Table of Contents
- 1 Coconut: One Fruit, Numerous Uses
- 2 Tracing Back the History of Coconuts
- 3 Types of Coconuts
- 4 Benefits of Coconut
- 5 Coconut as a Superfood: Nutritional Value
- 6 Too Much of Good Is Bad
- 7 Uses of Coconuts
- 8 Coconut Oil – A Popular Product
- 9 Things to Look Out for When Buying Coconut Oil
- 10 Top Five Recommended Coconut Oils
- 10.1 Viva Natural Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 10.2 Carrington’s Farm Coconut Cooking Oil
- 10.3 Island Fresh Super Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
- 10.4 Nature’s Way Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 10.5 Sky Organics Extra Free Virgin Coconut Oil
- 11 Coconut Sugar – A Healthy Alternative?
- 12 Top Five Recommended Coconut Sugars
- 12.1 Nutiva Organic Coconut Sugar
- 12.2 Wholesome Sweeteners, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
- 12.3 Madhava Natural Sweet Organic Pure and Unrefined Coconut Sugar
- 12.4 Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Coconut Sugar
- 12.5 Viva Natural Organic Coconut Sugar
- 13 Conclusion
Coconut: One Fruit, Numerous Uses
You might have heard people referring to coconut palms as the tree of life. The tree has earned this title owing to its vast array of uses. After all, it is hard to find a tree and a fruit that is utilized to the same extent as a coconut tree is.
Today, we are going to concentrate our discussion to the fruit itself. While you might think that limiting the discussion to merely coconut-based items would reduce the number of benefits and products, the truth is that the fruit itself is a source of innumerable advantages and is used in a variety of ways.
There is no fruit in the world that you can claim is worth missing out on. All of them succeed in providing some sort of health benefit to those who consume them. However, none of them come close to offering as much as a coconut does.
Tracing Back the History of Coconuts
Those of you who are interested in the etymology of words might wonder how the coconut got its name. Well, it all started when a few explorers came across this fruit, which they had never seen before, on the islands of the Indian Ocean. They described the fruit as having a grinning face owing to the three holes exhibited by it. They then proceeded to name it coconut with "coco" standing for the smiling face of a monkey.
Journey to the West
The discovery of coconut can be traced back to the beginning of history. However, it was not until the 6th century that the fruit became known in the western parts of the world. When it was first imported to Egypt, it failed to become a household name.
Even in the Middle Ages, it was rare to get your hands on the fruit and hence, it was seen as a prized possession by those who had them. For this reason, many people of the Middle Ages polished the empty shells of coconuts and used them to mount gold.
Then came the 19th century when route development started on a massive scale in Europe. This led to better prospects of fruits along with other items reaching the European markets. Coconut also found its way into the use of the common man.
While it is comparatively easy to trace when and how the fruit found its way to the western world, the same cannot be said about the origination of coconuts. Some claim that the fruit first grew in South Pacific islands, but no one can say this with certainty.
After all, there have also been reports of fossil coconuts been found in both India and New Zealand. Other research shows that the fruit might have originated from South East Asian Peninsula.
Why are there such varying reports? Well, this is because a coconut palm is known not to remain static as its seed has the ability to float. The giant size of the seed itself means that it might have floated around the world and had grown in any tropical place where the climate was fit for its survival. How can we then establish with certainty where it originates from?
There has been a vast amount of speculation about what the first ever coconut must have looked like. After a lot of research, it is now believed that the initial tree had borne coconuts which had thick husks and were tall. Such kinds of coconuts are found in Philippines and Northeastern Australia.
Types of Coconuts
The varieties of coconut can be divided into two types, namely tall and dwarf varieties.
This is the kind of coconut you are most likely to find in various parts of the world as it is cultivated by the masses. You can identify it with the help of its long trunk and swollen base, which is commonly referred to as bole. You can expect tall coconut trees to have a height of 15 to 18 meters and a life of a few years short of a century.
As this kind of coconut tree thrives under varying climatic conditions, places like Philippines and Fijis are known to inhibit these trees. Compared to the dwarf variety, the copra and fiber extracted from tall coconuts are of much better quality.
While the tall variety is the favorite of countries that artificially cultivate coconuts, most countries where the fruit grows naturally showcase the dwarf trees. As the name suggests, these types of trees are marked by their short height. Moreover, they tend to bear fruit quite early and self-pollinate throughout their lives. The trunk of this variety is quite thin and does not feature a bole which is swollen.
It is true that this type of tree bears fruits much more frequently than the tall variety, but such instances are also marked by irregularities. Moreover, these trees can only bear fruits for 25 years. Even with such short lives, these kinds of coconut trees receive a lot of attention in India. This is because the country uses the trees to cultivate hybrids that channel their benefits while ignoring their shortcomings.
