Coconut Water Health Benefits and Nutritional Information

Coconut Water is a natural isotonic drink second in purity only to clean drinking water, but full of essential vitamins and minerals (potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, phosphorous and magnesium) in perfect balance. Even though (strangely) there isn’t much buzz about the undeniable health benefits of coconut water, this refreshing beverage overshadows popular superfoods with ease. The electrolytes contained in coconut water match the electrolytic balance of human blood which allows the surgeons in tropical and sub-tropical countries to use it as blood transfusion fluid straight out of the nut. This practise was popularized during World War II when both sides of the Pacific conflict gave emergency blood transfusion to their wounded soldiers directly from the shell of a freshly opened, young coconut. However, you do not have to be wounded to benefit from drinking coconut water. Because it is absolutely essential for a long term traveler to look after their health while on the road, let’s take a closer look at the health benefits and nutritional information of the universal well-being superfood – coconut water.

Photo: To Maximize Health Benefits, Drink Coconut Water Fresh with a Straw Right After Opening
Photo: To Maximize Health Benefits, Drink Coconut Water Fresh with a Straw Right After Opening

Coconut Water Health Benefits

Indigenous people from tropical regions have been aware of coconut water health benefits for centuries and drank it to gain vitality and boost immunity. Laboratory studies of organic compounds found in coconut water conclude that the beverage contains properties that can significantly benefit and dramatically improve one’s health. Moreover, coconut water is 100% natural, completely free of chemicals and kept perfectly sterile (free from harmful bacteria) by an impenetrable shell making the water safe for people of all ages, including babies. The lauric acid found in coconut water is identical to that found in human breast milk.

Regular consumption of coconut water has demonstrated several significant health benefits:

  • Naturally Improves Immunity – body’s natural ability to fight diseases
  • Increases Metabolism – can assist with weight loss by increasing body’s ability to burn excessive fat
  • Increases HDL Cholesterol – alters levels of good cholesterol (High Density Lipoprotein) to battle off the negative effects of bad LDL cholesterol
  • Detoxifies the Body – assists in the process of removal of harmful toxins from the body
  • Regulates Intestinal Function – healthy intestines are an essential part of well being. clean intestines significantly improve complexion
  • Antiviral – our bodies convert Lauric Acid into monolaurin which has been shown to fight off lipid coated viruses, such as Herpes, Flu, Cytomegalovirus, as well as the deadly HIV virus known to cause AIDS
  • Antibacterial – virus killing monolaurin is also known for its bacteria fighting properties. It is also a potent antiprozoal monoglyceride
  • Re-Hydrates and Revives – badly wounded soldiers were revived with coconut water
  • Boosts Energy – coconut water is an isotonic beverage full of natural electrolytes. High calcium, cholesterol free content boosts vigor after workout
  • Low Calorie and Low Sodium Content – most juices and commercially available soft drinks contain more calories and more sodium
  • Reduces High Blood Pressure – Journal of Clinical Hypertension noted that people suffering from hypertension show low levels of potassium. Coconut Water can fix that
  • Balances Body’s PH – combination of cytokinins and lauric acid helps maintain healthy PH. Proper PH significantly reduces the risk of cancer.
  • Controls Diabetes – helps by balancing blood sugar levels
  • Treats Kidney Stones – normalizes the acidity in kidneys which helps prevent kidney stones from forming in the first place. If kidney stones already exist, coconut water can reduce their size upon regular drinking
  • Relieves Urinary Problems – people suffering from polyutra, strangury or other urinary problems could see their symptoms relieved upon regular consumption of coconut water
  • Eases Stomach Pains and Vomiting – often taken by women with painful menstruation, but also works great with people suffering from Malaria or Typhoid
  • Reduces Risk of Cancer – through supply of essential minerals and vitamins, coconut water could prevent mutation of genes that leads to cancer. Furthermore, Cytokinins help regulate the divisions of cell and their growth
  • Kills Intestinal Worms – when consumed with olive oil for at least three consecutive days, coconut water has been found to kill intestinal worms
Photo: Fresh Harvest of Young Coconuts - Source of Coconut Water in Cambodia
Photo: Fresh Harvest of Young Coconuts - Source of Coconut Water in Cambodia

