No fruit can beat tender nut

Nowadays everybody is conscious about the health and side effects of synthetic drinks.  In this context, tender nut water is natural and God’s gift as a natural drink.  It has calorific value of 17.4 per 100 g, with the pH varies between 4.9 and 5.2. 

The cavity inside the nut differentiates itself in the second month and increases considerably reaching its maximum size which is normally in the sixth month. They are full with nut water throughout this period. The meat starts forming as a thin and soft layer in the 6th month and increases its hardness and quantity to the very end though the rate of increase declines as the nuts ripen. The drink is at its optimum level of acceptability and economic viability for commercial use when the nuts are of 6 to 8 months maturity.  In coconut, there are varieties which are suitable for tender nut purpose and fetches higher market prices.  The short stature varieties such as Chowghat Orange dwarf is one of the most preferred variety for tender nut purpose.  Other varieties such Malayan orange and yellow dwarf, Chowghat Green Dwarf are also suitable.

Chemical constituents

The composition of coconut water varies depending on the variety, maturity of the nut, condition of the soil and climatic condition. The major chemical constituents of coconut water are sugars and minerals and minor ones are fat, proteins and other nitrogenous substances.

a) Sugars: Sugars form an important constituent of the tender nut water. The concentration of sugar in the nut water steadily increases from about 1.5 per cent to about 5-5.5 per cent in the early months of maturation and then slowly falls reaching about 2 degrees Fahrenheit at the stage of the full maturity of the nut. In the early stages of maturity, sugars are in the forms of glucose and fructose (reducing sugars) and sucrose (non reducing sugars) appears only in later stages, which increases with the maturity while the reducing sugars fall.

b) Minerals: The tender coconut water contains most of the minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, sulphur and magnesium. Among the minerals more than half is potassium the concentration of which is markedly by influenced by potash manuring.

c) Proteins: Coconut water contains small amounts of protein. The nitrogen and total protein content of coconut water increases gradually with maturation. The percentages of arginine, alanine, cystine and serene in the protein of tender coconut water are reported to be higher than those in cow’s milk!

d) Vitamins: Tender coconut water contains both ascorbic acid and vitamins of B group.

e) Fat: Water of unripe nut contains 0.12 per cent fat and the water of ripe nut contains 0.15 per cent fat; The reduction in sugar content is also associated with an increase in the oil percentage of the kernel.

f) Effervescence and flavour: Tender coconut water is reported to be under hydrostatic pressure, which might facilitate the dissolution of CO2 in water. Therefore, effervescence appears in the water on opening a tender nut at proper stage. Depletion of water on maturation causes an empty space into which the gases escape and therefore effervescence is usually not observed in the matured nut water. The characteristic and pleasant flavor of tender coconut water is contributed by delta lactones, which are found to diminish slowly with maturity/aging. It is this labile flavor which is most difficult to preserve and which is sought after by the consumers.

Medicinal properties

The coconut water is sweet and has got numerous medicinal properties such as good for feeding infants suffering from intestinal disturbances, Oral rehydration medium, contains organic compounds possessing growth promoting properties, keeps the body cool.

Application on the body prevents prickly heat and summer boils and subsides the rashes caused by small pox, chicken pox, measles etc.It also kills intestinal worms, presence of saline and albumen makes it a good drink in cholera cases, checks urinary infections, excellent tonic for the old and sick and cures malnourishment.It is also diuretic, effective in the treatment of kidney and urethral stones, found as blood plasma substitute because it is sterile, does not produce heat, does not destroy red blood cells and is readily accepted by the body, aids the quick absorption of the drugs and makes their peak concentration in the blood easier by its electrolytic effect, urinary antiseptic and eliminates poisons in case of mineral poisoning and an antidote to ward off the ill effects of tobacco and alcohol.

Tender nut is nature’s drink for thirst, health and vigour. Drink a tender nut a day and keep good health forever.

Dr H P Maheswarappa, Principal Scientist (Agronomy),CPCRI, Kasaragod

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