Benefits of Coconut
For those of you who are massive consumers of coconuts one way or another, here are some of the advantages you are being provided with.
Protects Against Diabetes
You might have a tough time believing this health benefit. After all, coconut is such a sweet fruit. Regardless of the sweetness your taste buds are exposed to when you bite into a piece of coconut, the fruits lie quite low on the glycemic index. This means that the consumption of this fruit does not have much of an effect on your blood sugar level.
Moreover, since it is rich in fiber, the fruit plays an integral part in relaxing the secretion of enzymes from the pancreas. The low glycemic index combined with the high fiber composition allows coconuts to stop the occurrence of diabetes.
Cleanses Bacteria, Fungi, and More
It is astonishing what a mere coconut can provide you with. Not only does it clean the body from bacteria, but this act of cleansing also encompasses fungi, parasites, and viruses. All these things are considered to play a significant role in the occurrence of many diseases, and the fact that a coconut helps you to fight against it all means that it protects you from an array of diseases.
Whether it be influenza, herpes or bronchitis, consuming a raw coconut or its oil form is bound to keep you healthy.
Strengthens Your Immune System
Your body itself is equipped with a system which makes sure that it is able to ward off diseases. The immune system is responsible for keeping you healthy by fighting against bacteria and viruses. If your immune system gets weak, you are in for trouble.
You can play your part in boosting this system to guarantee your health. You can do so by consuming coconuts. Why? This is because they are equipped with antioxidants which are known to enhance the immune system for the better. Food items like these tend to ensure that your immunity against diseases is as high as possible and hence, you live a long and happy life.
Slows Down the Aging Process
Even though aging is imminent, most of us wish to delay it as much as possible. No one wishes to sport wrinkles or be burdened by ailments. What you eat governs how you feel and how you look.
We have already discussed how coconut, owing to the abundance of its antioxidants, helps combat diseases. Additionally, the intake of this fruit cleanses your body from toxins that build up over time. By doing so, it inhibits the process of aging.
When it comes to your outward appearance, coconut oil can come into use. When applied to the skin and hair, the product works by transforming your dry skin and hair into the epitome of smoothness.
Packed with Vitamins
Apart from protein and carbohydrates, your body also needs its fair share of vitamins and minerals to maintain and support various bodily functions. The only way that you can provide your body with these much-needed elements is by introducing the right food items into your life.
Coconut itself is a powerhouse of such components with fiber, calcium, potassium, and magnesium forming a major constituent of its nutritional value.
Abundance of Electrolytes
Electrolyte is required by your body as it aids in the maintenance of energy levels and, hence, your day-to day functioning.
Regardless of whether you take part in extensive physical activities, you need a constant high level of electrolytes to ensure that your daily activities are not hampered. Failure to obtain the desired number of electrolytes can lead to problems like cramps and strains.
Coconut water offers its drinkers this component in abundance. It is believed to have the same level of the element as human plasma and, therefore, is used in plasma transfusions as well.
Cures Skin Disorders
Not only does coconut oil beautifies your skin, but it also acts as a way to cure skin ailments like eczema and dermatitis. This is because, as previously mentioned, coconut has anti-bacterial properties. Therefore, its oil can fight against the bacteria causing the illness as well as help repair the damage that is already done.
Healthy Bones and Teeth
Magnesium and calcium are two of the frontrunners which guarantee the development and, hence, the maintenance of bones and teeth. Moreover, the hard exterior of raw coconut renders it perfect for making your teeth strong,
Those of you who are lactose intolerant and are unable to consume most items that are equipped with calcium will find that coconut is the ideal source of it. Therefore, you too can exhibit strong bones, regardless of your dietary limitation.
Coconut as a Superfood: Nutritional Value
You might have often come across people that claim that coconut is a superfood. The reason such a title is given to the fruit is that it is a powerhouse of nutrition. Here are some of the many components that make up the nutrients within a coconut.
Calories and Fat Content
A coconut which weighs 397 grams has around 1400 calories and 133 grams of fat. The high intake of calories combined with a significantly low amount of fat makes it an ideal meal which will be fulfilling in nature yet not concentrated in fat. However, most of the fat included in a coconut is of the saturated type which is known to be less healthy than unsaturated fat. Therefore, if you find yourself eating a lot of coconuts, you need to stop yourself.
Iron and Potassium
Eating a coconut can allow you to fulfill 11% of your daily requirement of iron. This is because each a serving of the fruit contains 2 milligrams of iron. You might find this to be less, but since your body does not require a lot of iron to begin with, the fruit has a satisfactory amount of the mineral.
