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Nutritive Value of tender coconuts:

( Chemical constituents )
A normal yielding coconut palm produces inflorescence at approximately monthly intervals. A period of 12 months elapses between the emergences of the inflorescence and complete maturity of the fruit. The cavity inside the nut differentiates itself in the second month. The meat starts forming as a thin and soft layer in the 6th month and increases its hardness and quantity to the very end though the rate of increase declines as the nuts ripen. With the increase in thickness of kernal the internal cavity gets reduced in size. There is also a progressive decrease in the quantity of nut water as the nuts ripen. The chemical composition and volume of the nut water change during maturation. Ediriweera (1996) has reported that the water from the nuts at the Kurumba Stage ( about 220 days old is best suited for drinking as a beverage since glucose is highest during this stage besides maximum volume of water. The water of tender coconut , technically the liquid endosperm, is the most nutritious wholesome beverage that the nature has provided for the people of the tropics to fight the sultry heat. It has calorific value of 17.4 per 100gm.The normal pH of the tender coconut water varies between 4.9 and 5.2

Chemical Constituents:-
The composition of coconut water varies depending on the variety , maturity of the nut, condition of the soil and climatic condition. The major chemical constituents of coconut water are sugars and minerals and the minor ones are fat, proteins and other nitrogenous substances.



Sugars:-
Sugars form an important constituent of the tender nut water. The concentration of sugars in the nut water steadily increases from about 1.5% to about 5-5.5% in the early months of maturation and then slowly falls reaching about 2% at the stage of the full maturity of the nut.


In the early stages of maturity sugars are in the forms of glucose and fructose (reducing sugar) and sucrose (non-reducing sugar) appears only in later stages ,which increases with the maturity while the reducing sugars fall. In the fully mature nut approximately 50% of the total sugars is sucrose. The quantity of total sugars, reducing sugars and non-reducing sugars in tender coconut water is found to vary from variety to variety and from place o place even at same maturity.


The two major changes in the profile of sugars during maturation were the steep fall of total sugars per nut by more than 90% and the disappearance of reducing sugar.


Minerals:-
The tender coconut water contains most of the minerals such as potassium, sodium ,calcium, phosphorous ,iron ,copper , sulphur and Magnesium



Among the minerals more than half is potassium the concentration of which is markedly by influenced by potash manuring tender coconut water being rich in potassium and other minerals plays a major role in increasing the urinary output. The benefical effect of diets high in potassium and magnesium contents in reducing stroke especially in individuals with high blood pressure. Potassium decreases on maturation and sodium shows an increase. Calcium , magnesium , chloride,iron and copper content in coconut water did not exhibit any particular trend on maturation. Sulphur showed a sight increase and phosphorus a decrease.


Proteins:-
Coconut water contains small amounts of protein . The nitrogen and total protein content of coconut water increased gradually with maturation. The percentages of arginine , alanine , cystine and serene in the protein of tender coconut water are reported to be higher than those in cow’s milk. Since it does not contain any complex protein ,the danger of producing shock to the patient is minimized . The protein content of nut water increases from 0.13% to 0.29% while it decreases in the Kernel from 8.3% at the 8th month to 6.2% at maturity . In the immature nut water, about 70% of the free amino acids are made of glutamine , arginine ,aspargine , alanine and aspartic acid while alanine, aminobutyric acid and glutamic acid constitute about 75% of free amino acids of mature nut water. Amino acid composition in coconut water reported by pradera et.al(1942) is given in



Vitamins:-
Tender coconut water contains both ascorbic acid and vitamins of B group


The concentration of ascorbic acid ranges from 2.2 to 3.7 mg/ml ,which gradually diminishes as the kernel surrounding the water begins to harden.


Fat:-
Water of unripe nut contains 0.12% and the water of ripe nut contains 0.15%; the fat content in the kernel of the unripe nut being 1.4%. The reduction in sugar content is also associated with an increase in the oil percentage of the kernel. Changes in fat content and fatty acid composition of coconut water during maturation are given in



Effervescence and flavour:-
Tender coconut water is reported to be under hydrostatic pressure , which might facilitate the dissolution of Co2 in water. Therefore effervescence appears in the water on opening a tender nut at proper stage. Depletion of water on maturation causes an empty space into which the gases escape and therefore effervescence is usually not observed in the matured nut water. It has been reported that the gas occupying the free space in the ripe nut is essentially nitrogen. The characteristic and pleasant flavour of tender coconut water is contributed by delta lactones ,which are found to diminish slowly with maturity / ageing . It is this labile flavour which is sought after by the consumers.

 

 

 

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