Coconut is an important ingredient for any cuisine of the tropical and subtropical region. People cannot think of cooking anything without coconut. Almost every item served contains coconut and even the food is cooked in coconut oil preferably. Coconut is added either in the form of milk extracted from the flesh, or its flesh is grated. Not only the fruit but both the coconut water and oil are equally important. They are an important part of their staple diet.
Few interesting facts about Coconut Trees
In the 16th century, the name coconut was derived from the Portuguese and Spanish word ‘coco’ which means ‘skull’ or ‘head’.
A member of the palm tree family, the term ‘coconut’ refers to the whole coconut palm, its seed and the fruit. Termed as “the tree of the life”, coconut is used vastly to provide food, fuel, cosmetics, medicine, and building materials. Coconuts have made its way into our kitchen, but it was used by humans for multiple purposes for thousands of years.
A coconut tree comes in different sizes. Dwarf coconut trees are 20 ft. – 60 ft. in height whereas tall trees are 98 ft high. Coconut trees have 13” – 20” long lanceolate shaped pinnate leaves. The tree can bear upto 30 fruits per year and sometimes can bear 75 fruits per year. A ripened fruit weighs 3.2 pounds. The tree requires moist, sandy, well-drained soil and flourishes well along the saline-rich coastal regions.
Don’t Miss Out on these Amazing Health Benefits of Coconut!
As mentioned earlier, the entire tree is used for different purposes. But, its health benefits are immense, a few of which have been described below –
- Coconut is considered a complete food item which is rich in calories, vitamins and minerals. A medium-sized nut carries 400g edible meat 30-150 ml of water. It contains almost every essential minerals, vitamins and energy required for our daily needs.
- Coconut milk is rich in vitamins B, C, E. It is good for building a strong immune system for the body. It is rich in magnesium, responsible for regulating heartbeat and supporting nerves, potassium responsible for regulating heart, brain, kidneys and muscles, phosphorus for keeping bones and teeth healthy and iron to build our red blood cells.
- The flesh of the coconut contains saturated fat which is higher compared to any other nuts. A 100g kernel holds 354 calories which mostly comes from the fats and protein. The fat present in coconut is not as dangerous as the trans fats.
- The saturated fatty Lauric Acid present in the coconut increases the good HDL cholesterol level in human blood and decreases the LDL cholesterol. Consuming coconut for a longer period of time lessens chances of strokes and cardiovascular disease. Further, the same acid boosts immunity and fights different viruses or bacteria responsible for causing various ailments.
- During hot, humid tropical summers, people often drink coconut water to quench their thirst. Coconut water is extremely refreshing and nutritious at the same time. Coconut water has 60% less sugar and much fewer calories in comparison to sweetened drinks like fruit juices and safer than aerated cold drinks. Its low sugar content makes coconut water the most preferred beverage for people with high diabetes and high cholesterol.
- Further, coconut water is quite low in carbs, calories, and sugar, but rich in amino acids, healthy fats and fibres. The water has high amounts of protein, vitamin B complex and ascorbic acid as well.
- Coconut water is good for patients suffering from kidney problems because the water triggers an increased urine citrate excretion. Also, we can heal from kidney stones by drinking coconut water and increasing urine potassium chloride and citrate in our body.
- Coconut water, if taken during pregnancy, relieves muscle spasms, fatigue, blood circulation, blood pressure. Also, it provides relief from nausea, constipation and morning sickness as well.
- Moreover, Cytokinins present in coconut water are significantly effective for anti-ageing, antithrombotic and anti-carcinogenic.
- Coconut oil extracted from the dry kernel or the coconut flesh is used for cooking. This oil can help in shedding extra fat from our body and boost metabolism when consumed daily. The same oil, when applied over the scalp, can nourish damaged hair. The oil has medicinal values.
- Coconut oil is a great source of healthy fatty acid, especially medium-chain fatty acids. These type of fatty acids are healthy as they are easily digested and absorbed. It is believed by researchers that a special formulation of coconut oil is made of 100% MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides), not in the oil found in supermarkets. Having a shorter chemical structure than other fats, MCTs are easily absorbed and used by the body. After digestion, MCTs travel to the liver where they are immediately used for energy.
MCTs oil, extracted from coconut oil, is beneficial in several ways:
- MCT oil is used in cooking to help speed up food digestion easily, especially for those individuals who have their Gallbladder removed, or suffer from chronic digestive problems and excessive fat absorption in their body.
- Patients suffering from hormonal imbalance can benefit from MCT as the medium-chain fat helps in maintaining a healthy weight by balancing hormones and increasing insulin sensitivity.
- The antiviral and antibacterial property makes MCTs more beneficial for those having trouble in absorbing fats and struggling with the immune system.
- Coconut seed is high on nutrients and rich in vitamins, and other elements necessary to maintain good health. Coconut is also high on mineral content. This seed is useful in cutting down stress-levels if added to our daily diet or help with fighting, osteoporosis, arthritis, combating fluid retention and defeating cardiovascular problems.
Coconut has innumerable benefits and proves to be a good addition to our diet if we wish to stay hydrated. It is an important source of potassium and sodium needed by our body. This versatile quality of the coconut has made it an important ingredient in our kitchen which can be used to accentuate both the flavours and benefits of our sweet and savoury dishes.
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