Potassium is yet another mineral that is present in a copious amount in the fruit. An average serving size of a coconut is known to have 160 milligrams of potassium. This mineral aids in the regulation of your heartbeat and is highly beneficial for you.
Zero Cholesterol and High Fiber Content
Not only is coconut rich in fiber, but it is also free of cholesterol. Therefore, while the fruit helps control your sugar level and cholesterol, it also ensures that it does not do anything to add to the problem.
You can rest assured that you will be protected from strokes and high blood pressure issues. It is hard to find such a heart-healthy food item, and coconut is an exception to that rule.
Too Much of Good Is Bad
Excess of anything has adverse consequences. It does not matter how many advantages a coconut allows you to experience; if you consume too much of it, these benefits will boil down to nothing and you will be faced with side effects. Two of the most common side effects are as follows.
The nutritional value analysis of coconut sheds light on an important fact – coconuts are accompanied by a high number of calories. This high-calorie content of the product means that its overconsumption exposes individuals to possibilities of weight gain.
If you are not a fan of exercising and find yourself eating coconuts a lot, you need to either start taking part in more physical activities than before or reduce your consumption of the fruit. For those of you who are putting on weight, we advise you to do both.
Coconut is high in fiber. As we have discussed, this feature is a source of help for many, especially those who indulge food which is low in fiber. However, the body has its limitations. Overconsumption of coconut and, hence, fiber can lead to the occurrence of constipation.
Additionally, if you feel enlightened by the benefits of eating a coconut, make sure you introduce the fruit into your diet slowly. This is because increasing your fiber consumption suddenly can lead to diarrhea and gas since your body does not get enough time to become accustomed to the new nutrient. Make sure you don’t bombard your intestines with a high amount of fiber. Instead, be smart about it.
Uses of Coconuts
The reason coconut is considered to be a superfood is not only because of the number of benefits it provides to those who eat it but also because of the various uses it can be put to. There is no other fruit in the market that can claim to be as useful as a coconut.
This claim finds substance in the fact that every layer of a coconut is put to use in one way or another, thereby earning the product the title of the tree of life.
The outside of the husk of the coconut features a fiber which is used for making ropes, rugs, mats, brushes, sacks and potting composts. The strength of this part renders it capable to be used as these items for the long run.
Husk and Shell
The husk and shell of the fruit are used in some parts of the world as a form of fuel. This is because coconut husks tend to burn for a long time, thereby being perfect fuel for cooking.
Moreover, the shell is used as a musical instrument. You might have seen a coconut shell being used in theatres to create a certain type of sound. In villages, the shell of a coconut, owing to its shape and capacity, is used as a drinking vessel as well.
The best thing about a coconut is that it proves to be both food and drink. It is full of refreshing water which you can curb your thirst with. In humid areas, coconut water is a force to reckoned with as locals opt for the product rather than artificial beverages.
All coconuts tend to produce water, but the amount of water that the fruit has depends on how young it is. Despite the varying quantities of liquid present, all coconuts succeed in not only hydrating individuals but also providing them with the required number of vitamins, proteins, sugar, and electrolytes.
The Flesh of the Coconut
The white meat of the fruit is used as a food item, which is either eaten fresh or dried off to form copra. The drying process of the coconut is the time when coconut oil is extracted from the fruit, so it can be said that copra is used to get the needed oil.
Additionally, a lot of farmers tend to use copra cake as a form of livestock feed. This ensures the health of the livestock since the flesh of a coconut is packed with various minerals.
The dried or fresh form of the flesh also comes into use in a variety of dishes and desserts and, therefore, is a component which features a high demand.
Yet another use of coconut can be derived from the flesh of the product. Coconut milk is extracted from it and used as a drink or added to seafood dishes.
There are two types of coconut milk the can be consumed, namely thick and thin milk. Both of them have a similar composition and are used for the same purposes. For instance, in Southeast Asia, coconut milk, regardless of what kind it is, is a key ingredient in curries.
Coconut Oil – A Popular Product
Oil that can be extracted from coconut has a variety of uses, ranging from medicinal to topical.
Many people use the oil on their skin since it acts as a moisturizer and works by softening up dry patches of skin. Moreover, it is known to inhibit the occurrence of fine lines as well as eye bags.
Women have made a point to use coconut oil to remove makeup. Not only does it guarantee that your applied makeup comes off easily, but its antibacterial properties also prevent the breakout of zits and acne.
Other topical use of coconut oil includes its role in treating burns and blisters, preventing split ends and dry scalp, curing nail fungi, and improving your skin tone.