Coconut Water Nutritional Information

  • Coconut Water contains more essential nutrients than whole milk but unlike milk, it contains NO cholesterol and has fewer calories (less fat)
  • Coconut Water is healthier and contains more nutrients than Orange Juice AND has fewer calories
  • Coconut Water contains Lauric Acid which is present in milk from the breasts of breastfeeding mothers making it superior to processed baby milk
  • Coconut Water is naturally sterile (free from any harmful bacteria)
  • Coconut Water is identical to human blood plasma making it a universal donor (referred to as Coconut IV in the Third World Countries)
  • Coconut Water contains isotonic levels identical to human blood. It is hence the best and Natural Isotonic Beverage

Coconut Water as Natural Energy Drink

One glass of Coconut Water (100 ml) contains more potassium than a banana and more electrolytes than most commercially available sports drinks (energy beverages). Below is a comparison to demonstrate mineral qualities and health benefits of coconut water versus that of average sports drinks.

Average content of minerals found in 100 ml of coconut water compared to the content of the same minerals in 100 ml of an average sports drink:

Coconut Water: 294 mg
Sports Drinks: 117 mg

Coconut Water: 118 mg
Sports Drinks: 39mg

Coconut Water: 25 mg
Sports Drinks: 41 mg

Coconut Water: 5 mg (natural sugars)
Sports Drinks: 10 – 25 mg (processed sugars)

Coconut Harvesting

Good news is that the superfood we call Coconut Water grows on its own, with no human input needed and one coconut tree can blossom as many as 13 times a year. It takes about a year for a drupe to mature, but with 60 coconuts picked on average per harvest per tree, the supply is continuous and available year round.

The Best Way to Drink Coconut Water

Because coconut water quickly loses most of its nutritional characteristic and starts to ferment after exposure to air, to maximize health benefits, it is best to drink coconut water fresh, right after the nut has been cracked open. Fresh coconuts are widely available throughout South East Asia, Pacific Island or the Caribbean and are very inexpensive. Vendor would slice small opening into the shell of the drupe with a machete, exposing the water inside. You can easily and comfortably drink the water with a straw. If the coconut is cracked open upon your purchase, the freshness is guaranteed. Put the straw in and drink it in small gulps right away, enjoying the refreshing taste and instant boost to your body and your spirit.

Photo: After You Have Finished Drinking Coconut Water, Have the Drupe Halved to Scrape Off and Eat Equally Healthy Coconut Meat
Photo: After You Have Finished Drinking Coconut Water, Have the Drupe Halved to Scrape Off and Eat Equally Healthy Coconut Meat

Coconut Water vs Coconut Milk

Coconut milk and coconut water are not the same thing. While coconut water is the fluid found inside young coconuts, coconut milk is an extract form the lining inside a coconut (meat).

Coconut Water Side Effects

Being low in carbohydrates, low in sugar and 99% fat free, coconut water helps maintain proper body temperature and promotes natural growth. Coconut water is hands down the best natural drink on the face of the planet that’s safe for babies, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, elderly, etc. There are no known side effect to drinking coconut water so unless one suffers from nut allergies, drinking coconut water can only deliver health benefits.

Despite undeniable health benefits, though my friend Ted who’s a doctor in Thailand warned me that because of high levels of potassium, coconut water could be potentially dangerous to people with weak kidneys. If your kidneys don’t function very well, high doses of fluid with high potassium content could lead to kidney failure or a heart attack.


Please note that I am not a doctor and information found within is not a substitute for an advice from health practitioners. Facts provided in this article are based on my own experiences drinking coconut water as well as experiences of other people I have had a chance to interview. Coconut water nutritional information and list of health benefits provided herein are the result of thorough research of studies found on the internet and other relevant media and are provided with best intentions, however I can not guarantee their accuracy. It is my sincere hope that each and every person reading this article experiences nothing but improvement in their health and well-being. If you believe that any part of the article is inaccurate, please do not hesitate to contact me with correct statements. Cheers :o)

Pchum Ben Festival in Cambodia – Feeding the Spirits of the Dead

As I was receiving my introduction to Buddhism, I was told about the reason why Wat Preah Prom Rath pagoda was so full of people, why traditional Khmer music was being played from a loudspeaker why there was so much food all over the place. It was the first day of Pchum Ben Festival, which was loosely translated to me as The Festival of the Dead or sometimes as The Festival of the Souls (or spirits).

