Coconuts are a staple among many health enthusiasts and wellness gurus for their many health advantages. When we think about coconuts, we attribute getting the health benefits to coconut water or coconut milk, but have you thought about what makes the coconut so nutritious as a whole?
Coconuts received a bad rep recently for being considered as an artery-clogging poison that contributes to heart disease. Despite coconuts being high in saturated fats, it is also rich in fiber and essential nutrients that can be highly nutritious if consumed in moderation.
Botanical Name and Family of Coconut
Coconut is botanically known as Cocos nucifera. It belongs to the Arecaceae or Palm Tree family and has been referred to as Coconut and Kalpavriksha.
What Are Coconuts?
Although the word “nut” is suffixed to it, coconut is botanically not a nut but a type of fruit. Coconut is widely found in tropical countries and is a common ingredient in the cuisine of these areas. Almost all parts of the coconut tree, the fruit, the “water” inside, the kernel, the shell and husk, are used in different ways. In countries such as India, coconut also has a cultural and religious significance.
With a history dating back thousands of years in the western Pacific region, coconut has played an essential role as a food source for the tropical regions. Even though getting through the thick and hard outer layer is a challenging task, the raw coconut inside offers a spectrum of nutrients that is well worth the effort.
Active Ingredients Found in Coconuts
The endosperm of the coconut or the coconut water is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, sugar, antioxidants and proteins. Coconuts also contain:
Coconut oil is a rich source of saturated fats containing medium chain triglycerides that are being proven as beneficial for the heart.
Health Benefits of Coconuts
The coconut water is considered one of the best fluids to help people suffering from dehydration to regain isotonic electrolyte balance. Studies have found that moderate coconut oil consumption can reduce the proportion of “bad” LDL and VLDL cholesterol and increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Aside from that, coconuts also propose the following benefits:
- Support the immune system
- Boost energy and physical endurance
- Improve insulin secretion and symptoms associated with diabetes
- Reduce the risk of heart failure
- Promote weight loss
- Protect against kidney failure and bladder infection
- Support thyroid function
Coconut oil has moisturizing action on the skin and is sometimes used by persons with psoriasis. Traditionally, it has been used in combination with other herbs for hair care and skin care.
How to Use Coconuts
The coconut shell may be broken to obtain the sterile liquid within, which can be directly consumed. Coconut is often grated and used in cooking to garnish vegetable dishes or to prepare gravy. Coconut oil may be applied to skin, scalp and hair. It may also be mixed with other herbs or oils and used.
Coconuts are also used to make flour, milk, cream and sugar, which can be used for cooking or used in different beauty remedies.
Coconuts are safe for general consumption and there are no reported side effects in the quantities normally used in food or externally applied. Although coconuts are high in saturated fats, when consumed in moderation, it can offer a variety of nutrients that can benefit your body from the inside out.
As always, make sure you speak to your doctor before consuming coconuts to ensure that adding this fruit to your diet is beneficial for you.
The content of this Website is for informational purposes only, is general in nature and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and does not constitute professional advice. The information on this Website should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program and/or any of the beauty treatments.
Yong JWH, Ge L, Ng YF, Tan SN. The Chemical Composition and Biological Properties of Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) Water. Molecules 2009, 14, 5144-5164; doi:10.3390/molecules14125144
Mandal MD, Mandal S. Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine (2011)241-247