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Pipa Fria: What in the World is this?

By Angelina Phillips

On one of our road trips in Costa Rica, we passed a roadside wooden “pipa fria” sign as our grown son exclaimed, “pull over!” He jumped out and returned with liquid filled plastic bags. As I asked “what in the world?” he replied, “Are you kidding? This is the best stuff around.” I now drink pipa fria daily – several times a day! I crave it.

So what is pipa fria and why the rage? In other parts of the world you may know it as coconut water and it is more typically available in cans. If you are particularly lucky you will find it simple without sugar or high fructose corn syrup added.

Photo by Adam Dietrich

In reality, the way to drink it is straight from the coconut or from someone who has freshly bottled it – drinking it in the tropics is optional but preferred!

Be aware that this natural beverage will change your world. Pipa fria is particularly well suited for the warm climes of Costa Rica. Here in the tropics both tourist and local alike can easily become dehydrated and not even know it. It can sneak up on you and then next thing you know you are lethargic, have a headache or even worse. Skip the Gatorade and head for pipa fria, which is full of electrolytes and packed with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The water is low in calories and fat and has no cholesterol.

Research shows that drinking coconut water improves immunity, increases metabolism, and improves your HDL cholesterol. It also works as an intestinal regulator. It is low in sodium and sugar so this could be a good option for diabetics also. For all those pH fanatics, coconut water is also believed to help balance the body’s pH to help fight illness more effectively as it is antibacterial and antifungal.  It also helps you better absorb the nutrients in your food. I could go on…

A few more interesting facts: Coconut water is used as an alternative to breast milk in a number of tropical countries and during World War II in the Pacific theater coconut water was used as an alternative for saline infusions and is still used today in emergency situations. Are you convinced this tasty little gift from the coconut tree is good for you? 

Here is one last piece of good news. You can find them for sale on the streets of Samara, Nosara and even the streets of Nicoya for 500 to 1000 colones or bottled for 1500 to 2000 colones. Bottled pipa fria is usually 2-3 coconuts so this is a pretty good deal. Thirsty? Head to Samara Organics at the Natural Center, Naked Foods and Organico in Guiones or some Tico supermarkets where they bottle it almost daily. Don’t forget to return the bottle so it can be reused or recycled.

Or, if you are feeling adventurous, climb a tree and cut your own green or yellow coconut. Find a machete to open it and drink your own. One warning: it isn’t as easy as it looks – the climbing or the opening! Why not skip the hard work and take it easy? Support your local business or street vendor and find someone that sells them.



More health news

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Costa Rican Scientists Develop New Test for Cervical Cancer

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