I’m sure all of you must have heard of this amazing fruit. It is known as the ‘tree of thousand uses’ and ‘tree of life’ in some parts of the world due to its innumerable uses. This plant is an integral part of the southern India. You can find coconut is almost all their food preparations. Not that it isn’t common in other areas. Most of you must have come across it at some point of time or other. Like when you drank the refreshing coconut water on that hot, summer day. It’s common to break coconut for good luck before initiating any new work. Coconut is an absolute delicacy, whether it is used as a main course or a desert. There are many health benefits of coconut, and the products extracted from it.
In general, coconut is very good for our immune system. It is anti-microbial and quite efficient against the various parasitic fungi, viruses and bacteria. This is due to the presence of a chemical substance known as Lauric Acid, which makes up for almost half of the fatty acids. It is very effective against many maladies such as influenza, tapeworms, bronchitis and several others.
Consumption of coconuts is very beneficial for the teeth and bones. It is gluten free and thus excellent for those who are lactose intolerant, to compensate for the calcium from dairy products. Osteoporosis, a very dangerous illness which gradually lowers the density of bones can be avoided with this. It helps body in absorbing important minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Coconut is high in fibre content. Almost 60% of coconut is composed of it. This makes it an excellent way to get dietary fibres into our system. Fibres are very important for the proper functioning of the body, as they help in proper digestion of food and its absorption. They also avoid many of the digestive disorders and support the absorption of the necessary nutrients.
Coconuts are also quite useful if you are planning to lose weight. It basically reduces your hunger due to the fatty acids in it being metabolised to ketones which reduces your appetite. It also speeds up your metabolism, while providing you with lesser amounts of calories per mass consumed. Fat reduction occurs in the body, mainly the abdominal region.
It has been observed that coconut reduces cravings for sweet and has a positive effect insulin secretion. This means a lower consumption of high calorie deserts.
In addition to the coconut itself, various coconut products such as coconut oil, water, milk etc. also have many benefits.
Coconut water is an excellent source of hydration due to high purity and electrolyte content .It is often termed as a natural sports drink as it provides instant energy to the body, which is used quickly rather than being stored as fats. Also, it is rich is calcium and various other electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. Surprisingly, coconut has the same electrolyte levels as blood plasma and has been used extensively in blood transfusions during the World War II.
For many years, coconut oil was regarded as dangerous for health because it contains 87% saturated fats. Now I know how we all have heard the negative effects of saturated fats such as heart problems, increased cholesterol, etc. However, this has been proved to be a myth in case of coconut oil. This is so because it contains MCTs (Medium Chained Triglycerides) i.e. fatty acids of medium length which are harmless as compared to the other fatty acids containing LCTs( Long Chained Triglycerides). Infact, coconut oil actually helps in controlling the blood cholesterol levels. It decreases the bad cholesterol and raises the level of good cholesterol. This, coupled with the decrease in over all body fat reduces the risk of heart problems.
Coconut oil provides many other health benefits as well. It helps in curing dangerous conditions such as epilepsy seizures and Alzheimer’s disease. The main reason why its effective against these problems is because the fats it contains are converted into ketones. In epilepsy patients, mostly children, these fats induce ketosis. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, mostly in the elderly. Ketones supply the much needed energy for the brain, and reduce the symptoms of this disease. Even a research has showed that MCTs provide an instant boost to the brain functioning of the patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s. Now coconut oil is being tested as a therapeutic agent against these illnesses.
Apart from these dietary benefits, coconut oil is also very good for cosmetic purposes. It is an anti-oxidant and protects the skin from toxic chemicals. Instead of using an anti-aging creams, coconut oil is a healthier alternative. It keeps the skin smooth and moisturized. It also acts as a natural sun screen. Coconut oil is known to treat several skin disorders, such as dermatitis etc.
People who apply coconut oil regularly to their hair find that their hair become lustrous soon after they start to use it. It prevents them from becoming dry and itchy and is perfect for removing dandruff.
Owing to its anti bacterial properties, it can also be used for dental care. Applying a little coconut oil to the teeth and gums reduces the chances of cavities and gum diseases. A good way to cut the escalating dental medical bills.
Who knew such a simple, common fruit like a coconut had so many health advantages. Even the supposedly waste extracted from it has an important application. Coir, the fibrous, spongy husk of the coconut is used for a variety of purposes such as for mattresses, brushes padding, ropes and many more. Overall, coconut benefits us in every health related matter. Its consumption ensures our continued fitness, both physical as well as mental. So I would urge each of you to make full use of this wonderful creation of nature. Go to your nearest street vendor selling coconuts and enjoy this mouthwatering fruit, while building your overall health at the same time.