Coconut oil when consumed can lead to a number of health-related benefits. Various researchers have linked its consumption to a feeling of relief when faced with gallbladder diseases. For those of you who experience acid reflux, adding coconut oil to your life can greatly reduce your discomfort and pain.
Additionally, coconut oil is used by patients with arthritis since it aids in the reduction of pain and inflammation in such ailments.
Things to Look Out for When Buying Coconut Oil
There is a slim chance that you will be able to extract oil from coconut by yourself. Instead, to avail the advantages of coconut oil, you will have to purchase such products from the market.
There is a seemingly never-ending list of brands that offer coconut oil. However, these offerings might be starkly different regarding the type of oil, the quality of the product and the price charged.
Remember, expensive products are not necessarily the best ones. Make sure you also check the ingredients as well as the purity of the product before you choose it. Here are a few tips that might be useful to you:
- Always ensure that the color of the oil is white if it has a solid consistency or colorless of it is in the liquid form. If you find products which have discoloration in them, there is a high probability that the oil has been contaminated with poor-quality ingredients.
- Those of you who opt for virgin or unrefined oil should make sure that the smell of the oil is that of a coconut. A roasted smell in oils means that is has been overexposed to heat during its manufacturing process and is no longer pure.
- Don’t look at the price of the products as a symbol of their quality. Coconut oils are commonly on the pricey end of the spectrum. However, there is a need to taste and smell a given product to be sure of its quality. If you find it usable, buy it in bulk to keep you and your family satisfied for a few months and to render the need of going to markets unnecessary.
Top Five Recommended Coconut Oils
Here are some of the products that we tried and found to be worth the money.
Viva Natural Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Are you tired of sporting dry and damaged skin and hair? Viva Natural Organic oil can allow you to combat this issue.
You can either use this product in a liquid form or a solid form as both of these ways garner similar results. We found this product to have the classic coconut aroma to it, which speaks volumes about the quality of the oil.
The oil is cold-pressed and stored in an unrefined state to make sure that the various nutrients of the original oil are present when you use the product. It seems to do wonders to both your skin and your hair, leaving them both feeling moisturized and lustrous.
The product also manages to fight off fungi. This is achieved by the addition of coconut oil to the product since coconuts are a known fighter against fungus.
This product has received favorable reviews from customers who have praised it for its quality and the fact that it can be used for both topical and cooking purposes. However, we found the oil to be a little grainy after prolonged use. If you are one of those who goes through jars of coconut oil at a fast rate, you will be satisfied with this product.
Carrington’s Farm Coconut Cooking Oil
This product serves to be an excellent as well as a healthier alternative to traditional oils.
This cooking oil is free from gluten, hexane, and hydrogenated fat. This makes it the perfect choice for those who are dieting or are suffering from heart-related diseases. We found this product to be useful for cooking, sautéing and baking. Therefore, you can incorporate it into your diet regardless of how you cook your food.
The product does not feature a coconut smell. While it claims that the oil has been able to retain its nutrient even after removing the smell, we find this to be hard to believe. However, the fact remains that this oil has a higher heating point than other olive oils and, therefore, is safe to work with even if you cook at high temperatures.
We appreciated the fact that the container of the oil was BPA-free. Also, at the end of the day, since the oil has a liquid form, it has been able to offer more MCT than other oils which enhance the advantages provided. While the product is on the pricey side, the value-added features provided make it worth the extra bucks.
Island Fresh Super Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Whether it is managing your weight or enhancing your metabolism, Island Virgin Coconut Oil has it all covered.
This product can be both consumed as well as applied externally. While using it for cooking allows it to be a much-needed source of energy for your body, applying it to the roots of your hair can lead this oil to become the perfect hair conditioner.
We found this product to have a versatility in use. Not only can it be applied to the hair to make it feel luscious and glossy, the oil can also act as a natural sunscreen and moisturizer when used on your skin.
The mere fact that the oil could be used for a variety of purposes had us sold from the start. However, the product is not perfect. Its packaging can be improved since it features leakages at times. Once you overlook this flaw, you will be satisfied with the performance of the product.
Nature’s Way Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
This coconut oil has been met with praise from those who used it and when you consider the quality of the product, it is not hard to understand why.
This extra virgin coconut oil is pure from artificial ingredients and claims to be non-GMO. Its claim of being unrefined and gluten-free finds validation through its USDA certification which is bound to increase customer confidence in the product.
Moreover, the product’s composition shows us that 62% of it is made out of MCTs and, hence, the oil is able to deliver its promises of better health to its users. Moreover, it is available in both liquid and solid form and fit for consumption in both conditions.
