If the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of coconut is of chocolate coated candy or the sprinkles on top of a puffed pastry, you might not realize the many health benefits that coconut has to offer. There is so much more that a coconut has to offer than just the sprinkled flakes used in bakery products.
First of all, coconut comes in several forms. The dried flakes you find on baked goods are not the only way to eat coconut. In fact, that’s probably the least healthy way to consume it. You can eat the fresh white coconut “meat,” sip the refreshing coconut water from the center of young coconuts, drink coconut milk or use coconut oil for cooking purposes. Of course, you can also sprinkle the dried flakes onto salads, cereals and other foods to enjoy the benefits without over indulging in high-fat, high calorie sugared goods.
Nutritional Facts about Coconut
The meat of a coconut is high in fat, with 17 grams of fat per serving, but contains no trans-fat. It has 2g of protein, 8 g of carbohydrates, 5g of fiber and 180 calories per serving. It also contains a host of vitamins and minerals, including: vitamin C, iron, calcium, vitamin B6, manganese and magnesium. Coconut water is equally high in nutrients. The liquid of the coconut is refreshing and has many health benefits.
Coconut oil is good for losing weight, reducing stress, reducing cholesterol and much more. Cooking with this healthy fat can improve the health of your heart too. No wonder it is gaining popularity as one of the healthier options for cooking oil, along with olive and sunflower oil.
Benefits of Eating Coconut
No matter how you use coconut, whether you eat it raw, cook with the oil or drink the water or milk, you are bound to reap immense health benefits from it. Coconut has been found to:
○ Help in the prevention of heart disease and cancer
○ Replace lost electrolytes to prevent or treat dehydration
○ Prevent kidney stones
○ Aid digestion and treat diarrhea
○ Boost metabolism
○ Act as an anti-aging treatment
○ Relieve stomach ulcers
○ Strengthen the immune system
○ Boost energy
○ Treat obesity
However, too much of anything can’t be good for anyone. That is why, if you eat too much coconut or use too much of the oil in your cooking, you will gain weight. Thus, using it in moderation is the key to optimal benefits from using it.
Additional Uses for Coconut
Apart from eating coconut, you can use it to improve the condition of your hair, skin and nails. It is often used in health and beauty products. Since coconut oil is comprised of 50% lauric acid and has antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties, it is often included in the list of ingredients for products like shower gel, hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dye, body lotion, makeup and skin care. It can help treat skin infections, smoothen split ends, improve acne, moisturize and soften rough skin. It is good for combination skin as well. Best of all, it has a wonderful fresh scent that enhances all of the above mentioned products.
The Wonders of the Coconut are Endless
The hardened, dry shell has been carved and polished to make countless crafted bowls, jewellery, ornaments, buttons and furnishings. Additionally, let’s not forget the coconut shell fibrous husk which holds a tremendous amount of water, making them great for gardening and compost. And let’s not forget ropes and yarns, aquarium filters, car seat covers, flower pots, heat insulation, brushes, bristles, mattresses, door mats and matting, rugs and carpets. By Liya Das