When it comes to keeping your child hydrated, there is nothing like plain water. However, if you are looking for a different, natural source of hydration, coconut water is a healthy option. Coconut water is low in calories, has zero fat and cholesterol, and has more potassium than four bananas. It is a natural sports drink and its demand has increased in recent times as it helps manage cancer and kidney stones. Coconut water has a naturally sweet and nutty taste too. It is rich in carbohydrates in the form of sugar that can be easily digested, as well as electrolytes. Unlike high-fat coconut milk and oil, coconut water is a clear liquid that is found in the centre of the fruit of young and green coconuts.
Coconut water also has lower sugar than sodas and packaged fruit juices, thus making it a nutritious beverage for kids. However, drinking it in excessive quantities can add on to the calories, and so moderation is the key. Coconut water does not cause nausea, stomach upset, or fullness, and does not replace any meal in your child’s diet. There are plenty of benefits of coconut water for toddlers. Coconut water can be given to ill children too, especially if they need to rehydrate after diarrhoea or vomiting.
Some of the benefits of coconut water for kids are as follows:
- Rich source of nutrients: Coconuts are found on large palm trees called Cocosnucifera. So, it is a fruit rather than a nut. The juice that is found in the centre of this fruit helps in nourishing it. After maturity, some of the juice remains in the liquid form while the rest ripens into solid white flesh known as coconut meat. Thus, coconut water is formed naturally and is 94% water. It has fats in minuscule amounts. This is completely different from coconut milk, which is 50% water and has lots of fat. Coconuts fully mature in 10 to 12 months. You can find coconut water in young coconuts when they have matured by 6 to 7 months. One green coconut on an average gives 0.5 to 1 cup of coconut water. Nutrients in coconut water i.e., 1 cup or 240ml of water contains 9g of carbohydrates, 3g of fibre, 2g of protein and lots of vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and calcium.
- Antioxidant properties: During metabolism, some unstable molecules called free radicals are produced in the body, which increase if your kids have undergone any stress or injury lately. When these free radicals increase, the body undergoes oxidative stress, which causes damage to the cells and increases the risk of different diseases. Coconut water has lots of antioxidants which can modify these free radicals, thus preventing any harm.
- Diabetes management: Coconut water is known to lower blood sugar levels. Studies have also shown that coconut water lowers hbA1c, thus helping in the management of blood sugar for a long time. Owing to 3g of fibre and 6g of carbohydrates, coconut water can be a perfect fit in a diabetic’s meal plan.
- Prevention of kidney stones: Kidney stones are usually found when compounds like calcium and oxalate combine to form crystals in urine. Coconut water prevents crystals from sticking to the kidneys and parts of the urinary tract. It can also reduce the number of crystals in urine. Its antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals, which happen as a result of high oxalates in the urine.
- Keeps the heart healthy: Coconut water reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides. It also reduces liver fat.
- Reduction of blood pressure: Coconut water improves systolic blood pressure, as it has lots of potassium that can lower blood pressure. This water has anti-thrombotic properties too, which can prevent the unnatural formation of blood clots.
- Beneficial drink after playtime or exercise: Coconut water helps in replenishing the electrolytes that might be lost during any sort of physical activity. Electrolytes like potassium, sodium, and calcium are very important for maintaining proper fluid balance.
- Tasty source of hydration: Coconut water is slightly sweet and nutty in taste. Drinking directly from the coconut makes it a very fresh beverage too. You can even refrigerate coconut and consume it within two to three weeks. Bottled coconut water is also available but make sure you read the nutrition label. Coconut water is also used to make smoothies and salad dressings.
Once you get your kids habituated to coconut water, they will eventually moderate their consumption of aerated or sweetened beverages like colas and sodas too.