COCONUT - THE WONDER FOOD

Wellcure

Wellcure

09:56 AM | 15-06-2020

Call it a nut, or a fruit, coconut is one of the most versatile fruits nature has gifted us. Every part of this wonderful fruit is consumed by humans in some or the other form. It heals, provides nourishment, enhances health, even its shell, and fiber are used for multiple purposes.

Interesting Fact - Did you know that coconut water’s electrolyte balance is similar to human blood plasma!

It is a complete and perfect food package, as its flesh provides a high-calorie food and its water is drinkable in its natural state. The inedible fiber can be turned into a rope, brushes, mattress, and a lot more. The hard shell of coconut can be burnt to get charcoal, or used in making mosquito coils.

What is the origin of this fruit and its significance in our lives, what are the benefits of eating it, and what are the different ways of consuming it? Read on to know the answers to all of these questions.

History & Cultural Relevance

The cultivation of coconut originated in two different places, the basins of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. The two varieties are genetically different. Either human travels or some floated-away coconuts resulted in the emergence of mixed varieties of the two. In the Indian Ocean, coconut initially flourished in Sri Lanka, Maldives and Lakshadweep. In the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia were the centers of cultivation. 

In India, Kerala is the largest producer of coconut. In fact, the state’s name literally means ‘the land of coconut trees. 

In the Indian culture, a coconut tree is often referred to as the Kalpavriksha - the tree that grants all wishes. This connection comes from the fact that every part of the coconut tree is used in some form in India. The leaves are used for thatching, sticks for making brooms, shells for steaming food, making handicrafts or charcoal, the hemp for cleaning, making ropes, etc. and the fruit is edible in multiple forms. 

Coconut is called Shriphal or the fruit of prosperity in Hindu culture. It is considered auspicious and offered during prayers to deities. In many coastal regions in India, fishermen offer coconuts to the sea Gods, before embarking on a fishing expedition and pray for a good catch. 

Benefits of Coconut

Not just coconut fruit but the whole coconut tree finds its usefulness in human civilization. 

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Coconut Fruit

This is the first part of the tree which gets our attention, as it is a great food:

  • The flesh of the fruit is full of proteins. You get 8 gms of protein in half a cup of fresh coconut. It contains 17 out of the 20 amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins!

  • It is rich in folate - a B vitamin, which is essential for good metabolism and functioning of red blood cells. 

  • The white fruit is also a good source of Manganese (required for fat metabolism & enzyme function) and copper (aids bone development & cardiovascular health).

  • The fiber in it boosts the digestive system.

  • It reduces LDL, the bad cholesterol and increases HDL, the good cholesterol

  • It is high in potassium which reduces high blood pressure and maintains the water balance.

Best Ways to Consume:

  • Eat the coconut raw and fresh in between meals as a snack. The fiber in it keeps you full for longer.

  • Blend it into smoothies and shakes.

  • Add it to fruit salads, or garnish your dishes with freshly grated coconut

Coconut Water

  • It is an isotonic solution and hence hydrates the body perfectly. It is packed with electrolytes that are found in the human body.

  • It is a powerhouse of nutrients and is rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1, phosphorus, and potassium. Vitamin B1 is good for eye health & in the prevention of glaucoma.

  • Rich in antioxidants, coconut water boosts immunity, reduces cellular damage, and risk factors of heart diseases.

  • It even helps counter stress, fights depression, reduces insomnia, and boosts memory.

  • It boosts weight loss, for being low in calories and high in bioactive enzymes that aid digestion and fat metabolism.

Best Ways to Consume:

  • Drink it fresh from the tender coconut. 

  • Consume it in early morning for better immunity & metabolism

  • Use it to make delicious drinks, lemonades and more.

Coconut Milk

  • It is rich in healthy saturated fatty acids which promotes the production of good cholesterol.

