9 Amazing Health Benefits of COCONUT

Coconut is a mature fruit of the cocos nucifera palm. Cocos nucifera belongs to the large Palmaceae family of palm trees. Coco palm grows well under tropical climates.

The palm requires moist, sandy, well-drained soil and flourishes well all along the saline-rich coastal regions.

The coconut palm is an un-branched, erect, tall-growing tree that may reach more than 100 feet and has a lifetime of about 75 to 100 years.

Once planted, it may take about 4-5 years to begin their first produce, and often, quite longer time in some species. Several hundred species of the coconut palms grown all over the tropics, and their taste and flavor of water thus may vary according to saline(salt) content in the soil, distance from sea-shore, rain-fall, etc.
coconut palm
Coconuts in a cocus nucifera palm.
coconut
Sweet, delicious coconut meat.

In a season, a single coconut palm may produce 20-150 mature nuts. The fruit is almost spherical to oval in shape and measure between 5-10 inches in width.

Its rough outer husk is light green, and turns gray as the nut matures. The husk is about 1-2 inches in thickness and made of tough fibers. Underneath the husk, there is a woody shell enclosing inner edible kernel (endosperm). Just harvested mature fruits contain some amount of sweet water inside its central hollow cavity surrounded by the white meat (endosperm).

The fruit with its shell, kernel, and water together constitutes a “coconut” at the commercial level.

Health benefits of coconut

  • Coconut is a very versatile and important fruit for most people under the tropical belt. It is a complete food is rich in calories, vitamins, and minerals. An average-size nut weighing 400 g edible meat and water provide almost all the daily-required essential minerals, vitamins, and energy for a medium-sized person. 
  • A 100 g kernel consists of 354 calories. Much of this comes from the fats and protein. Although, its meat is disproportionately high in saturated fats on comparison to other common edible nuts, coconut has many bioactive compounds that are essential for better health.
  • The important saturated fatty acid in the coconut is lauric acid (1:12 carbon fatty acid). Lauric acid increases HDL cholesterol levels in the blood. HDL is a high-density lipoprotein, which has beneficial effects on the coronary arteries by preventing vessel blockade (atherosclerosis). Medicine recommends high HDL to total cholesterol levels in the blood for the same reason.
  • Coconut water is a very refreshing drink to beat thirst. The juice is packed with simple sugar, electrolytes, minerals, and bioactive compounds such as cytokinin, and enzymes such as acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, peroxidase, polymerases, etc. Altogether, these enzymes aid in digestion and metabolism.
  • Coconut oil extracted from the dry nut is an excellent emollient agent(has a soothing and moisturizing effect when applied to the skin). It can be used in cooking, to help scalp hair nourishment, in pharmacy and in medicines.
  • Research studies suggest that cytokinins (e.g., kinetin and trans-zeatin) in coconut water showed significant anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-thrombotic effects.
  • The kernel is an excellent source of minerals such as copper, calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
  • It is also a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, and pyridoxine. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.
  • Coconut meat and water contain a very good amount of potassium. 100 g of fresh meat contains 356 mg or 7.5% of daily required levels of potassium.
     
    See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

    Coconut (Cocus nucifera), Fresh,
    Nutrition Value per 100 g
    (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
    Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
    Energy 354 Kcal 18%
    Carbohydrates 15.23 g 12%
    Protein 3.3 g 6%
    Total Fat 33.49 g 167%
    Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
    Dietary Fiber 9 g 24%
    Vitamins

    Folates 26 µg 6.5%
    Niacin 0.540 mg 3%
    Pantothenic acid 0.300 mg 6%
    Pyridoxine 0.054 mg 4%
    Riboflavin 0.020 mg 1.5%
    Thiamin 0.066 mg 5.5%
    Vitamin C 3.3 mg 5.5%
    Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
    Vitamin E 0.24 mg 2%
    Vitamin K 0.2 µg <1%
    Electrolytes

    Sodium 20 mg 1%
    Potassium 356 mg 7.5%
    Minerals

    Calcium 14 mg 1.4%
    Copper 0.435 mg 48%
    Iron 2.43 mg 30%
    Magnesium 32 mg 8%
    Manganese 1.500 mg 65%
    Phosphorus 113 mg 16%
    Selenium 10.1 µg 18%
    Zinc 1.10 mg 10%
    Phyto-nutrients

    Carotene, beta 0 µg --
    Phytosterols 47 mg --
     

Selection and storage

tender coconuts ready for drink
Tender coconuts filled with sweet water ready to drink.
coconut, husk removed
Coconut; outer husk removed. Note for "eyes" at the top end.
Coconut is a very stable fruit. Dry nuts in the husks can be stored for months in cool, dry, and humid-free place. However, once cut open, fresh mature meat may deteriorate rather quickly if kept open for few hours at room temperature.

Its water and meat contain simple sugars which attract fungus as well as bacteria that attack the kernel. Cut-opened raw kernel and grated coconut should be placed inside the refrigerator to prevent decaying.

If using the powder, reconstitute it with cold water following the instructions described on the packet. 

Safety profile

Coconut is a very healthy item that can be used safely as food. There are no reported allergic reactions of any sort notified so far following its consumption. Its delicious kernel is not only cherished in healthy but considered safe in pregnancy, infants as well as in diseased conditions.


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