Coconut Nutrition and other Coconut Uses
Coconuts although one of the most nutritious of all fruits, are often overlooked as part of a traditional diet in the United States. Coconuts have been a staple food to many populations such as the Caribbean and Pacific Islands and Asian and Indian cultures for centuries. Coconuts are highly nutritious and have multiple other uses. They are available year round with peak periods from September to April.
Coconut is a fruit that can be consumed in a number of different ways - raw (by eating the flesh), milk, water and oil. The origin of the fruit is not clear, though the two most possible places of its origin are South Asia and South America. Today it is cultivated in almost all the tropical countries.
Coconut is a simple dry nut, formed of three layers. Three outermost layers before finding the coconut water and fruit. The brown husk, formed of fibers is called coir, while the second one is endocarp i.e. an inner stone. As you remove the second layer, you get to the testa, which covers the edible white fleshy part of fruit. Inside is the coconut liquid. Most people think that coconut milk is the liquid inside the coconut, in actuality the liquid inside is coconut water. Coconut water is mostly had from the green coconut, which is not fully ripe.
Coconut water is associated with a number of health benefits.
The coconut water or juice is sterile until opened. It contains sugar, fiber proteins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and provides an isotonic electrolytes balance, making it a nutritious food source. It is used as a refreshing drink throughout the humid tropics, and is used in isotonic sports drinks. Besides being highly nutritious, young coconuts have also been exceedingly revered as having medicinal qualities for heart, liver and kidney disorders.
There are several different ways to enjoy fresh coconuts, which can be young or mature. Young coconuts used to consume the coconut water are called tender coconuts. The coconut will be picked green and will have thin tender flesh inside. It may be eaten but the main reason to pick the fruit at this stage is to drink its water. It tastes mildly sweet. Mature coconuts are the more familiar looking brown hairy variety. Once the coconut matures the fleshy meat will have a more solid texture and less to no coconut water. The nutrients and physical characteristics change as a coconut matures.
Coconut Nutrition Values
The meaty coconut flesh contains more protein than the more popular fruits such as apples, oranges and bananas. It is high in vitamins and minerals and in just 100gm of coconut meat you get:
Carbohydrates - 15.23 gm
Sugars - 6.23 gm
Dietary Fiber - 9.0 gm
Saturated Fat - 29.70 gm
Monounsaturated Fat - 1.43 gm
Polyunsaturated Fat - 0.37 gm
Protein - 3.3 gm
Vitamins and Minerals
Thiamin (Vitamin B1) - 0.066 mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) - 0.02 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3) - 0.54 mg
Vitamin C - 3.3 mg
Calcium - 14 mg
Iron - 2.43 mg
Magnesium - 32 mg
Phosphorus - 113 mg
Potassium - 356 mg
Zinc - 1.1 mg
Energy - 350 kcal (1480 kJ)
Made From Coconut Shell and Coconut Tree Trunks
Other Uses for Coconuts
Coconuts are pretty versatile. Not only are they good eating but every part of the coconut and tree can be used in one way or another. There exists no waste in the life of a coconut and tree in some cultures. Milk, husks, fruit, oil, and shells all gets used. Tree trunks, palm fronds all have uses. Look on the right for the innovative uses for the different parts of the coconut and coconut tree.
Coconut cream is made from pressing the coconut meat. It is used for cooking very similar to heavy whipping cream and a great non-dairy substitute. Coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut meat and water.
In some cultures the husk of the coconuts are burned for smoke and used as a mosquito repellant. The husk is also weaved together to make ropes.
The dried coconut leaves were used to make thatching and roofing materials for tropical huts in the ancient times. Nowadays roofs are made up of coconut leaves and used for tiki huts. Baskets and decorative pieces are woven togther using the leaves.
The hollowed trunk of coconut palm is used as small canoe by the Hawaiians and to make furniture and carved tiki bar stools.
Musical instruments are fashioned out of halved coconut shells and banged together to make up rhythms and beats. They are also used to make the base for other instruments such as maracas and tick tocks.
Coconut Fact: Coconut water mixes well with blood. For this reason it was used during World War II for blood in emergency transfusions.
Don't let the Coconuts Fall on the President
Open a Coconut Easily
Coconut Water Benefits
Coconut Palm Trees
In its native habitat the Coconut Palm grows up to 100 ft, but usually is around 50ft tall. The tree has smooth single gray trunk that is ringed and scarred. Mature palms become smooth with age. Trunk is wider at the base and is usually slightly curved.
Fruits start developing when plant is around 6-10 years old and It takes a fruit around 12 months to fully ripe. Coconut Palm trees bare fruits throughout the year with an average annual production of around 60-200 coconuts per palm tree, depending on growing conditions and palm variety.
Coconut Palms thrive in warm climates and cannot tolerate temperature below 30F without suffering. It grows best in moist well drained soil but can tolerate drought. The average temperature should be around 72F with a lot of rainfalls. Islands like Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Hawaiian Islands, South Florida and the Florida Keys have excellent conditions for these trees. They grow at a fast to moderate rate, again depending on the variety and the climate and may live 100 years, producing fruits until the ripe old age of 80 years.