There has been a lot of confusion surrounding coconuts as it’s parts are used to prepare different types of products which have very different nutritional properties – some very healthy, some more controversial. We will try to clear the air and look at the different benefits coconut might provide via its different uses.
First of all the coconut is not really a nut but a fruit from a palm grown in tropical climate. It seed is the brown coconut we know and contains the white ‘meat’ which we usually consume. Usually we first consider all of the benefits relating to the product. This time due to the high controversy involved, it seems more appropriate to investigate the facts behind the arguments against coconut products with the same level as the benefits.
Coconut Oil Benefits
As we can see coconut meat itself is less rich in fats overall than almonds for example, however there is higher amount of saturated fats. The 90% from total fats almost exceed even the amount of saturated fats even in the butter. It has become very popular to use coconut oil within people who try to avoid butter. Coconut oil is no better than butter you would say? But let’s look at the cholesterol in coconut oil – 0%. This is the BIG fact that attracts so many people to choose coconut oil. People who fight to get their cholesterol levels down indeed might be helped by using this product however the health risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes associated with exceeded amounts saturated fats in the diet will not be reduced. Other plus point is that 50% of the saturated fats come from lauric acid which is believed to be used in the liver for energy production straight away. The acid is converted to monolaurine which has antibacterial properties. The smoking point is though for coconut oil lower thus this oil becomes dangerous to health much quicker than other oils if heated.
Coconut Water Benefits
I admit this is not a great start for coconuts, but the reality check had to be done first. On other hand we can look at the nutritional values derived from coconut water which accommodates in the middle of young and green coconut. From one coconut you can get up to 220g of its water. This liquid contrasts completely with the oil. It seems to have absorbed the best qualities coconut can ever give you and not without a reason has become a popular health-drink. There are 0 fat, a lot of fibre and different minerals and vitamins present.
Sports Performance and well-being
Electrolytes like Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium are subject to loss during exercise as drinking water in excessive amounts in order to hydrate the body, athletes tend to flash out. Alongside with boost of energy muscles will have enough supply of electrolytes to enhance the performance. Potassium intake will prevent hypokalaemia, reduce risks of hypertension and stroke (see also benefits of eating bananas).
Magnesium however will also shorten migraines. Calcium even less occurring still will contribute to prevention of osteoporosis and is correlated with reducing risks of breast cancer and formations of kidney stones (Check more in benefits of eating cheese).
Antioxidants will also contribute to scavenging free radicals which might cause cancer otherwise. Compared with classic sports drinks coconut water contains also less sodium, contain just natural sugars and naturally rich in Chloride. This makes coconut water great refreshment when you search for something more than just water.
Both coconut meat and water are rich in fibre. These products have a low GI which describes products who are digested longer and harder in the body. Especially dieters who struggle with cravings are advised to eat low GI products as they keep you feel full for longer. Diabetics can also control their Blood Glucose Levels by following a low GI diet. Dietary Fibre enhances intestinal health thus prevents colon cancer alongside with making different nutrients more bioavailable.
Coconut milk benefits
Most often used in Eastern Cuisine, coconut milk give food an exotic, mild and sweet taste. It is made by processing the coconut meat itself therefore nutritionally is almost no different from the original fruit. It has much higher Iron and Phosphorus content than the coconut water however also bursts with calories from fat. It is great alternative for drinking animal milk and is often said to be better than processed human mother milk as it has similar chemical components.
Iron content will prevent anaemia whereas Phosphorus is the building block of bones and the intake will prevent bone degeneration. Coconut milk is often used in cosmetology due to its Copper and vitamin C content in order to enhance skins elasticity.
Which coconut products to choose?
Although coconut milk itself is very healthy, in the Western World it is mostly bought canned. There are known issues what regard the food safety related to canned fruit and unanswered question about the healthiness. The best way therefore would be eating fresh coconut meat, best when young. Coconut water is great addition to the diet however many health claims related to this product still are under clinical trials.
Benefits of eating Coconuts:
- Provide wide variety of nutrients
- Enhance the bowel movement
- Keep immune system strong
- Enhance physical performance
- Relax muscles
- Strengthen Bones
- Might prevent Cancers
- Prevent anaemia and other nutrient deficiencies
- Contribute to weight loss
- Enhance the lipid profile of blood
- Have anti- bacterial and-fungal properties
- Might prevent diabetes and cardiovascular illnesses
- Enhance the nervous system
- Prevent skin’s ageing