Dew From The Heavens: The Amazing Story of Coconut Water
For thousands of years, people in the tropical regions of the world have been cracking open young green coconuts and drinking the delicious water within. The benefits of coconut water have made the little "nuts" that could totally iconic and indispensable the world over.
The coconut palm, cocos nucifera , originated somewhere in the Indian ocean and thanks to its seed, the coconut’s, durability and floatability and the region's propensity for stormy weather, it didn’t take all that long for it to island hop it’s way throughout the area. Eventually, once someone realized their value, coconuts also began to be transported by traders even further. Being the excellent source of nutrients and hydration that young coconuts are, ship’s crews began stocked up on them for long voyages too, from Arab traders 2,000 years ago to the age of European exploration. The infamous mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty is even said to have been caused by coconut rationing.
As coconuts spread throughout the equatorial regions of the world via both their natural abilities as a floatation device and by hitching rides on trading ships, they became synonymous with tropical paradises. They have become so ubiquitous that it’s now impossible to picture a beautiful beach anywhere in the world without also imagining a lofty palm’s leaves rustling in the ocean breeze. Palm Beach County, Florida, even owes its namesake to the wreck of the Spanish vessel Providencia which dumped its cargo of 20,000 coconuts just of the coast.
Local traditions from all over the globe espouse the benefits of coconut water not only as a food but for its medicinal properties as well. Many cultures still encourage drinking coconut water during pregnancy along with using it to combat a broad swath of other conditions. Supposed to assist with treating and relieving ailments as varied as heat stroke, digestive issues, and even sterility, the historical uses of coconut water as a health tonic are astounding. Coconut water can even be used as a substitute for blood plasma in emergencies, as evident during World War II when soldiers were intravenously administered coconut water when saline supplies were hard to come by. While modern science may have discredited some of these cases, it has also made the nutritional benefits of coconut water undeniable with more amazing research being done every year.
Besides the myriad vitamins and minerals readily available in coconut water, the fact that coconut water is safe to drink naturally made it a total lifesaver in the past when drinking water could be very dangerous. Even in the modern world’s less developed areas where coconut palms grow, people stay hydrated in the hot tropical sun without exposing themselves to waterborne diseases with coconut water.
From hunter-gatherer types to 21st century movers and shakers, drinking coconut water has not only kept people hydrated in ways water never could, but it’s been literally saving lives all over the world. Small wonder the Hawaiian name for coconut water, noelani, means “dew from the heavens.”