The water of a tender coconut, technically the liquid endosperm, is perhaps the most pure, nutritious, and wholesome beverage that nature has provided for the sun-scorched children of the tropics. It is in one of natures most perfect packages, and is said to keep the body cool and prevents prickly heat and summer boils. It subside the rashes caused by smallpox, chicken pox, and measles. At the proper stage the liquid endosperm contains about 5% sugar. It also contains minerals, amino acids, and vitamin C ranging from 2.2 to 3.7 mg/100 ml. The water has a caloric value of 17.4/100 gm. It ferments easily giving rise to alcohol and vinegar. In addition it has auxinic or growth promoting properties, and is liberally made use of in tissue culture techniques.
Its numerous medicinal values are its aperients property –killing intestinal worms, the presence of salines and albumins making it a good drinking cholera cases, checking vomiting, and when washed in it frequently, cleans the skin of wrinkles, imparting to it a yourthful complexion.
Coconut water is a luxury to some; to others it is a common everyday beverage. Children are very fond of it, men like it, and ladies serve it at parties. Its strange qualities have created many stories and legends about curative properties of “DAB” or tender nut water (davis 1962).
Coconut water is sometimes confused with coconut milk-the liquid inside mature coconuts. Child (1964) discounts many medicinal properties of coconut water. He states that though it is commonly drunk as a beverage its nutritive value is almost entirely in its sugar content. A large nut may contain 1 oz of sugar in the liquid. In the early stages the sugar is in the invert form, but as the nut reaches the fifth or sixth month it changes to sucrose. The happens at the same time the “meat” is laid down inside the shell. At the same time the sugar content decreases.
The composition of coconut water
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The percentage of alanine, arginine, cystine, and serine in the proteins are higher than those in cows’ milk. For this reason coconut water is used for infant feeding. Other uses are: adulterant for cows’ milk, taken mixed with castor oil, and in whitewash to give a fine finish. Due to high content of salines and albumin it is said to check cholera, destroy intestinal worms and relieve stomach troubles.
Since tender coconut water can’t be preserved it is a local drink held in its original container (coconut shell) until it is released by punching a hole in one of the “eyes” in the face of the nut.
Tender coconut water is most palatable about 7 months after the nuts are pollinated, and the total solids are about 5%. If used earlier than this it is discarded because the water lacks sweetness and flavor, if used later it may not have the desired flavor. The desirable flavor is sweet and slightly astringent.
Trade in tender coconuts for coconut water is mostly local. Should the nuts become slightly too mature for the “water” to be used for drinking, the gelatinous “pulp” can be scooped out of the broken shell and eaten as a refreshing dish. The tender nuts are usually sold to hawkers, itinerant dealers, retailers or merchants immediately after harvesting, who in turn dispose of the nuts in towns, shanties, railway stations, and the like. (Pandalai 1958)
The water from coconuts has been found to speed up growth of mycobacterium tuberculosis organisms. When needed in large quantities for biological research the organisms are usually grown on the surface of a culture media. But, with added coconut water, even when diluted 10,000 times, the 20 days normally required for maximum growth are reduced to 12. The coconut water by itself can’t be used, and works only when added to the standard culture media. The growth-promoting factor is a polysaccharide.
The possibility that this growth factor would make the organisms more deadly was not confirmed with experiments with mice (anon 1957).
Coconut water can be fed intravenously. Experiments in Bangkok, Thailand and in St. Louis have shown the possibilities of using coconut water for feeding patients through the veins. A total of 26 infusions into the veins of 21 persons were given without serious reactions.
Its strict sterilization is enforced, there is no bacterial or fungal contamination from coconut water. It is obtained by withdrawing the fluid from the nut through a tube inserted in the eye of the coconut. The fluid is then filtered to drain off any particles of coconut meat (anon 1954).
An interesting use of water from young coconuts is in combination with egg yolk as a dilutent for boar semen used for artificial insemination (Clamohoy 1962). Dilution is about 30%. In experiments no significant difference in sperm motility was observed among three dilutions: pure coconut embryo water, coconut embryo water and 1% egg yolk, and 5% egg yolk added to coconut embryo water. Breeding efficiency was highest with the first dilutent which had a conception rate 0f 50% followed by the second with 44.4%, and the third with 31.6%. The semen was held at 41oF for a maximum of 8 days. The normal time for holding semen under these conditions is 2 to 3 days.