Pchum Ben is a Buddhist Festival but even though Cambodia is surrounded by other Theravada Buddhist nations, Pchum Ben is only celebrated in Cambodia and nowhere else. Pchum Ben Festival celebrations last for 15 days with final, culminating day falling on the 15th day of the 10th month of the Khmer calendar. Granted, Khmer calendar is different from the Gregorian one which is the one used by western countries so even though it was the beginning of September, the Pchum Ben Festival has already started.

Cambodian Buddhists Praying During Pchum Ben Festival at Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple
Cambodian Buddhists Praying During Pchum Ben Festival at Wat Preah Prom Rath Temple

The most prominent observation a foreigner notices during Cambodian Pchum Ben Festival is the fact that it involves a lot of food. You see Khmer families coming to temples and pagodas carrying dishes with food which they arrange along the walkways while they spend hours chanting prayers inside temples, kneeling before statues of Buddha. As it was explained to me, the food is meant for the dead. The premise of Pchum Ben Festival is to feed the spirits of the dead. Cambodians firmly believe that the act of feeding the souls of their deceased predecessors will make their stay on Earth more enjoyable.

During Pchum Ben the spirits of the dead descend from the spirit world and walk the Earth. Those who are still alive prey for their souls and offer them food. As it goes with Buddhist Monks in Cambodia, people also bring food for them. The festival is very spiritual and considerably one of the most important festivals in Khmer calendar. As the history of Pchum Ben has it, the festival was originally celebrated for three months but has been shortened to 15 days as modern lifestyle makes 3 months of celebration complicated.

After me and my girl guide were done talking about the life of Buddha, we went to the prayer hall where several people were already gathered and chanted their prayers as one while their chants were played back from a loudspeaker. As confused westerner, I asked if I could join them for a prayer and take a few pictures while I was at it. There was no issue with that as Cambodians are vastly tolerant of foreigners when it comes to cultural and religious differences.

Pchum Ben - Festival of the Dead, Notice the Time on the Clock. I Had 15 Minutes Till my English Lecture at 5pm
Pchum Ben - Festival of the Dead, Notice the Time on the Clock. I Had 15 Minutes Till my English Lecture at 5pm

This was the beginning of Pchum Ben Festival but as it became apparent during the following 15 days, Pchum Ben was a big deal for Khmer people who take the festival very seriously and dedicate most of their focus to it while the festivities last. Even Cambodians who are otherwise non religious would prepare their food and bring the offerings to one of the temples. during Pchum Ben Little did I know at the time that the most significant events of my personal stay in Cambodia will be directly connected to Pchum Ben. Let the festivities begin!

Home Cocktail Restaurant in Siem Reap

Tired and worn out from exposure to heat I was not used to, I headed back to my room at Two Dragons. It’s been a while since I’ve had my breakfast at Khmer Family Restaurant and my stomach was becoming vocal about getting some more food so I went for walk within the vicinity of Two Dragons guesthouse to see where I could have supper. The Home Cocktail Restaurant is only 1 minute walk from Two Dragons, around the corner, directly on Wat Bo Road.

Rustic Look Adds Atmosphere to the Home Cocktail Restaurant
Rustic Look Adds Atmosphere to the Home Cocktail Restaurant

Since my first introduction to Cambodian food I’ve been using Khmer Family Restaurant as benchmark. While my happy day special which included food and Angkor Beer cost only $3, I decided to give the Home Cocktail Restaurant a try even though their set was listed in the menu at $4. But unlike Khmer Family Restaurant, $4 at Home Cocktail Restaurant also landed me with a starter (2 springrolls with spicy, yet tasty dip) and a desert (fried banana – so yummy).

