06 April 2011

Coconuts - Things I Didn't Know

I love coconut. I’m not talking about that shredded, sweetened crap one buys in US supermarkets. I’m referring to fresh coconuts that are picked off the tree, machete-ed opened, and drunk. And when you’re finished, you have the guy crack that baby open so that you can scoop out the gelatinous inners and have dessert.

OK, so you live in the US or Europe or some other place where palm trees don’t grow coconuts. That’s a good reason for never having tried them. I, on the other hand, have spent a good many years in parts of the world where coconuts grow in most people’s back yards. So how is it that now, after all these years in extreme proximity to the product, am I just learning of its medicinal properties?

My leg was cramping about a month ago and I knew I was getting dehydrated. I drink tons of water and had rehydration salts, but nothing was really helping. I’d searched for Gatorade but couldn’t find it. And then I was told to go out and get a coconut. A coconut? For dehydration? It seems that coconut water is all I needed to replace the electrolytes that I had been losing.

Further research turned up the fact that during WWII, coconut water was used in place of plasma when supplies ran short. It is still used to this day as an IV saline solution; so much is it like the body’s own fluids. But possibly the most amazing fact I learned is that it is packed with potassium. The equivalent of 15 bananas!

About two years I read something about needing all these milligrams of potassium per/day and had not been able to work out how to do that. There was nowhere near the amount I was supposed to be ingesting in any of the food combinations I could come up with. Granted, if I am not in the tropics, I can’t eat a coconut a day, so I am making sure I get my daily dosage while in Vietnam.
I am also sort of mad at myself for not knowing this sooner. I wasted years not taking advantage of the local coconuts. Even though I have always thought that their water and meat was sublime, I simply never ate that many.

I'm busy making up for lost time.