We found this oil to be a great alternative to butter when flavoring items. However, the 32-ounce size of the jar is too small for prolonged use.
Sky Organics Extra Free Virgin Coconut Oil
This oil takes versatility to a whole new level. Why? This is because it can be used as a supplement, for cooking, for adding flavor to your food, and as a hair color corrector.
The multi-purpose nature of this coconut oil makes it a likely choice of the masses since it allows the product to cater to different niches (skincare and cooking).
According to the manufacturers, the oil offered in this product is extracted with the help of a cold pressing system which allows the oil to retain most of its beneficial properties. Therefore, you can rest assured that you will be provided with pure coconut oil.
Apart from the fact that the product has a very strong coconut smell to it, we find this coconut oil to be an ideal choice for all sorts of uses.
Coconut Sugar – A Healthy Alternative?
Sugar might be your favorite ingredient, but with each passing day, more and more researchers are uncovering harmful effects of using too much sugar in the diet. As a result, a lot of individuals have switched to sweeteners like coconut sugar instead.
This alternative sweetener serves to be a better option than sugar because, unlike the latter, it offers users the chance to benefit from its included nutrients and vitamins, which it is able to retain even after being processed.
Moreover, since coconuts tend to have a low glycemic index, the sugar derived from it is less likely to increase your blood sugar levels. Therefore, switching to coconut sugar is something you should ponder over.
Top Five Recommended Coconut Sugars
Here are some of the brands that offer quality coconut sugars to its customers.
Nutiva Organic Coconut Sugar
This coconut sugar has been a top contender in the US market for over a decade and when you consider the quality and taste of the product, it is not hard to understand why.
Not only does this product feature all the benefits of coconut, but it also does not include harmful components like GM, hydrogenated items or cholesterol. We also liked the light aroma of coconut that prevails in the sugar.
Moreover, since the coconuts are cold-pressed, the sugar is able to retain most of the nutrients present within the fruit and, hence, offer various advantages to the users.
A reasonable price and a quality product, this coconut sugar offers it all.
Wholesome Sweeteners, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
This 16-ounce packet of sugar is full of a caramel flavor that is bound to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This palm sugar is equipped with dried coconut which Is caramelized to give it an enhanced flavor. We found this taste to be one of the distinct features of this product.
Moreover, the sugar does not include any chemicals or bone char and is a suitable choice for vegans as well. Since it is gluten-free in nature, this sugar can be enjoyed by those who suffer from lactose intolerance.
While some might not prefer the caramelized flavor of the sugar, for those of you who do, you might find this coconut sugar a worthy addition to your life.
Madhava Natural Sweet Organic Pure and Unrefined Coconut Sugar
This 4.8-ounce box of coconut sugar might be the perfect solution to those who have a tendency to overconsume sugar.
We loved the packaging of the product and how it included 25 single-serve packets rather than a bag full of sugar. This allows individuals to add an acceptable amount of sugar in their diet, which many are unable to do when given the choice of teaspoons.
Moreover, this sugar does not taste anything like coconut which acts as an added benefit for those who merely want a replacement to traditional sugar without having to give up on its taste.
We appreciated the complete lack of coconut taste in this product. When you compare it to artificial sweeteners, this sugar comes out as the winner in all respects.
Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Coconut Sugar
Gluten-free, vegan-friendly, excellent aftersales support – this product has all the ingredients needed to please customers.
The first thing that we noticed about this product was the satisfaction guarantee that it was equipped with. The 30-day moneyback warranty is unheard of in coconut sugars and this showed the confidence the manufacturers have in their product.
Additionally, the product is processed as less as possible to ensure that users of the sugar are provided with as many of the amino acids and vitamins of a fresh coconut as possible.
The feature that led to this product being on this list is the packaging of the coconut sugar; it can be resealed. This is a source of massive convenience for users and sets this product apart.
Viva Natural Organic Coconut Sugar
Viva is known to produce quality products, and this coconut sugar is yet another addition to this legacy.
While sugar tends to be severely refined which leads to a loss of nutrients, this coconut oil does not undergo such a refinement and is able to offer its users the chance to reap all the advantages the included nutrients can provide them with.
The palm trees which are used to obtain the coconuts are grown in a way which does not require the use of pesticides which, in turn, guarantees that this product is also free from these toxins.
Whether it be the taste or the quality of the sugar, Viva succeeds in delivering the best of the best.
All in all, it is safe to conclude that coconuts are a fruit that you must introduce into your life. It deserves its title of being a superfood and a tree of life. It is hard to find a fruit which offers as much as a coconut does. Make sure you add this grinning monkey into your diet and skincare routine!