Properties and Benefits of Coconuts: The fruit of a (sub)tropical palm tree, coconuts (Cocos nucifera) are known throughout the world for their refreshing taste and nutritious properties. When early Spanish explorers first laid eyes on them, they called them ‘coco’, meaning monkey because to them they very much resembled the furry animal. Overall, coconuts boast many properties and just as many uses in the form of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil and coconut flour. In fact, coconut milk is far superior (a.k.a. nutritious and energizing) than energy drinks. Let’s find out more.
Coconuts are large, dark brown, furry fruit of the coconut palm. In the first stages of development, the immature fruit contains what is known as coconut water, a liquid packed with sugar, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Coconut water is much healthier than expensive sports drinks and offers better support to the body following intensive workout sessions compared to the former. According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, coconut water can even be used as an emergency intravenous fluid as a result of its good sugar, mineral and vitamin content and electrolyte properties.
As the fruit matures, the liquid solidifies into what is known as a kernel or coconut meat. Hot water or even milk is passed through the kernel in order to extract the aromatic oils from it and obtain coconut milk. What makes these two byproducts so healthy? Think about this: the water inside a single coconut is intensively filtered by a complex root system, then transported up the trunk to reach the fruit. One coconut must be sufficiently nutritious to give life to another mighty tree. You can draw the conclusions yourselves.
Coconut oil is just as healthy. According to various research papers, it possesses special polyphenolic compounds as well as oleic, linoleic and lauric acid, fatty acids with wonderful health benefits. For instance, all coconut byproducts show efficient activity against the influenza, herpes and HIV viruses. Impressive, right? Of all the dietary oil varieties, coconut oil is definitely one of the healthiest choices. It can be used just as regular oil, for frying or regular cooking and added to soups, stews, baked desserts and so on.
From an economic point of view, coconuts represent an important part of the global economy and have ensured the survival of almost a third of the world’s population. For generations, coconuts have been the main food source for people in India, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and numerous other countries worldwide.
While for some of us the coconut is an enjoyable, exotic treat that we wouldn’t necessarily consider eating on a regular basis, for many others it is a staple food. But not only is it much more palatable than rice, corn or wheat, it also boasts a variety of impressive nutritional properties and health benefits.
Here is a list of the most intriguing properties and health benefits of the humble coconut and its byproducts:
1) Special compounds in coconuts efficiently destroy the viruses causing influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS and HIV. However, this does not mean that eating coconuts prevents us from getting these viruses when exposed to them. We still have to do our part and protect ourselves as much as possible to avoid infection.
2) It inhibits the growth of bacteria responsible for ulcers, urinary tract infections, throat infections, pneumonia, gum disease and tooth decay (by increasing nutrient absorption) as well as candida and gonorrhea.
3) It inhibits the growth of fungi causing yeast infections, ringworms, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash and other similar infections. Nevertheless, it is best to ask for professional medical advice when suspecting such as infection and discuss with your doctor the best treatment option for you.
4) Beauty secret no. 1. Coconut oil repairs frail hair, restoring its integrity and shine. Regular coconut oil hair masks help treat dry scalp and dandruff problems. Also, applying coconut oil on the scalp helps get rid of lice and lice eggs. Coconut oil moisturizes the skin and delays the installment of wrinkles and saggy skin. Due to its aggressive antibacterial properties, it helps relieve and treat skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis.
5) Due to the variety of minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals (potent natural substances) and high sugar content, coconut water and coconut milk provide instant energy.
6) Coconut water and milk provide support for sustained physical activity and promote performance as a result of their generous nutritional value.
7) Being easy to digest and low in calories, coconut oil, butter and other byproducts are converted into energy for the body to use, not stored as fat. They regulate pancreas activity and boost metabolism, all important factors for an efficient weight loss.
8) Regulate insulin production and blood glucose use. Raw coconut meat is an excellent source of dietary fiber (9 g/100 g of coconut meat), indigestible plant material which is believed to decrease the intestinal absorption of sugars, contributing to glycemic control.
9) By regulating the release of pancreatic enzymes, coconut oil improves digestion, increases nutrient absorption and helps maintain a healthy pancreas.
10) Coconuts promote cardiovascular health. Both the saturated and unsaturated fatty acids found in generous amounts in coconut oil and other byproducts protect the arteries from damage and lower LDL cholesterol levels.