Have you ever opened a can or carton of coconut water and found yourself staring at a pink liquid? If so, it’s no surprise if you feel a little put off! After all, most people think of coconut water as pearly and semi-transparent.
Coconut water turns pink when the sugars in the water are exposed to oxygen in the surrounding air. In the same way that apples turn brown when you cut them open, coconuts start to become pinker. This is perfectly safe to consume, and may even be healthier than clear coconut water.
We’re going to find out all about why coconut water turns pink and whether pink coconut water is healthy or harmful. This should put you in a good position to choose the best drink options available.
Why Does Coconut Water Turn Pink?
If you open an apple and leave it on your kitchen counter for an hour or two, you’ll probably expect to come back to an apple with significant browning around the cut edges – while the uncut fruit stays fresh and light gold. The same happens with a coconut.
The short version is that when you produce water from a coconut:
- Oxygen can get at cells that were previously unexposed
- Some of the cells contain a chemical called polyphenol oxidase, and this has four copper atoms that the oxygen can bind to. When it does, the chemical starts to oxidize and produces the pink coloration
- The pink spreads through the water and diffuses, making it pink throughout
A lot of people think of pink coconut water as the purest stuff, because it indicates that it has been unaltered by chemicals, and it still contains the polyphenols that react with the oxygen. If the coconut water is clear and white, there is a chance that the manufacturer removed the polyphenols early on in the processing stages.
Not all coconut water is pink, but it’s certainly nothing that you need to be concerned about. As long as the coconut water smells and tastes fresh, it should be okay to drink, regardless of any pink hue in the liquid.
Is Pink Or White Coconut Water Healthier?
You might be wondering whether you should try to buy pink coconut water, or opt for white if it is available. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this, and there’s quite a bit of debate on the topic.
On the one hand, having pink in your coconut water indicates that the polyphenols have been left in it, and these contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients. If the water doesn’t turn pink, the polyphenols may have been removed, meaning that you won’t get the benefit of them. This indicates that pink coconut water is preferable.
On the other hand, some tests have indicated that pink coconut water has decreased levels of phenolic compounds and manganese, probably because these have interacted with the oxygen and changed their form. That means that you will be getting less benefit from it, especially if there has been lots of interaction with the oxygen.
However, clear waters may contain additional chemicals or have been processed at high temperatures to retain their clearness. It is therefore a difficult choice, but many people feel that pink coconut water is the safer option as long as it is fresh. It also tends to have a better flavor, which may help you to make a decision.
How Do You Tell If Coconut Water Has Gone Bad?
If you are concerned about the pink color, you might be wondering how you actually tell if the coconut water has gone bad, or if it’s okay. You will need to look at several different factors if you can’t tell from the date on the coconut water’s packaging.
The first thing to do is smell the coconut water. If it smells rancid or sour, it has gone off. It should have a sweet, gently fruity smell. Sometimes it can be hard to tell when coconut water is cold, so you may need to let it come to room temperature before you know for sure from the scent, but this is one of the best ways to check.
Secondly, you should look for any specks of mold on the carton or in the water. Tiny blue or white flecks may form on the surface or around the lid, and these indicate that the coconut water has started to go off and should no longer be drunk. Any other change in the color of the water, such as yellowing or browning, also suggests it is spoiled.
If you are still unsure, you can taste the coconut water, but only put a small sample in your mouth. If it tastes sweet and fruity, it’s probably fine to drink, but if it has a sour or rancid flavor, you will need to throw it away. Don’t drink coconut water that has a strange flavor, because it could make you sick.
Is Coconut Water Healthy?
Pink or white, you may be wondering whether this drink is actually as good for you as some people say. The answer is that does have some good nutrients in it and it can help to fight off oxidative stress and reduce cholesterol levels. It is a great source of magnesium, which can help to improve your insulin sensitivity.
There is also some research to suggest that coconut water can reduce your risk of kidney stones and heart disease. It could lower high blood pressure and may make it easier for you to stay hydrated, especially after exercising. However, further study is needed in all of these areas to confirm the findings.
Coconut water is pink surprisingly often, and there is no reason to choose clear coconut water over pink coconut water. The color is a naturally occurring result of processing coconuts, and it does not signify that the water is spoiled. In fact, pink coconut water may be better for you, because it still contains the polyphenols that may have been removed from white coconut water.