From the water to the oil to the meat, the coconut is one of the most beneficial foods you can have in your diet. Not only does it boost your immunity, but it also has antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic properties. By absorbing coconut in any one of its many delicious forms, you are helping your body to fight off potential illnesses. The plethora of nutritious fibers, minerals, and vitamins in coconuts provide us with the nutrients we need to live a healthy life.
The palm tree, from which coconuts grow, has been referred to as “The Tree of Life” by Pacific Islanders for many years. Coconuts are the reason Tom Hanks survived on that island in Cast Away, right? The coconut is the Swiss Army knife of the plant kingdom. Contrary to popular belief, coconuts are actually drupes and not nuts like the name suggests. Drupes have three layers, each layer having the ability to perform a different function. For instance, the husk of the coconut can be braided into rope or used to make brushes, the meat can be consumed or made into oil, and the shell can be an instrument (Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Most of us are probably not picking coconuts off the palm and husking them ourselves, so we probably aren’t going to be braiding husks or making them into fishnets any time soon.
Coconut meat, which packs 61% of dietary fiber, rivals most fiber sources like wheat bran, oat bran, and rice. It helps the body develop healthy bones and teeth because it aids the body’s ability to absorb calcium and magnesium. When it comes to digestion there are two types of carbohydrates, digestible and non-digestible. Digestible carbs have starch, sugar, and promote calories, while non-digestible carbs don’t contain calories. The body cannot digest the dietary fiber in coconuts, meaning that it has zero effect on blood sugar and no calories are derived from it. The fiber actually slows the release of glucose into the blood stream, which means that less insulin is required to transport glucose into cells, where it converts into energy. It improves insulin secretion and helps reduce sugar cravings. So you won’t be craving your favorite sweets if you snack on coconut.
What about coconut water and coconut milk? We didn’t forget, but it’s important to note that the two are not one in the same. Here’s the thing, coconut water is the clear juice that comes out of younger green coconuts and the milk is a combination of coconut cream and coconut water. Coconut milk is commonly found in Southeast Asian cuisine as it provides a certain fat content to thicken stews or soups. Coconut water on the other hand is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and has a low calorie count. Coconut water provides a natural energy boost as it delivers potassium, natural sugars, and electrolytes to the body. It’s a healthier alternative to sports drinks, which are filled with artificial flavors, sugar, and plenty of chemicals.
If you don’t have a coconut palm in your yard and cannot drink fresh coconut water, there are some things to keep in mind when buying coconut water from the store. Many popular coconut waters are made from concentrate, sweetened with flavors or sweeteners, taken from mature coconuts, or pasteurized with heat, which robs the liquid of its nutrients. Coconut waters to avoid are: Naked Juice, Vita Coco, O.N.E., Zico, GOYA, and CocoZona. While those are the popular brands, they are not pure coconut water like Coco Hydro, Taste Nirvana, Juice Press, Exotic Superfoods, or Vital Juice. Something to keep in mind, when drinking coconut water, is that you want it to be pure and straight from the shell; anything from concentrate or pasteurized doesn’t benefit you.
Finally, there is coconut oil, which has an incredible amount of uses and benefits. At first, coconut oil did not have the positive hype that it currently has in America. Many people were skeptical of it because there were rumors that it contained high levels of saturated fat and increased cholesterol. This was a myth. Coconut oil actually decreases cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease, and its natural fat changes into energy, which lessens the chance of fat build up in arteries. Its many uses can be used for baking, cooking, moisturizing, healing, and even an anti-aging remedy. By rubbing coconut oil under your eyes, that natural properties of the coconut will help rejuvenate your skin. Use it all over your body if you want to. It can be a cleanser, if mixed with equal parts castor oil, and you can even break free from the world of anti-perspirant deodorants and make your own natural deodorant with coconut oil.
No matter which way you crack a coconut’s shell, you’ll be glad you incorporated it into your life. Let us know about your favorite coconut remedies, recipes, or how it has helped improve your life.