Coastal delicacy that beats cold soda and helps you lose weight

The coconut fruit is one of the most precious coastal treasures and a must-have for tourists visiting Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Lamu counties.

A visit is incomplete without a taste of this delicacy.

The fruit’s white flesh is used in preparing steamed rice while the sap can be served raw as madafu juice, which sells for between Sh20 and Sh50.

The juice is rich in potassium and other minerals crucial to the body.

Dr Duncan Chai of BlueNile Medical Centre in Kilifi County told Nation.Africa that drinking coconut water helps the body stay hydrated especially in hot areas like the Coast region.

In fact, he says, coconut water is more hydrating than pure water and helps lower blood pressure.

“It hydrates you quickly as it is absorbed directly into the body. People should be informed that coconut water contains about 600mg of potassium per 240ml, which is quite an impressive amount for people with high blood pressure,” he explains.

Madafu is also important for kidney functions.

Lucy Maina, a nutritionist with a private health organisation in Mpeketoni, notes that most of the foods that people eat are high in sodium and low in potassium.

Ms Maina explains that sodium promotes fluid retention and kidneys have to work extra hard to get rid of the excess fluids.

“The potassium in coconut has diuretic effects in helping the kidneys flush out excess fluids. The diuretic effects in coconut water also help in preventing kidney stones,” she says.

Mohamed Shee Ali, an elder and retired health practitioner in Lamu Old Town (in white kanzu and sunglasses) enjoying madafu drink./Kalume Kazungu I Nation Media Group

Mohamed Shee, an elder and retired health practitioner in Lamu Old Town, says he has been consuming madafu since he was a child, observing that the fruit has helped him solve digestion problems.

Mr Shee reiterates that indigestion mostly results from gut infections or toxins from the food that one eats daily.

Coconut water is also known to promote bowel movements and prevent issues to do with a bloated stomach.

“Since I started consuming madafu, I haven’t experienced indigestion. Thanks to the high concentration of fibre in coconut, its water reduces the occurrence of indigestion. I urge people to drink madafu. They won’t regret it,” he says.

Coconut water can also help a person lose weight as it is low in fats and calories, making it ideal for those who want to lose their body weight.

“The water also makes you feel fuller for longer, thus suppressing your appetite,” says Ahmed Ali, a diet specialist based in Lamu.
Madafu is not addictive, as the water itself is natural and does not contain any additives, just as nature intended.

Most tourists and guests visiting coastal counties are always welcomed with madafu as the fruit also resembles the region itself.

There is no doubt that madafu is a popular drink among Coast dwellers, guests and tourists.

Mohamed Ali, a madafu vendor on the Lamu Island seafront, expressed happiness that the popularity of traditional foods like madafu is increasing.

Sharif Abdi, a hawker in Lamu town, stresses that the popularity of traditional foods like madafu could be driven partly by the rise in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

“I am grateful that despite the arrival of Western foods, our traditional foods like madafu are also enjoying a revival. Let’s enjoy and celebrate our traditional and natural foods,” he says.

“Instead of rushing to buy cold soda during hot afternoons, just go look for madafu. It’s healthier that way.”

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