The Health Benefits of Coconuts
The Health Benefits of Coconut
How long has coconut been around
For years coconut has been around, especially in the tropical islands like the Philippians. The word “coconut” came from the root “Cocoas” which originated from a term that is derived from the 16th-century of Portugal and Spain, which is the meaning of the word (coco),meaning "head" or "skull". The shell of the coconut is called the (coco) meaning monkey face because of its three indentations that look like eyes on top of the nutshell. Also, the coconut tree is called the Cocos nucifera, which belongs to theArecaceae family called the palm tree.
Coconut is being used in many different ways
The coconut can be used for different things like milk, oil, water, deserts, including many other things as well. Around the world, coconuts are not just used for eating but can be made out of different products like soap, facial creams, cosmetics and shampoo.
The fruits of the coconut tree
The coconut palm tree
The coconut tree that is called the “Cocos nucifera”grows to the length of30m or (98 ft) tall in structure with pinnate leaves grown up to 4-6 m or (13–20 ft) in length. The old leaves of the palm tree break away easily, leaving the truck of the coconut tree smooth. Coconut palm trees come in two different categories, tall or dwarfed sized. The tall coconut palm trees can have up to 75 coconuts on it within one year, but most likely it produces up to 30 coconuts yearly, often because of poor agriculture. Proper care of the coconut palm trees, with the right kind of conditions, can mature within six to ten years. In order to reach its full potential, it takes (15-20 years) in order to reach its full production of coconuts.
The root of the coconut palm tree
Unlike other coconut palm trees it doesn’t have a” taproot” or “root hairs” but a “fibrous root system”. The fibrous root system consists of a lot of thin roots growing outside of the plant near the surface. This type of root system is known as “fibrous” or “adventitious” that is similar to grass species. On the other hand, other kinds of large trees create a single downward-growing tap root with many feeder roots growing from the tree.
All throughout the coconut palm tree’s life, it continues to create roots at the base of its stem. Depending on the age of the palm tree and its environment, with more than 3, 600 roots, it can live up to 60-70 years in its lifetime. The roots of the tree are three inches in diameter and uniformly thick from its trunk to the tip of the root.
The Inflorescence of the coconut palm tree
The coconut tree creates both male and female flowers, with the same inflorescence. The palm tree is called monoecious or polygamomonoecious. Female flowers tend to be larger than the male flowers. The flowers on the palm tree grow all seasons of the year and are cross-pollinated, although dwarf trees are self-pollinating.
Where are coconuts grown
Coconuts are grown in the South to South-East Asia and throughout the Pacific Islands. People in this part of the world have used coconuts for centuries and still do today. In these countries, the coconut doesn’t go to waste; in fact, they use many parts of the coconut. For example, the hard shell of the coconut can be used for things like making bowls or hardwood floors for your kitchen. Also, most of the people, even today, have a diet rich in coconut that provides lots of vitamins, calories, fat and minerals.
Coconut milk is shredded and soaked in hot water until the coconut cream rises to the top which is skimmed off. The remaining liquid can be squeezed through a cheesecloth to drain the white liquid into a large bowl. The process of coconut milk is squeezed again and again until it’s turned into milk and not cream. Coconut milk is highly rich in vitamin C, E, B1, B3 and B5. It has lots of fiber, minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Also, it’s lactose free.
The oil of the coconut is removed from the meat of mature coconuts that have been harvested from the palm tree. It’s used in various different things like frying, cooking and medicine because it is high in saturated fat that oxidizes slower, making it resistant to offensive odors lasting up to two years and without spoiling.
Coconut water is low in calories, fat, cholesterol with lots of potassium. It hydrates better than regular water. Another benefit to coconut water is it helps with hangovers, helps prevent kidney stones and cancer, as well. The water is tasty, refreshing, with a nutty flavor. It contains a digested carbohydrate in the form of sugar and electrolytes. Coconut water contains 5.45 calories, 1.3 grams of sugar, 61 milligrams (mg) of potassium, and 5.45 mg of sodium compared to Gatorade, which has 6.25 calories, 1.75 grams of sugar, 3.75 mg of potassium, and 13.75 mg of sodium.
Coconut cream comes from a thick, rich plant-based food that comes from the raw coconut. After harvesting the raw coconut, the white part is removed, grated and soaked in water until the cream rises to the top then skimmed off. Coconut cream is high in calories and saturated fat, so it’s better to eat it in moderation. This raw nut is thick and rich. Coconut cream has 100 calories per 2 tablespoons, 1 gram of protein, 10.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 0.6 grams of fiber. About the same amount of coconut meat, 1 ounce has approximately 200 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 19.5 grams of fat and 6 grams of carbohydrates.
Consuming large amounts of coconut in your diet will speed up metabolism increasing the amount of fat you burn preventing obesity. Also, it will increase your energy levels, reducing fatigue.
In order for the heart to function normally, it needs both short and medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). Approximately, 98% of the fatty acids are long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) that don’t have negative results on cholesterol levels leading to atherosclerosis which helps protect arteries that lead to heart disease and stroke.
Coconut, unlike other kinds of fiber like psyllium, oat bran, wheat bran and rice bran, it has 61% dietary fiber. There are two types of carbohydrates – digestible and non-digestible. Digestible carbohydrates (soluble fiber) consist of starch and sugar, promoting calories. On the other hand, non-digestible fiber (insoluble fiber) consist of zero calories. Coconut doesn’t have digestible fiber in it resulting in no calories that lowers blood sugar.
Lowers Blood Sugar
The low glycemic index (GI) determines how fast food can raise blood sugar levels. Coconut fiber decreases glucose levels resulting from the use of less insulin. Coconut is easier on the pancreas and enzymes in the body, preventing type 2 diabetes.
Reducing Sweet Cravings
Coconut improves insulin secretion controlling glucose levels in the blood. The healthy fats in coconut slow down blood sugar spikes and reduces food cravings.
Not only coconut helps with controlling sugar levels in the blood, but it also helps with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive concerns. Also, it helps to absorb vitamins, minerals and amino acids that helps with digestion.
Improves Energy Levels
Rather than storing fat, coconut burns fat more effectively, breaking down sugar levels in the blood. It has positive effects on exercise and helps regulate thyroid levels in the blood.
Brain Health –
Not only coconut oil helps to protect you from heart disease, but it can help to prevent dementia, as well. According to Oxford University, using coconut oil has improved memory loss. Studies have shown that ketones which are byproducts of fats in the brain, helps to play a vital role in brain health. The idea of increasing ketones that are found in coconut oil, improves memory loss.
Coconut has no trans fats, is gluten free, free of toxins, hypoallergenic and has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and is anti-parasitic helping to improve the immune system.
For many years, doctors and other healthcare professionals have discouraged their patients from using coconut oil because it’s high in saturated fat. Now, after many years of study, they’re discovering it helps with many different kinds of diseases, now they’re encouraging coconut oil to their patients. I am glad to see that coconut is being used as a food to increase health benefits. It’s one of nature’s best foods out there.
© 2015 Ruth