While dining at Home Cocktail Restaurant I have noticed rather unpleasant way Khmer establishment treat their customers. A person who is serving you will be there, right behind your shoulder at all times. From their standpoint this means that they are always there, ready to serve you. However from your standpoint it looks extremely awful, makes you feel uncomfortable and pressured. This wasn’t an incident isolated to Home Cocktail Restaurant, it’s all over you place and bit by bit you will be taking it for granted, yet it always makes for a very unpleasant feeling. I will elaborate on this later.

Home Cocktail Restaurant Interior Features Character Furnishing
Home Cocktail Restaurant Interior Features Character Furnishing

It is necessary to point out that my server at Home Cocktail Restaurant was very courteous and professional at all times. Food was absolutely delicious from first bite at the springroll, through main course all the way to desert. I have subsequently visited Home Cocktail Restaurant several times while I was still housed at Two Dragons. That only lasted for one week so after I have moved out of there, it was also the end of me eating at Home Cocktail Restaurant.

It is an amazing restaurant which I would not hesitate to recommend. The decoration and overall feel of the restaurant is very rustic so aside from eating local food, you will also feel local from the outside. I really liked it there. One day I dined there during heavy rainfall and the only unpleasant thing were mosquitoes. The thatched rooftop covering the patio, bamboo chairs, wooden walls with large cart wheels made for pleasant stay while rain was ravaging just feet away from me. Home Cocktail Restaurant = great dining establishment.

Front End of the Home Cocktail Restaurant in Siem Reap
Front End of the Home Cocktail Restaurant in Siem Reap

Dining at Khmer Family Restaurant in Siem Reap

As big fan of Asian food, I could not wait to have my first Asian meal in an Asian country. Sure, I did have my authentic Korean dish aboard Korean Air flight from Vancouver to Seoul, but I wasn’t quite in an Asian country yet. Now I was – Siem Reap in all its glory.

Since there was no buying for me at the Center Market, I continued on, told 500 other Tuk Tuk drivers that I was fine and didn’t need any ride, weed, cocaine, bum bum (that’s what they call the act of fornication) or anything else and turned left on Sivatha Bulevard, which appeared to be the main street in Siem Reap, according to the map in the Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide. The map also suggested that there was a high concentration of stuff to the left which is why I turned there, instead of heading right.

There is a large corner building that houses Canadia Bank, which had the sound of Canada to its name – my homeland. That’s where I slid to the 2 Thnou Street and followed along passing by a number of massage parlors, pharmacies and other shops. The thought of eating my first Asian food in Asia has driven me forward so I have disregarded all other, albeit attractive shops and focused strictly on restaurants. At one point I spotted one right on the corner of 2 Thnou Street and Street #8 and walked in to check the menu. I was immediately approached by the server who stood by my side as I was checking what they had for eating. Given information I have gathered from on line research, I believed that this restaurant was a bit overpriced so I excused myself, much to the disappointment of the server who believed I was a sure fish and followed up that Street 8 where there seemed to be one restaurant after another on both sides.

One that immediately caught my eye was called Khmer Family Restaurant. Not only did the name applied that this was a locally run restaurant with local management so my purchase would support locals, but the name also suggested that I would be eating local food, which would certainly greatly enhance my first dining experience in Cambodia. Khmer Family Restaurant it was. I stepped in, seated myself on a patio under the fabric roof as heat within the walls of an establishment without air-conditioning would be unbearable and asked for a menu and a $.50 draught beer they had advertised on the sign facing the street.

Entrance to the Khmer Family Restaurant with view of the Patio as Seen from the Street #8 in Siem Reap
Entrance to the Khmer Family Restaurant with view of the Patio as Seen from the Street #8 in Siem Reap. Notice the Signs Which Read that Draught Beer is Only $0.50 and Free WiFi Internet is Offered to Patrons

I was served by a beautiful Khmer girl and ordered Curry Fish with Rice. It was still early morning, but closer to about 8am by now and the temperature outside reached truly intolerable level. I did not want to know what it’s going to be like during mid day hours. As I was sitting on a patio close to the street, I was being repeatedly approached by street people. Little girl – could not have been more than 6 years came to beg me to buy a bracelet from her. Realizing these kids are trained to play with tourists’ feelings and used as easy tools to get money from otherwise refusing foreigners, I stood my ground and respectfully declined. Afterall, weight of my luggage was enough of a burden as it was. Adding to it with keepsakes was not an option by any stretch of imagination.

