Coconut Health Benefits – Yummy and Healthy

Coconut Health Benefits

Coconut health benefits exist both in the mature and immature stages of a coconut. The water from a young coconut is used as a refreshing, and revitalizing sport drink. The fatty acids found in coconut meat are antiviral and antibacterial. Plus, studies show that the saturated fat from coconut doesn’t appear to have an impact on cardiovascular health.

All the goodness of coconut

The meat from mature coconuts is consumed in dishes, deserts and beverages. It is also pressed to make coconut milk. The extracted oil is used for cooking, soap, heating, lighting, moisturizing, health care products and cosmetics. It’s husk is used in grow mats as seed starters, and it's wood turned to charcoal for water filtration. The wood is also used in cooking, toys, and building products.

Coconut treats

Coconut treats

It’s called the tree of life because the entire palm is used (meat, water, husk, shell, leaves, and wood). But the best use is, in my opinion, is for it’s health properties. For each 100 gram serving, there are 354 calories with 24 grams of carbohydrates, along with vitamins and minerals. The raw meat contains about 33 grams of fat, about 35% of it’s total content. Of that fat, 60% is in the form of lauric acid.

Coconut water and coconut milk

In the young coconut, the water contains only about 19 calories. Coconut milk which is pressed from the mature coconut flesh contains the oil and the aromatic parts of the coconut. It’s fat content is about 24%, and one cup of this milk has over 552 calories which is why it is used sparingly in dishes.

The external husk of the coconut is a fibrous casing protecting the hard kernel within. The kernel contains coconut water or some milk depending on the maturity of the coconut.

Coconut now exists in over 90 countries around the world. So wherever you are you should be close to a source.

Coconut sugar and protein

The concentration of sugars in the young coconut vary through it’s maturity cycle. It starts around 1.5% to 5.5% (glucose, fructose, and sucrose), and when fully mature (9 months) it decreases to 2% - mostly sucrose.

Maximum protein content occurs in 10 month old nut. Green unripe coconuts contain meat which is soft and jelly like and can be removed with a spoon. However the mature coconut requires hard tools to scrape and remove the edible meat. The white meat of the coconut kernel is about 4.3% globulin. Globulin is one the major blood proteins of the human body alongside albumins, and fibrinogens.  Globulins are produced in the liver or by the immune system in the human body.

Removing coconut meat

Removing coconut meat

Coconut health benefits

The electrolytes in coconut water resemble intracellular fluid more closely than extracellular plasma. Therefore, there have been documented cases of it being used an an intravenous drip during medical emergency procedures. This is due to it’s similarity to plasma.

It contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Sodium, chloride, and phosphate are also present in much lower concentrations. Coconut water is also rich in many essential amino acids including lysine, leucine, cystine, phenylalanine, histidine, and tryptophan.

Coconut water is used as a rehydration fluid from diarrhea due to it’s beneficial levels of amino acids, sugars, vitamins, and minerals. So it is quite beneficial for rehydration.

Athletic performance is a highly studied area. Rehydrating on or off the field is the utmost in importance to both elite athletes and weekend warriors.

The sugars present in coconut water are mostly glucose and fructose in the immature coconut, and sucrose in the mature coconut. Coconut water helps to replace glucose in the body, which is our main source of energy fuel.

Rehydration with coconut water

Whole body rehydration and blood volume was studied after exercise. The study used 3 fluids - fresh young coconut water, carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage and plain water. Rehydration was similar in all 3 fluids, but plasma glucose concentration was significantly higher with coconut water and the carbohydrate-electrolyte-beverage versus water. Furthermore, coconut water was more enjoyable to drink, sweeter, and caused less fullness and nausea. Plus there were no reported upset stomach conditions in the study. This made it a healthy drink, that was far easier to consume.

Coconut water

Coconut water

Coconut water is a natural, raw, and refreshing beverage that can be consumed straight from the young coconut with a straw. Next time you are exercising replace your store bought energy drink with fresh coconut water.

When traveling, especially to South East Asia, young coconuts are plentiful, and sold on the streets. In the United States young coconuts are mostly sold in Asian Markets of the major cities.  These young coconuts are imported from other countries. But in Florida they can be found near Miami  such as this big 40 acre coconut palm plantation.

Antibacterial & anti fungal

Coconut contains two antimicrobial fatty acids (lauric acid - 50%, capric acid - 6%). Both are found in the fat of the coconut. Lauric acid has antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal properties. Capric acid is also antimicrobial. Coconut fat normalizes body lipids, helps protect the liver from alcohol damage, and reduces the anti-inflammatory response of the immune system.

Lauric acid is formed into monolaurin in the human body. Monolaurin is an antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal that destroy some viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria including Listeria monocytogenes and Helicobacter pylori, and protozoa such as Giardia lamblia.  Lauric acid also appears to inactivate fungi, yeast and protozoa including several species of ringworm, and the yeast candida albicans.

Capric acid is formed into monocaprin in the human body. Monocaprin has also been shown to have antiviral effects against HIV and is being tested for antiviral effects against herpes simplex and for antibacterial effects against Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted bacteria.

Coconut - saturated fat and cholesterol

Lauric acid and myristic acid from coconut are both found in breast milk. They have also been beneficial in combating or reducing the risk factors in heart disease.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil

Two groups of Polynesians on separate atolls were studied for their consumption of coconut and the their associated levels of saturated fat, and cholesterol. Each group both ate coconut as a staple food. Group 1 had a higher percentage of coconut in their diet than Group 2 (63% vs 34%). As a result Group 1 had a higher intake of saturated fat, and higher serum cholesterol levels - about 35-40mg higher than Group2.

Both groups show lauric acid, and myristic acid in their fat tissue from the coconut consumed. However, the study was unable to link the high consumption of saturated fat from coconut the the harmful effects of cardiovascular health.

How to gain the coconut health benefits 

  • Buy virgin coconut oil and use a natural moisturizer for face, hands and body. Dab a little on your palm and rub in to your skin until absorbed.
  • Eat a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil to gain the benefits of it's fatty acids (lauric and capric). (I did this for a while, but never got used to it so I switched to eating both the mature coconut meat, and dried coconut )
  • Buy a young coconut at Whole Foods, or your local health food store. They look like small white diamonds about the size of a cantaloupe melon. They are usually in the chilled section. Store in your refrigerator. After exercise, puncture a small hole on top and insert a straw. Enjoy an exquisitely satisfying natural sports hydration beverage. When finished, increase the hole size and scoop out the young coconut meat. It's sooooooooo delicious!
  • Buy dried raw coconut flakes and sprinkle on your morning cereal or fruit
  • Buy a whole, mature coconut. Tap lightly along the entire center perimeter with a hammer until you hear a crack. Continue tapping lightly until the coconut splits open. Remove all the coconut meat and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy a coconut snack anytime, it'stasty and very filling

Mr. Self-Care Says

"This is my favorite dried, raw coconut. Every time I open a new bag, a burst of fresh and inviting coconut fills the room. The small, white flakes have a slight crunch and makes a great afternoon snack!

It's a 2-pack so you won't run out."

Enjoy your coconut today!

No matter how you enjoy coconut your body will thank you. Either as a rehydrating sport drink, or as a food full of antiviral and antifungal benefits.

Coconut is one food you definitely want to have a lot of in your home.

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