agencies, such as the United States Food and Drug Administration.
In a 100 g (ml) serving providing 15 calories, the content of all essential nutrients falls below 10% of the recommended Daily Value (table). Specifically concerning its content of electrolyte minerals in a 100 ml serving, coconut water is a not a significant source of potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium (table).
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. This rehydration technique has been used since 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.
Risks of excessive consumption
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 scientifically determined.
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 have only been reported as a clinical case study in association with one individual's use of a commercial product following physical exertion.
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Media related to Coconut water at Wikimedia Commons