Bottled Versus Fresh: What’s in a Coconut?
As a Filipino coconut-lover, I have an opinion or two about coconuts (or buko, as we like to call them). Buko, fresh off the tree and expertly hacked by experienced/ careful hands is the best way to go. One thing I feel people miss out on if they’ve only experienced coconut water and pulp in a can is that the taste and flavor are significantly different. While there are tons of products out there now bottling coconut water with different ways for preserving taste, I discovered they had one thing in common: they couldn’t keep the freshness. And a whole lot might be missing from a can/bottle as well.
A quick google search on the benefits of fresh coconut water tells me that this hydrating platypus of a fruit/seed/nut is high in potassium, electrolytes and zero on the cholesterol. If consumed fresh, it carries a surprising amount of vitamin c, calcium and magnesium. It also aids digestion and reduces blood pressure. The flavor is subtle. And if the pulp is soft enough to scoop, the taste is just as refreshing, delicious and filling. But does the bottled version hold a candle to fresh coconut? Is all that nutrient goodness still there?
This is where I come in to investigate. I swear this was not an excuse to have buko everyday.
Canned Coconut Water Challenge
Day 1 -First of all, this is not a detox of a cleanse. I just did what I normally did except I replaced my morning tea/coffee with coconut juice and I did so again at night as a beverage. The brand I used is called Ice Cool Young Coconut, a popular brand in the Philippines and I believe it is a Thai product. I guess my can of coconut juice was refreshing. I’m trying not to get this experiment started on a biased note but canned coconut juice has a distinct flavor with an odd aftertaste. I’m already wishing I had the fresher version-NO! Must keep going. As a morning beverage, it’s pretty ok. In the evening, before I went for a run, a second coconut juice beverage was a good perk up before crying on the treadmill but no identifiable differences in my workout.
Day 2 -I had a can with my lunch. Once again I did feel a bit more alert. I had another bottle during my night shift at my restaurant job. Honestly there is a notable difference in my energy but not that much.
Day 3 -While I know there are differences in flavor with other brands, they’re all no match for my biased love of the real thing. HOWEVER this is still a hydrating drink. I think it’s important that consumers of bottle coconut water understand that the preservatives and other ingredients in their canned/ bottled juice is absolutely necessary to keep the shelf life of these beverages long. No identifiable changes to my workout today but I think I had a pretty good run.
Day 4 -Another day, another can of coconut water. As far as weight loss, nothing has changed and I doubt that my canned coconut intake would’ve made an effect if I tried this long term. Still a hydrating refreshment. I opted not to go running today but my energy felt good.
Day 5- Last day and onward to fresh buko! I do think a can or bottle of coconut is great for workouts. It might even be a good alternative to other sports drinks people consume. I also think I need to commend this beverage I’ve been drinking because on my last day, I needed a perk up when I arrived to work drowsy. Felt better the rest of the day. So maybe there is still some good in bottled coconut water.
Fresh Buko Juice Challenge
Day 1 -Ahhhhhh nothing beats fresh coconut. The coconuts I bought from the market are of the Thai variety. There is a definite difference in flavor -most Philippine buko has a lighter flavor and the sweetness is close to neutral. Sometimes you might get a sour one. But coconuts from Thailand have a stronger, sweeter coconut flavor when fresh. The pulp in my first coconut was thick but easily scoopable, so I’m glad I decided to have this during breakfast rather than after lunch. This is definitely more filling than bottled coconut juice. I would’ve had another coconut before going out for a run but this stuff is very filling. Energy felt great.
Day 2 -So I made a mistake today. I did mention above that coconuts are good for digestion. Well today, in a fit of too much enthusiasm, I had one coconut for lunch and another one a few hours later before going for a run on my elliptical machine. Let’s just say I couldn’t go to work that day. I had to stay close to a bathroom. It might depend on the person, but if you want to go for a cleanse, two coconuts a day will do. More if you’re not like me but one coconut was definitely my limit. Because of my accidental cleanse day, I felt good after all the, um, bathroom activities.
Day 3 -I only had a coconut for breakfast. Felt full after drinking and eating and didn’t have toast. That was wrong. I felt hungry afterwards. And kinda needed coffee. Coconut may be filling but it’s a not a good alternative to a good meal. I don’t know what it is about coconut but I definitely been feeling perky. I ran for an hour today and feel like I could’ve ran faster.
Day 4 -After discovering that coconuts weren’t a good alternative to coffee, I decided to just have a coconut after going for a run. Fresh coconut is definitely a good alternative to Gatorade after a workout. In terms of how much energy a coconut can give, it hasn’t made much of a difference in my workouts. I think I overestimated how energizing this can be. It’s as good, maybe better, than eating a banana. I’ve met to notice a change in my energy or workouts so this was best consumed afterwards.
Day 5–10 -I kinda bought too many coconuts hence why the extention for this part of the challenge. But there’s a reason why. Drinking this prior to a meal might be why I lost 2kgs. I discovered this today while weighing myself. Very little had changed in my eating habits except that I ate less when I had a coconut prior to the meal. Not only is this a nutritional drink, when done right, you can lose weight! I may have been wrong about coconuts giving me more energy but it’s still a healthy beverage!
What Did I Learn This from Challenge: I like fresh coconut better, for one. Fresh coconut is definitely a great alternative to sports drinks and other drinks people use to replenish after workouts. I don’t think canned coconut juice did as much as fresh buko did, health-wise but the sugar content in a canned of the juice was a good pick-me-up. Other than that, fresh coconut is a great fruit for healthy eating.
Questions I’m pretending someone else is asking me:
Is fresh coocnut good for doing cleanses? Oh my God. Definitely. But test out how many you need before you, uhh, require a bathroom first.
Could one use it for diets? Tentatively, I say sure. Have it before a meal. That way you can fill up but you’re not eating as much since you just ate and drank fresh coconut. The pulp definitely FEELS filling after eating it but you will definitely get hungry later if consumed on its own. (PLEASE NOTE: I speak only from my experience. Consult a nutritionist if you want to diet in a healthy manner and don’t blindly follow my example, yo. DO NOT make this a meal alternative).
How do you cut this damn thing? Carefully. There are a ton of youtube vids on how and some are very different from one another. The way I do it, I use a cleaver and hack the top off. I keep my other hand out of the way and use it to balance the coconut on its side. When my cleaver has gotten hold of the coconut, I push the cleaver down. The hard shell core within is surprisingly easy to cut with a cleaver when done right. If I did not hit the core, I repeat this step. Sometimes I use the floor because on a table, hacking it just sounds like I’m renovating my house (my floor’s made of concrete and tile. Don’t do this with something easily damaged like wood).
Is canned/ bottled coconut any good? I think they still make healthy alternatives to sodas. But they’re not as filling and strike me as not as healthy as fresh. But we can probably say the same thing for bottled orange juice. I am aware not all countries can get fresh exports of fresh coconut so this is the next best thing. With more brands out there selling coconut juice in a can, there is now a myriad of choices. And this is just a great drink. I wrote this whole just so I can drink/eat the stuff. It’s worth a try.