Coconut water’s monetary and medical benefits
Young coconuts can yield more money for coconut farmers, because they contain water that is both delicious and nutritious, unlike the old coconuts.
According to Philippine Coconut Authority’s John Domogtoy (0928-5049718), young coconut is sold at the farm gate for P12 each (in retail outlets, the price goes up to P18 to P22). An old coconut, which is processed and sold as charcoal after much labor, sells for just P5.40 (P5 for its copra and P0.40 for its shell, which is sold as charcoal).
Coconut water from a young coconut, which is far superior in both nutrients and taste than that from old coconut, tastes as good as or even better than an energy or soft drink. It is cheaper, too.
However, the real advantage is its medicinal value. Unfortunately, this value is not known to most people. This lack of appreciation has led to low coconut demand, prompting farmers today to sell mostly old, rather than young, coconuts.
From the PHPKB Knowledge Base Software (www.knowledgebase-script.com), below are some of coconut water’s benefits.
“More nutrition than whole milk: less fat and no cholesterol;
“More healthy than orange juice: much lower calories;
“Better than processed baby milk: contains lauric acid, which is present in a human mother’s milk;
“Naturally sterile water permeates through the filtering husk; and
“Universal donor: identical to human blood plasma.
Compared to energy drinks, which are much more expensive, Martin Salin, chief of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said: “Coconut water is the very stuff of nature: biologically pure, full of natural sugars, salts and vitamins to ward off fatigue, and is the next wave of energy drinks, but natural.”
It has more potassium (294 mg vs. 117mg), less sodium (25 mg vs. 200 mg), Less sugar (5 mg of natural sugars vs. 10.25 mg of altered sugars), and is higher in chloride (118 mg vs. 39 mg).
Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell and Dr. Bruce Fife cite coconut water research in three important areas.
For cholesterol control, a case study showed that HDL (good) cholesterol levels increased by 46.2 percent. Liver cholesterol was reduced by 26.31 percent. The risk of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) decreased by 41.1 percent.
For the urinary system, Dr. Eugenio Macalalag, Urology Department head of the Chinese General Hospital, reported that of his 1,670 recurring stone-forming patients who took coconut water, only 13 percent had stone recurrence in a 10-year period. He jokes: “Taking coconut water a day keeps the urologist away.”
For sexual capacity, coconut water increased libido and enhanced performance. Even women in their mid-60s reported an increase in libido after drinking young coconut water.
The coconut industry is the largest agricultural sector in the country. It has 3.3 million farmers and farm workers, more than the 3 million that the rice sector employs. But it is also the poorest sector, as it received only P1.5 billion from the 2012 national budget. This is less than 5 percent of the budget allocated for rice. It is therefore important to look at additional means to help coconut farmers.
An important way is for the government and private sector to increase the awareness of the public regarding coconut water’s benefits.
Today, the demand for coconut water is low because awareness is low. Because of this, the farmer cannot sell the young coconuts, which provide the valuable coconut water.
Instead, most coconut farmers go through the tedious process of waiting for the coconut to mature, get the coconut meat from the husk, dry it, burn it, and finally sell it as copra. After all this tedious work, one mature coconut’s copra will yield P5. The shell can be burned and sold as charcoal for P0.40.
Comparing the P5.40 from an old coconut with all that labor with P12 from a young coconut just plucked from a tree, and considering that coconut farms are present in 69 out of 81 provinces, a drive to promote awareness of coconut water and its health benefits is long overdue. Aside from money to be made from coconut water for our 3.3 million coconut farmers, there is the significant health benefit for our 94 million Filipino consumers.
(The author is chairman of Agriwatch, former secretary for presidential flagship programs and projects, and former undersecretary for Agriculture, and Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail [email protected] or telefax 8522112.)
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