Native to the Pacific, coconuts spread too much of the tropics on ocean currents before human intervention. It has been used throughout history in South Asia for a wide range of purposes.
Early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means “monkey face” because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resemble the head and face of a monkey.
Cocos nucifera is a large palm, growing up to 30 m (98 ft) tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m (13–20 ft) long. Coconuts are generally classified into two general types: tall and dwarf. On very fertile land, a tall coconut palm tree can yield up to 75 fruits per year.
The coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and is highly tolerant of salinity. It prefers areas with abundant sunlight and regular rainfall. Coconuts also need high humidity for optimum growth, which is why they are rarely seen in areas with low humidity.
The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished people all over the world for thousands of year.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Containing Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, sodium, Manganese, Zinc, Copper and Selenium. For more information check out the Nutritional Data Facts
For thousands of years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine.
In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.
Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Many studies have been published in medical journals showing that coconut, in one form or another may provide a wide range of health benefits. Here are some of them:
ANTIOXIDANT: Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease, functioning as a protective antioxidant. Coconut oil does not deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
BACTERIA: Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and other diseases.
BLOOD GLUCOSE: Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
CANCER: Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers and supports and aids immune system function.
DIGESTION: Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers. Improves digestion and bowel function and relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
FIBER: Coconut supplies an impressive 61% dietary fiber!
FUNGI AND YEAST: Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
HAIR: Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion and helps control dandruff.
HEART: Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease. Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
INFLAMMATION: Reduces inflammation and supports tissue healing and repair.
KIDNEYS: Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections. Dissolves kidney stones.
LIVER & GALLBLADDRE: Helps prevent liver disease and relieves symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
OSTEOPOROSIS: Helps protect against osteoporosis.
PANCREAS: Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body. Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
PARASITES AND TAPEWORMS: Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
SKIN: Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection. Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin and softens skin, helping relieve dryness and flaking. It also prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots and provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
SOURCE OF ENERGY: Provides a nutritional source of quick energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance. Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Coconut oil is also utilized by the body to produce energy instead of being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
SWEET CRAVINGS: Reduces Sweet Cravings and improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose. The healthy fat in coconut slows down any rise in blood sugar and helps to reduce hypoglycemic cravings.
TEETH: Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay. Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
THYROID: Supports thyroid function.
VIRUSES: Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
WEIGHT: Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate therefore it helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
ADDITIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS
In addition, coconut contains no Trans-Fats, is Gluten-Free, is non-Toxic, hypoallergenic, and also contains Antibacterial, Antiviral, Antifungal, and Anti-parasitic healing properties. Coconut helps to aid and support overall Immune System functions.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Unfortunately, most U.S. supermarkets do not carry fresh coconuts. However, they are widely available in ethnic grocery stores, such as Asian or Latino markets, farmers’ markets and health food stores. If you are unable to locate a source near you, try requesting them at your local health food store, as many will carry them upon request.
Look for coconuts that feel heavy for their size and are without cracks. Shake the coconut. You should hear liquid moving around and the coconut should sound full.
Avoid coconuts with eyes “that are damp, moist or moldy.”
Coconuts are available year round; however their peak season is October-December.
Unopened coconuts can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 months. Place fresh grated coconut in a tightly sealed container (or plastic bag) and refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months.
HOW TO PREPARE
The fruit can be eaten at different stages of its ripeness. The white flesh of the seed is used for cooking desserts, different savory dishes. The plant can provide coconut flour, which is often utilized in baking.
If you would like a tasteful side dish for your meals, you can fix a simple coconut chutney recipe. Mix fresh shredded coconut meat, ginger juice, fresh mint and coriander leaves, minced garlic, thinly sliced red pepper, lemon juice, and coconut milk in a bowl. You can top this with toasted coconut meat prior to serving if you want to add a subtle sweet and tangy taste.
HOW TO ENJOY
Coconut meat is so versatile that it can be eaten raw, cooked, or as a preserve. You can top your usual salads with shredded or grated and then lightly toasted coconut meat. You can use a blender to make it into smoothies as well, mixed with organic full-fat yogurt and fruits like bananas and berries.