Coconut water is the clear liquid extracted from the coconut fruit. It is a popular refreshing beverage throughout the tropical regions, thanks to the abundance of minerals and electrolytes (Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamins B,C, and Protein).
But, consumers aren’t usually aware of the different types of coconut water. Each one has a very different taste and health benefits. Knowing how to recognize each type can help you improve your diets and health benefits significantly.
In this article, we’ll look at two types of coconut water: Raw coconut water and young coconut water. These varieties are believed to have more health benefits than the regular packaged type at supermarkets. And we’ll look at the reasons below.
Nutritional Value of Coconut Water (100g Servings, Source: USDA)
What is young coconut water?
A coconut usually takes over 1 year to fully mature, divided into 3 stages.
Young coconut water is extracted from coconuts at the young stage of their growth cycle (usually between 3-5 months old). At this stage, the young coconut still has a bright green color and a soft husk. Thus, sometimes young coconut water is also called “green coconut water”.
Young coconut water has a more acidic taste, and is less sweet than the packaged coconut water at supermarkets. The juice also has less ‘coconut flavor’ than matured juice. At this stage, the juice inside the coconut is not fully developed, and it has less sugar content than normal.
At 6-8 months old, the coconut is considered ripened. The water from a ripened coconut has a sweeter taste and more recognizable coconut flavor. This is what you’ll most likely find at a supermarket.
At 10-12 months old, the coconut is considered matured, or old. At this stage, the coconut has very little water. All the nutrients and water have been used to germinate the fruit. The water from a matured coconut is very sour, with very little flavor.
What is raw coconut water?
Raw coconut water means that the juice is freshly extracted from the coconut. The raw coconut water has not gone through any preservation process like heating or pasteurization. Usually, both fresh and raw coconut water refer to the same concept.
Raw coconut water can fully preserve the juice’s nutrients, mineral contents and flavors. Because heat treatment can drastically reduce coconut water’s nutritional value. For example, when pasteurized at 85-90oC, enzyme activity in coconut water reduces by 95%.
However, raw coconut water has an extremely short shelf-life (less than a day). Enzyme activity in the coconut water will start breaking down the nutrients after leaving the husk. The raw coconut water will quickly lose nutrients and flavors in a few hours.
Is young coconut water good for you?
Young coconut water is best for people with blood sugar problems, or those looking to reduce the amount of sugar in their diet. This is because young coconut water has less sugar content than their ripened version.
However, since young coconuts aren’t fully developed, the flavor and nutrients aren’t at their peak. Consuming young coconut water will provide less nutrients, minerals and electrolytes than ripened coconut water. And most people prefer the aroma and sweetness of ripened coconuts.
Is raw coconut water good for you?
Raw coconut water is the best way to fully take advantage of coconut water’s health benefits. However, the only way to do this is to have direct access to coconut sources. This means you have to drink the coconut water right on the spot. You have to see the merchants crack the coconut right there, or buy pre-husked coconut shells like this one.
Any form of long-distance transportation and packaging will require preservation techniques, which means the water is no-longer raw. If you live in Australia, for example, the only way to drink raw coconut water is through direct exports from coconut-producing countries like Indonesia or Vietnam.
Both young and raw coconut water are great beverages for your health. They contain all the amazing health benefits and hydration effects of coconut water. However, to maximize the benefits received, you must choose the variety to include in your diet, according to your own needs and health status.