“Kalpavriksha” or “Kalpataru” is a wish-fulfilling holy tree in the Hindu mythology. In recent times, Coconut is considered as one such tree due to its uses in totality. The wood of the tree could be used for furniture, its branches for building thatched roofs and its inner parts for eating and drinking. Coconut can be consumed in various forms such as coconut oil, coconut water, coconut milk, coconut powder. Benefits of coconut water for health, benefits of coconut oil for skin and hair are eminent. Here is everything you need to know about coconut.
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Table of Contents:
Coconut - What is it?
Coconut, scientifically known as Cocos nucifera, belongs to the family of Arecaceae (Palm family). The word “Coconut” is derived from the term “cocos” meaning “grinning face”. It is abundantly found in Malaysia and Southern Asia.
Coconut is a one-seeded drupe but often confused as a nut. The tall, slender and majestic umbrella-like palm trees can produce coconut up to 13 times a year although it takes almost a year for coconuts to mature. Along with the health benefits of coconut, what makes this tree most cherished is, its ability to produce 60 to 180 coconuts in each harvest.
Nutritional Value of Coconut:
Before we study the health benefits of Coconut, it is appropriate to know the nutritional value of Coconut. Coconut is rich in fibre, vitamins (C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6) and other minerals such as Fe, Se, Na, Ca, Mg, K, P. Coconut is also popular among the vegans and it is the best alternative for cow's milk for those who have lactose intolerance.
The coconut can provide nourishment in many forms: Coconut meat, Coconut water, Coconut oil, Coconut milk.
It is high in fibre and minerals, especially Potassium (K). Each ounce of shredded coconut meat contains 130 Calories, 1 g protein, 8 g fat, 3 g fibre, 3 mg of Calcium, 14 mg of Magnesium, 103 mg of Potassium, 81 mg of Sodium.
Benefits of coconut milk are plentiful and so is the nutritional value of coconut milk. A half cup of coconut milk contains 276 Calories, 3g Protein, 7 g Carbohydrates, 3 g fibre, 4 g sugar and 29 g fat (including 25 g of saturated fat), 316 mg Potassium, 18 mg Sodium, 44 mg Magnesium and 2 mg Iron.
One cup of coconut water contains 46 calories, <2 g Protein, <0.5 g of fat, 9 g Carbohydrates and 2.5 g Fiber, 58 mg Calcium, 60 mg Magnesium, 600 mg potassium and 252 g sodium.
You might have heard the diverse benefits of coconut oil in the form of “coconut oil for skin”, “Coconut oil for hair”, “Coconut oil for cooking” and its popularity in your day-to-day life is because of the high nutritional value of the coconut oil. Just two tablespoon of coconut oil contains 234 calories and amount of daily limit of saturated fats.
Although coconuts contain a significant amount of fats, it is mostly in the form of MCFAs (Medium Chain Saturated Fatty Acids). These are the fatty acids which could be converted into a highly beneficial compound in the body.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the coconut meat or coconut kernel of a matured coconut. Coconut oils are basically of two types: Virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil. Coconut oil can also be distinguished as Virgin Coconut oil and Extra Virgin Coconut oil. But basically, differentiating Extra Virgin Coconut oil from Virgin Coconut oil is meaningless. Although they have different amounts of free fatty acids, there are no regulations to differ both of it based on the purity of the oil. Virgin Coconut Oil is the same as the cold pressed coconut oil. It is produced by cold pressing the liquid from the coconut kernel and then separating the oil, milk and water. Refined coconut oil is the oil which is refined, bleached and deodorized which means Refined coconut oil is basically free from odour and flavour unlike Virgin Coconut Oil and Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.
Benefits of coconut oil are various and to list a few:
1] Coconut oil for hair:
Regular massage with coconut oil is good for hair. It nourishes the hair and prevents dandruff. Applying coconut oil for hair also helps in reducing hair fall and improving hair growth.
2] Coconut oil for skin:
Skin health varies with the weather but if you are the one who would use coconut oil for skin regularly, you actually wouldn’t bother about dry skin or any skin problems such as eczema, dermatitis. Coconut oil acts as the best moisturizer for the skin.
3] Coconut oil for digestion:
Coconut oil for cooking improves the digestion. Regular use of it could prevent stomach troubles such as indigestion, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. Using Coconut oil for cooking also gives you the ability to have antimicrobial properties.
4] Other Benefits:
The list of benefits of coconut oil is ceaseless. It improves memory and brain function, improves immunity, increases good cholesterol, aids healing and soothes infections due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory property and so on. So, it is advised to use coconut oil for cooking.
Health Benefits of Coconut milk:
Coconut milk is produced by brewing the meat of coconut and water and then straining it. The resulting liquid is called “Coconut milk”. Coconut milk is thick like cream. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals and as a result, health benefits of coconut milk is abundant. It also has essential fats and nutrients and the best alternative to dairy milk. It is also known as the good weaning food because of its high lauric acid content.
Other benefits of coconut milk include:
- Coconut milk lowers the cholesterol
- Keeps blood pressure in check
- Helps in gaining weight in children
- Helps in losing field and building muscle
Health benefits of Coconut water:
Health benefits of Coconut water makes it a popular drink. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, electrolytes and amino acids.
Health benefits of Coconut water are as follows:
- Coconut water is low in calories, cholesterol free and rich in potassium.
- Since coconut is rich in fibre, it acts as best digestive aid. It relieves constipation and helps in proper digestion of food.
- It results in electrolyte balance in your body thereby helping you in the time of severe dehydration.
- Antiviral and antibacterial properties of Coconut helps in building up strong immunity.
- Coconut water is also known for its ability to cool your body and provide instant energy.
Coconut - Is it safe during Pregnancy?
Coconut in any form - solid form, tender coconut, raw coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water, coconut meat, etc are packed with essential nutrients that are in demand during pregnancy. It has all the ability to keep the mom-to-be and the child in good health. While the essential fatty acids help in the growth and development of the baby, the lauric acid content present in the coconut helps in increasing the breast milk production in the mother and it also helps in providing the relief from other pregnancy-related illnesses such as joint pain. Hence it is absolutely safe and highly recommended to consume coconut during pregnancy. But it is always best to consume it in moderate quantity and not as a substitute for water. To know the exact amount that could be consumed during pregnancy, you can always get your doctor's suggestion.
How safe is coconut for children?
Coconut belongs to the category of must-haves when it comes to the children. It has various benefits such as hydrating the body, restoring the salts and electrolyte balance, boosting immunity, treating diseases like cholera. Coconut in the form of coconut oil is a remedy for cradle cap, useful for baby massage and treats other skin problems. Although coconut oil for skin and coconut oil for hair is at its best, overusing of coconut oil for cooking could cause damage to your heart kids’ heart health. So, use coconut in limit and it will help your child to have a healthful life.
The coconut tree is known as the tree which could sustain life. Utilize its ability, enjoy its benefits and have a happy and healthy life.