Kids kept coming. Both boys and girls, couples and groups, selling t-shirts, postcards, guide books, scarves, and everything else that can be sold. I was approached by someone twice a minute. Victims of landmines were the most difficult to turn down. Those people miss limbs, some miss parts of their chest or several limbs. Many don’t speak English and bear signs with well tailored sales copies that will hit the sympathy nerves of even the hardest to break individuals.

I remember that one guy coming with clutches bearing a box tied to his neck and a sign in his hand which said that he’s not begging, only trying to work which is hard now that he’s got no legs. So he’s selling guide books. It was extremely difficult to turn that person down, but I’ve only been out in the open for 30 minutes and if I already started spending on items I don’t need, where would I be in a week from now?

When Dining at Khmer Family Restaurant, You Get Seated on Comfortable Chairs Made of Bamboo
When Dining at Khmer Family Restaurant, You Get Seated on Comfortable Chairs Made of Bamboo

When my meal was served to me, my eyes started to glitter. The presentation was awesome and when I took my first mouthful, I was in seventh heaven. The curry fish was served in a bowl made of fresh banana leaves held together by staples (lol, that one part kind of spoilt it all, but still impressive presentation), and dose of rice was served on a side of a larger tray that housed both. It looked fantastic and tasted even better. My taste buds were having the feast of the lifetime. It was a delicious dish which along with draught beer cost a total of $3 US. Wow.

Curry Fish Served in a Banana Leaf with Rice - My First Meal in Cambodia
Curry Fish Served in a Banana Leaf with Rice - My First Meal in Cambodia

My first impressions after dining at the Khmer Family Restaurant were more than positive. I could not have asked for a better place to have myself introduced to the local kitchen and have my first normal interaction with local people (only Khmer aka native Cambodians work at the Khmer Family Restaurant).

Licking myself all over after finishing my meal, rejecting offers from dozens of other people who attempted to sell me something, then rejected dozens of Tuk Tuk drivers who pulled over just to offer me a ride somewhere after I’m done eating, hanging on tightly to my camera bag so someone doesn’t snatch it, I went to pay for my bill. I left a generous $1 tip, which is a ridiculous amount to pay as a tip, but given that my total bill was $3, my $1 tip represented a 33% uppage. That’s perhaps why that gorgeous girl who served me my breakfast was so surprised and asked if I was serious that this $1 was for her… Hmmm, even though broke, this dining experience at the Khmer Family Restaurant in Siem Reap made me feel wealthy for a minute.

I have tried many restaurants after this initiation to the world of Cambodian dining, but Khmer Family Restaurant remained my favourite for a few weeks. Given that this was my first dining experience in Cambodia, I was generally happy with my choice. An amazing restaurant with great food, fair prices and as I have discovered later – great internet with free WiFi for customers. I was about to become a loyal customer but it didn’t last very long. Unfortunately, being a Khmer run business, they don’t care much about establishing a loyal clientele and are extremely lazy so when something needs attention, instead of taking care of it, they’d laugh at you for their inability to resolve it.

For example, when internet wasn’t working, I asked if someone could take a look at the router thinking that it may need restarting, but when after 45 minutes nobody bothered to take a walk upstairs to take a look, I had to ask again which was responded to by everyone having themselves a good laugh that I haven’t had any internet access for almost an hour. When this unprofessionalism (not necessarily limited to the Khmer Family Restaurant, as it is the nature of all Khmer run businesses) got in the way of me requesting to have the cook stop adding MSG to my food because it was making me sick, I knew it was time to quit patronising this establishment. Not only would no one bother to follow my request to quit adding MSG to my dishes, they even had themselves a good laugh at me because it was their food that was causing my intense stomach problems. Needless to say, what started as a good relationship was swiftly ended when their true colors showed up. Unfortunately, this type of behaviour is typical of any Khmer run business.

Enjoying Angkor Beer at Khmer Family Restaurant
Enjoying Angkor Beer at Khmer Family Restaurant