  • It has antiviral and antibacterial properties due to the presence of lauric acid. Lauric acid also enhances immunity and aids brain development

  • It is a great skin moisturizer, heals sunburns, provides relief in eczema & psoriasis, and is good for hair health.

  • The vitamin C and copper present in coconut milk prevents premature aging, wrinkling of the skin, and improves skin’s elasticity.

Best Ways to Consume:

  • Use it in curries, soups or smoothies.

  • You can also bake with it or make dairy-free ice creams.

Coconut Flour

  • Low-carb and gluten-free, this is a delicious alternative to other flours. 

  • Initially produced as a by-product of coconut milk, this flour is made by grounding the dry coconut meat.

  • Rich in fiber, coconut flour helps keep the blood sugar levels in check and a healthy gut.

Best Way to Consume:

  • Replace other refined flours with coconut flour to bake, make rotis, pancakes or any kind of bread.

Coconut Oil

  • Coconut oil contains healthy, saturated fatty acids that promote the growth of good cholesterol.

  • Fats in pure coconut contain mono-chain-triglycerides (MCTs) which are metabolized quickly by the liver and turned to ketones which are highly beneficial for the brain.

  • These quickly-absorbed MCTs prevent fat storage and gives a feeling of satiety, thus helping with weight loss. However, they are hardly present in commercially available oil, but only in pure and virgin coconut oil. 

  • Coconut oil also has antimicrobial properties due to the presence of lauric acid.

  • It is good for hair and skin, protects against hair damage, prevents dry skin conditions, and may even work as a light sunscreen. 

  • The anti-inflammatory characteristics of coconut oil enhance the skin’s ability to work as a protective barrier. 

  • Some studies have found it useful for preventing infections in teeth (due to the antimicrobial properties), if used as a mouthwash.

Best Ways to Use:

  • Use it as a cooking medium

  • Apply on skin for moisturisation, light sunscreen, or to cure dry skin conditions

  • Apply on hair for shiny, lusture and better scalp health

  • Can be used as a salve for small cuts and wounds due to its antimicrobial properties.

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Varieties of Coconut

Botanically named as Cocos nucifera, the coconut palm tree has many local cultivars which are mainly categorized as tall and dwarf varieties.

The Green, Mature & Husky, and Dry coconuts are actually different developmental stages of the same fruit. 

Green Coconut

  • They are young coconuts, have more water than the brown, mature ones and no fat up to six months of age. 

  • They develop soft and sweet meat as they age further. However, it is present in much lesser quantity as compared to the brown coconuts. 

  • Widely known as tender coconuts, they turn from fresh green to slightly yellow by the age of 8-10 months. 

Best Way to Consume:

  • Drink their refreshing water. You can also enjoy the tender meat but it is present in far less quantity than the water.

Brown Coconut

  • This one is brown and husky from the exterior. Coconut flesh starts hardening up around 11 months of age and forms the fresh white interior of the coconut fruit. 

  • The shell dries up, turning brown and husky.

  • Commonly known as mature coconuts, this one has a higher fat content and is much lower in water.

Best Ways to Consume:

  • Eat them fresh or use them in cooking. Drink the water.

  • Make coconut milk and coconut flour

Dry Coconut

  • The dried flesh of the coconut is called Copra and is eaten after chopping or shredding.

  • It is also used to extract coconut oil. Post extraction remains are called coconut cake, which is high in protein but so rich in fiber that it is unfit for human consumption and hence used as a fodder for cattle.

Best Way to Consume:

  • Used in many recipes, dried coconut finds its place in multiple cuisines.

 

Coconut Recipes:

  1. Coconut Milk

  2. Sama rice with coconut milk

  3. Sugar-free, dairy-free coconut macaroons

  4. Coconut & Almond ice-cream

  5. Coconut buttermilk

  6. Coconut Milk Smoothie

  7. Black chana curry with coconut

Include coconut in your daily diet and lifestyle to get the best of nature.

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Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food & lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. The views expressed by the users are their personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.


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