Coconut is a water dispersal fruit and seed. Coconut tree is called 'the tree of life' and the fruit is also called the 'fruit of life'. The fruit is popular for various medicinal as well as culinary uses. The dry, mature nut is used to make coconut oil, soap and cosmetics while coconut milk is used in many food delicacies and beauty products. Desiccated coconut is used in various bakery and confectionery products. Coconut water is used as a thirst-quenching drink and for medicinal purposes, for example, to prevent kidney stones.
Benefits of Coconut
The dietary fiber obtained from coconut is beneficial for prevention of heart diseases and colon cancer. The shell is used to make charcoal, activated carbon, household items, handicrafts and many more products. Even the fibrous husk is useful for making ropes, coir, organic fertilizers, etc.
The inflorescence is used as an ingredient while making sugar, alcoholic drinks and the spathe is used to make helmets, handbags, fans, etc. No, this is not the end, the leaves are used to make paper pulp, baskets, brooms and trays. The trunk provides innumerable wood products and the roots are used in the production of dye, twine and ropes. Thus, from head to toe, coconut is beneficial to all. Coconut nutritional value makes it still more valuable.
Coconut fruit is consumed in a number of forms - raw (flesh), milk, water and oil. South Asia and South America are considered as the possible places of its origin. These days, it is cultivated in almost all the tropical countries. The fruit is formed of a number of layers. The outermost layer is the hard brown husk, made of fibers called coir, while the second layer is called endocarp, meaning an inner stone.
After removing the upper two layers, you can reach the testa (coconut meat), which is the white and fleshy edible part of the fruit. The innermost part, inside the testa, is the coconut water, associated with a number of health benefits. Maximum water can be obtained from the green coconut, which is not fully ripe. The tender testa in a green coconut is very delicious. Coconut sprinkled over rice, vegetables and salads increases their nutritional value.
Given below is the amount of nutrients in 100 gm of coconut meat:
- Dietary Fiber - 9.0 gm
- Protein - 3.3 gm
- Sugars - 6.23 gm
- Carbohydrates - 15.23 gm
- Saturated Fat - 29.70 gm
- Monounsaturated Fat - 1.43 gm
- Polyunsaturated Fat - 0.37 gm
- Calcium - 14 mg
- Iron - 2.43 mg
- Magnesium - 32 mg
- Phosphorus - 113 mg
- Potassium - 356 mg
- Zinc - 1.1 mg
- Vitamin B6 - 0.054 mg
- Folate (Vitamin B9) - 26 μg
- Vitamin C - 3.3 mg
- Niacin (Vitamin B3) - 0.54 mg
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) - 0.300 mg
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1) - 0.066 mg
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) - 0.02 mg
- Energy - 350 kcal (1480 kJ).
Coconut Water and Coconut Nutrition Facts
- As coconut is rich in dietary fiber, it helps improve your digestive health. It prevents constipation.
- It helps thin and emaciated individuals to build up the muscle fast.
- Coconut milk works great for sore throat and helps relieve stomach ulcers.
- Coconut water is believed to lessen the rashes caused by smallpox, chickenpox and measles.
- This water can make your skin glow, by keeping it young.
- The water obtained from the fruit works great for intestinal worms and helps relieve most of the stomach and urinary problems.
- Studies show that coconut helps reduce the viral load of HIV.
- Those who are ill may enjoy high energy levels after consumption of tender coconut and coconut water.
- The organic iodine content of coconut helps prevent simple goiter (enlarged non-toxic thyroid).
- Water from the fruit contains simple carbohydrates. So, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, excessive consumption of the water can lead to weight gain.
- The water helps avoid kidney problems. But as it exhibits diuretic properties, excessive consumption of the water can lead to dehydration (as you will have to visit the toilet frequently).
- Apart from vitamins and minerals, the water contains the element 'lauric acid' which is found in breast milk. So consumption of the water can prove to be beneficial for lactating women.
- The water is beneficial for people diagnosed with diabetes. But certain studies show that excessive consumption of the water can prove to be harmful for diabetics. It can lead to severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels. So, it is better to consume it in limited amounts.
- Frequent consumption of any food or consumption of any food in excessive quantities leads to the development of an allergy for the food. When the body receives the same type of food again and again, the immune system starts treating the food as an 'enemy'. The same rule applies to coconut and coconut water.
Nutritional Value of Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is the liquid extracted from ground coconut meat and water. It is the milky white sweet liquid which is obtained by squeezing grated coconut and warm water. It is used to prepare yummy mouth-watering desserts, sauces, soups and curries. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, potassium, folate and other vital nutrients. It is included in the list of healthy superfoods. One cup of canned coconut milk contains 445 calories, whereas frozen milk contains 485 calories. Raw coconut milk contains the maximum number of calories, which are approximately 552.
Nutritional Value of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is used for cooking and it is also applied to skin and hair. It softens the skin, and keeps it young and glowing. Regular application of this oil to scalp helps improve the quality of hair. You can have thick and long hair with coconut oil massage. Head massage or skin massage is a great way of relaxation. Apart from these uses, it is also beneficial in case of the following ailments.
- Heart Diseases
- Poor Digestion
- Kidney problems
- High cholesterol levels
- Low immunity
- High Blood Pressure
- Dental problems
- Low metabolism
- Low Bone Density
- Premature aging
I am sure, you would incorporate coconut in your regular diet, because now you know that it is a natural elixir of life!