Coconut comes from the family of palm trees and has derived its name from Portuguese and Spanish word coco which means “Skull”. It is a tropical /sub-tropical fruit and usually adorns areas in the vicinity of the sea.
The great coconut water is held inside the soft flesh of coconut that is encompassed by a tough shell.The shell itself is inside a thick hide of husk. Inside the soft flesh of coconut is covered in a tough shell.The shell itself is inside a thick coat of husk.
Coconut is an indispensable part of many cultures around the world and exhibits great versatility in its uses. The leaves of coconut tree are used for making shelters, and the fruit itself is eaten raw and has numerous culinary uses.
The hide that encompasses the hard shell of the fruit has a lot of fibrous yet strong strands. They are used to make ropes and Coir for mattresses among other things. The shell and dried hide are also burnt instead of Charcoal for cooking.
Coconut oil that derived from the fruit is used in cooking and applying on skin and hair. Alcohol is another beverage that uses the goodness of coconut aroma and flavor as a base ingredient.
It has a very gentle and subtle fragrance that is a favorite amongst perfumes. Apart from these numerous utilities, coconut is known for the valuable health benefits that one can get from this fruit, its oil, and water.
Scientific name: Coco Nucifer
The Nutritional Value of Coconut
Coconut is a very healthy fruit, and the reason it is an important part of lives in the areas where it grows is because of the nutritional goodness it has.
Following nutritional chart shows nutrients found in per 100 grams of coconut flesh.
|Dietary Fibre||9 gms|
|Vitamin B1||0.066 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.54 mg|
|Vitamin B5||1.014 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin C||3.3 mg|
It satisfies about 19% of our daily iron need and 16% that of phosphorus. The content of zinc at 12% and Vitamin B5 at 20% of our daily requirement makes coconut a must inclusion in our regular diet.
It lends a great deal of energy with an eye-popping 354 Kcal, one of the highest number found in fruit.
It is a very well rounded not only in its shape but also nutrition. It contains all essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, trace metals, fats, carbohydrate and fiber in ideal proportions.
Health Benefits of Coconut
The illustrious nutritional chart of coconut translates into a gamut of incredible health benefits. Coconut is suitable for consumption in all age groups and is recommended during pregnancy.
The fruit, oil and water of coconut- all of them have significant properties that keep our body fit and in good shape.
1. Your Companion in Workout & Weight Loss
Obesity and being overweight are not diseases in themselves but manifest into a lot of health problems like high blood pressure, blood sugar and deteriorate your heart condition.
A lot of people are now aware of the ills of obesity and are turning to activities that help in maintaining optimum weight.
However, in a blind pursuit of losing weight, one loses sight of the damage that an accidental and unmindful weight loss regime causes.
Incorporating coconut in your diet as a simple addition to the post-workout session can make you feel energetic, restore the lost fluids and balance your electrolyte.
A heavy workout makes you sweat which in turn drains out the body of essential minerals like potassium. This condition dehydrates you and can cause severe cramping as potassium is responsible for healthy muscle function, and its loss leads to them cramping up.
It is a rich source of Potassium, water, and Phosphorus that rejuvenate you after a workout.
Exercise stimulates metabolism, and so it is also the best time to consume some fats that are present in coconut that get absorbed by the body instead of getting stored in the body.
If you are hell bent on eliminating fats from your diet, then stick to coconut water.
Wrap Up: It is a complete food for a post-workout session. It restores the water loss and brings the balance in electrolyte with its fluid and mineral content.
2. For Diabetes
Diabetics have a resistance to insulin that helps in absorbing and digesting the sugar in the body. The slow rate of sugar absorption increases the sugar levels in the blood.
Diabetes shows symptoms of lethargy and tiredness in most of the people as the sugar is not converted into energy source in the body.
Even though coconut and its water tend to be sweet, they have a low glycemic index which means they protect from the dangerous sugar spikes in the blood sugar. Diabetics can eat and enjoy this fruit along with its super healthy juice.
Diabetics can also benefit immensely from coconut because not only does it regulate optimal sugar levels in the blood but also kill your appetite naturally and diminish craving for sweets.
You can eat it in raw form or just add coconut oil in moderate quantity to your food preparations to slow down your appetite.
Wrap Up: Coconut can help diabetics in controlling sugar by combining two of its properties which are – Low glycemic index and reducing appetite significantly.
3. The Fibrous Treat
Fiber also known as roughage is a critical component required by our body and coconut has a high content of this dietary fiber. It has two types of fiber- Soluble and Insoluble.
Now, soluble fiber gets digested in the body and prevents constipation. It softens the stools and keep a healthy bowel movement cleaning your digestive tracts and intestines. This function also keeps colon cancer and piles at bay.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber is directly passed through the body and does not add a single calorie as it is not digested. It helps in pushing rest of the food to go through the entire digestive system and keeps your bowel and digestion healthy. It is the high fiber content that makes you feel full and curbs the urge to binge on food.
