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Use your coconuts, says US nutrition expert

/ 01:35 AM September 24, 2011

It had to take a visit by an American nutrition researcher, naturopathic physician and friend of the Philippines to crack our coconuts and see why we should be drinking coconut water instead of soft drinks.

Over a glass of buko juice, Dr. Bruce Fife proceeds to tell us why.

Since last year when entertainment personality Madonna not only endorsed it but has put her money in the business, coconut water is the newest trend to sweep the health and fitness industry. And just to see how cuckoo on coconut Hollywood celebrities from Demi Moore to Matthew McConaughey have become, Madonna got the popular young pop star Rihanna on board to endorse the Vita Coco brand last May.

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They see something in it that we don’t seem to because we are swimming in it—a completely natural drink with no artificial additives or chemicals or flavorings, no cholesterol, low in sugar, low in fat, with an assortment of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other health-promoting phytonutrients.

Despite recent reports that our coconut trees are turning old and are dying and international soft drink giants have arrived aiming to revitalize the industry, pushcart vendors of buko will still have enough to provide the ordinary man in the street a natural and inexpensive nourishment.

Unfortunately, even the much healthier consumption of drinking water has been pushed away by the popularity and convenience of drinking carbonated and fruit-flavored drinks.

What’s wrong with carbonated drinks

What is wrong with the carbonated soft drinks adults and children alike love to take?

Fife, author of the book “Coconut Water for Health and Healing,” says that every time we drink a 12-ounce serving of carbonated soda, we are taking in the equivalent of 10 or more teaspoons of sugar (mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup).

It doesn’t help if we take the diet or sugar-free zero version. For in place of sugar, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose are no better, said to cause health problems from seizures to weight gain.

According to Fife, soft drinks are a problem “not only for what they contain (caffeine, phosphoric acid and sodium benzoate, to mention just a few) but also for what they push out of the diet. When people fill up on soft drinks they tend to eat less of the foods that supply essential nutrients.”

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He also refers to several studies that have provided evidence that soft drinks are directly related to weight gain, which is a prime risk for type 2 diabetes—apart from sugar being the primary cause of tooth decay.

Perfect solution

In a study, researchers found that soft drink consumption was associated with lower bone mass development in girls. Harvard researchers found an association between the consumption of carbonated beverages and bone fracture in teenage girls.

Other studies have shown that soft drink consumers have an increased risk of developing kidney stones. Coconut water can flush out kidney stones, according to the doctor.

And although processed fruit juices may contain more vitamins than soft drinks, they have just as much, and often more, sugar as well as chemical preservatives and additives.

Fife raises his glass of buko juice in a poser: “You need a beverage that is low in sugar, has no questionable additive, supplies essential nutrients, and tastes good enough that kids, as well as adults, will enjoy drinking it.”

“The perfect solution is coconut water!” he said exultantly.

Coconut water tastes sweet, but the sugar content is actually very low compared to other beverages. It has less than 1/3 the amount of sugar as ginger ale or iced tea and 1/5 the amount found in an orange soda or grape juice.

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TAGS: Coconuts, Dr. Bruce Fife, Madonna, US nutrition expert
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