There has been much hype and controversy in the media in recent years about the nutritional value of coconut water. Much of this controversy has been generated by companies that have inflated the nutritional and hydration capability of coconut water in order to sell their products. If we ignore the hype generated by these companies, would coconut water provide enough value for it to be a key aspect in a survival situation?
While there is no doubt that coconut milk has nutritional value and will help to stave off dehydration, you will not be able to last significantly longer on coconut milk as opposed to water. Coconut water is a mild diuretic, so you cannot rely on it alone for hydration. You will need an additional hydration and energy source to meet your daily needs.
Finding yourself in a position of survival and having coconut water available is definitely a great advantage from a hydration point of view, but it is a little lacking from a nutritional point of view to sustain you as your sole source of energy intake.
What Are The Benefits Of Coconut Water For Survival?
Despite the inflated claims of producers of commercial coconut water products, the drink does have genuine advantages in a survival situation.
Coconut water is relatively high in potassium content, and it also contains other minerals, some electrolytes, some vitamins, and even small amounts of sugar.
From a hydration point of view, coconut water will offer you more in the way of nutrition and added energy that an equivalent amount of plain water.
If you are in a survival circumstance and you have coconut water available, you are probably in a tropical location where the palm tree that produces coconuts grow. These regions are hot, and depending on the location, surface water that is free from salt may be difficult to find.
If you are stranded somewhere on an island, the coconut water may be your only source of hydration, in which case you could survive on it for your hydration needs for as long as water if you are careful, since it is a diuretic.
If you are on a mainland coast, you could get your hydration needs from the coconut water until you manage to explore inland a little way to find a supply of freshwater.
What Coconut Water Doesn’t Give You
Coconut water has been billed as an excellent electrolyte replacement drink. However, two of the most important electrolyte components we require, sodium and magnesium, are not present in coconut water.
So, while it may be healthy for you and will offer you good hydration, you will have to find another source of these minerals to replace what you have lost.
The biggest problem with coconut water is that it is a mild diuretic; in other words, it makes you pee more often, which is not good when you are trying to stay hydrated. For this reason, it will not work as an exclusive source of hydration, but it can help to stave off thirst while you find another hydration source that you can use to supplement the coconut water.
The Best Part About Coconut Water Is The Container
Unless you have been marooned on a tropical island with a crate full of coconut water, the container that your coconut water comes in will be the natural variety; the coconut itself!
The coconut flesh adds an additional benefit to the resource, as it provides more nutritional value than the water on its own.
The average person needs about 1200 calories each day in order to stay healthy and active. The flesh of the coconut will provide you with 300 calories per cup, and a medium coconut will give you about 2.5 cups, and a large one, 5 cups of the flesh. This adds up to between 750 to 1500 calories per coconut, depending on size.
This indicates that you could survive on a combination of the coconut meat and the coconut water for a significant duration, and still have enough energy to perform other survival tasks such as building a shelter, foraging for other food and water sources, fishing, hunting, or attempting self- rescue by building a raft or, if on a mainland, walking inland or along the coast to find civilization.
The downside to the coconut is that each of the nuts only provides about a half-cup of the water, which does not go far to alleviate thirst or replenish hydration levels in a hot climate.
You may find that you have to open more coconuts than what you can eat, just to keep up with your demand for fluids.
Disadvantages Of Coconuts
The supply of the coconuts is not unlimited. Firstly, you would need to be lucky enough for them to be in season. In other words, the trees need to be bearing them at that time of year. The number of trees bearing fruit and the quantity of the fruit will limit your coconut supply.
Coconuts are notoriously difficult to open, even with modern tools. This means that unless you are lucky enough to have a knife or a quality machete with you, you will be trying to open the coconuts by bashing them with rocks or on rocks in an attempt to get at the water and flesh inside.
While this may look easy to someone practiced in the skill, it can be a difficult technique to master to open the fruit efficiently.
Opening the fruit in this way may cause you to lose most of the internal fluid as spillage, which you can ill-afford to do with a limited supply.
Another downside to the fruit and the fluid is that it contains very little proteins, only about 35. Humans need protein in their diet to manage critical bodily functions, including mental acuity.
If you could find a source of protein to add to your coconut diet, such as seafood, rodents, insects, or even birds or birds eggs, then you will stand a chance of extending your survival chances substantially!
Other Survival Benefits Of Coconuts
The palm tree and the fruit offer many other benefits to the survivalist that make it an important tree for this purpose.
The hard shell of the fruit makes for sturdy bowls, and the coconut hair, or coir, when dried, makes for excellent tinder for fire-making as well as fiber for cordage. The dry husks can be used as firewood and make good charcoal.
The trees themselves are also a treasure trove of supplies for survival. The large leaf fronds make for excellent coverings for survival shelters. The leaves can be used as they are, or the fronds can be woven together to provide a fairly good waterproof covering.
The stems of the fronds contain longer fibers than the coconuts and can be used to making a surprisingly strong, salt-water resistant rope.
The trunks of the trees are usually pretty straight, which makes them great for shelter building, and they are buoyant, so they can be used to build a rescue raft as well.
The hype about coconut water in the media is a clear reminder that we shouldn’t believe everything we read in mainstream media without investigating alternative sources for information.
If you believe the hype, you would be able to survive a survival situation on coconut water alone and come out stronger on the other side than when you went in.
Believing this hype can be detrimental to you in a survival circumstance, which is why you need to have knowledge on how to find alternative food and water sources should you ever be in a position to need and rely on the information.
Coconut water, the meat from the fruit, the husk, the tree, its wood, and fronds are all useful for survival circumstances, but as in any other situation, I would be loath to have my survival depend on one resource alone.
The coconut fruit and the tree itself are a great resource to have, and it is a gift to have it available than not have access to it, but it is best to have options in your knowledge base so that you are not required to rely on one resource.
Relying on a single resource is a surefire way of quickly depleting that resource and running out of options for survival!