Coconut has about 93% insoluble fiber and 7% soluble fiber. This composition makes it healthier than the great wheat bran!
Wrap Up: The high fiber content of coconut aids healthy digestion, prevents constipation, colon cancer and piles.
4. Hypoallergenic Properties & Anti-infections
It does not have gluten and is considered hypoallergenic. This property makes coconut less likely to cause allergic reactions to its consumption or application.
In fact, coconut and its oil are found so gentle and mild that in countries like India infants’ sensitive skin is massaged with this oil.
Many studies have shown that coconut is anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal. It is the reason, coconut oil and its water are used on infections. Oil is considered more efficient because of the dense concentration of these anti-microbial properties and its longevity. As compared to coconut oil. You can apply them directly to the infections on the skin.
Your digestive system is prone to bacterial and fungal infections, in such cases consumption of oil in food preparation or pure form is recommended.
It will kill the virus as it passes through the digestive passage. For gum infections too, you can finish your brushing routine by massaging them with a little coconut oil for alleviating the disease.
Wrap Up: It is a hypoallergenic compound and is considered a great for fighting the microbial infections on the outside as well as inside the body.
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5. Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) fatty acids
The fatty acids have a chain structure that ranges from long to short. The Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) fatty acids have 6-12 carbon chains.
MCTs is known for their excess calorie burning property resulting in healthy weight loss. It has also been studied and found to be effective in increasing stamina and endurance.
Coconut has all these MCTs but mainly C12, which is made of lauric acid. Of all the fatty acids that coconut contains, Lauric acid makes up for 50% proportion, highest in any fruit. Lauric acid lends anti-viral property to coconut.
Lauric acid is being used widely for treating flu, HPV infections, cold sores and herpes. Even to prevent HIV passing from mother to child, Lauric acid are administered to the mother.
Lauric acid is responsible for making Coconut antifungal and anti-parasitic as well.
Wrap Up: It contains MCTs and is especially a rich source of Lauric acid which coconut anti-viral, anti-parasitic and Anti-fungal. It also aids in burning calories at a faster rate.
6. Good for your Skin and Hair
People and communities who use coconut and its variants regularly as a part of their lifestyle exhibit an excellent skin health and lush hair growth. Many studies have now linked healthy skin and hair to coconut oil conclusively. Even you can enjoy these benefits by keeping coconut oil and its water handy.
Regular application of coconut water in your face can get rid of the marks, scars and similar damage to your skin. It has cooling properties so is strongly recommended for sunburns. The oil also soothes your skin while making it supple and well moisturized.
It defies dryness, aging, wrinkling and prevents further sun damage. For a complete skin routine, you may massage your skin with warm coconut oil and wash it off with pure coconut water. This method will also keep you free from skin infections.
Oil is a potion for your hair and scalp. If you suffer from dandruff, then coconut oil can prove to be super beneficial. Dandruff is usually caused either by dryness or fungal infection amongst other factors.It cleans out dandruff with regular massage owing to its anti-fungal properties.
The light oiliness of coconut oil alleviates dryness and makes your scalp well moisturized. It is not only beneficial for your scalp but also for dry and brittle hair thereby reducing hair loss and hair breakage.
Wrap Up: The oil and water make your skin and hair shine with moisture, hydration and health. They also keep them free from usual fungal infections that they are prone to.
7. Active Antioxidant
The oxygen interacts with our body at a cellular level and individual molecules on exposure to oxygen create free radicals. These radicals are highly reactive and can damage the cell’s DNA and membrane.
The reaction that causes this damage does not stop and spreads rapidly like a chain reaction. This cause skin damage, cancer and heart disease in extreme cases.
Anti-oxidants carry out an important function of cleaning out these free radicals from the body.
Coconut water is one such antioxidant which flush out these toxins from the body and keep your skin and other organs functioning well. It also strengthens the immunity of the body and helps it fight the infections better.
Free radicals are also responsible for aging that slows down the vital functions of our body. Regular consumption of anti-oxidant like coconut can help in controlling and delaying the onset of the natural process of aging.
Wrap Up: Coconut is a strong anti-oxidant which protects from various types of cancers, tumors, aids the immune system and slows down the aging of the body.
Some Interesting Facts
Its oil is a rich source of saturated fats but because they are rich in medium chain Triglycerides, they help in burning calories and weight loss. They go directly to the liver where the synthesis converts them to energy, unlike other fats that are stored in the cells increasing the cholesterol level.
Coconuts palm can grow to a height of 30 meters and take about 15-20 years to reach peak production of about 75 coconuts in one year. This plant is comfortable in sandy soils and has a high tolerance for salinity.
In many cultures jaggery is made out of a coconut is used in making desserts and as a natural sweetener that is called palm sugar.
The humble coconut has now become an extremely respected ingredient in the cosmetic industries which uses it in everything from face creams to hair potions.
It has a versatility like none other and its inclusion in your diet is easy and hassle-free. Eat it, drink it or apply it, whatever way you choose coconuts is only going to infuse you with its natural goodness and an overall healthy you.
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