Table of Contents
For centuries, coconuts, in particular, coconuts water and milk were used as a remedy for numerous skin disorders, and immune system problems. On the other hand, we might be surprised to find out how important coconuts actually were, and still are, for many cultures and societies.
For instance, coconuts played a significant role in many myths of origin in South and Southeast Asia, for example, in the origin myth from the Maluku Islands. In India, coconuts are plants usually offered to Hindu gods and goddess. For instance, the Hindu goddess of wealth and well-being, Lakshmi, is shown holding a coconut. It is also interesting that people in India often break coconuts before starting any activities to complete them successfully. During prayers, sometimes even 108 coconuts are broken per day
Every part of the coconut plant is used for our benefits. Thus, brooms in India, Philippines and The Maldives are made from stiff mid-ribs of coconut leaves. The leaves are also used to make baskets and roofs, to woven the maths, for cooking skewers and kindling arrows.
Coconuts root is used as a medicine for diarrhea and dysentery. Sometimes it is used as a toothbrush. Husk and shells of the coconut plant are used for fuel, and dried shells are used to make instruments.
This importance of coconut plant is associated with its characteristics and benefits for humans in general; on the other hand, what do we know about coconuts and its health benefits?
What is a Coconut?
Cosmos of Alexandria wrote the earliest description of the coconuts around 545 A.D., in his Topographia Christiana. In the story of Sinbad the Sailor, from One Thousand and One Nights, Sinbad bought and sold coconuts in his fifth voyage. This is one of the first mentions of the coconuts in literature.
Cocos nucifera (nucifera is a Latin word for nut-bearing) or coconut palm is from the palm family Arecaceae and it is not a nut, but a drupe. The origin of this palm is questioned; some suggest that it is Melanesia or the Indian Ocean, while others think that the palms came from South America.
Although the term coconut may refer to coconut palm, seeds and the fruit, coconut is a fruit of the palm tree. These palms can reach more than 100 feet, not only in a tropical and subtropical area but also in domestic and industrial areas. The palm is a un-branched tree that can have a lifetime of about 75 to 100 years and it may take 4 to 5 years, sometimes even longer, to produce the first nuts.
The nuts are oval with a rough outer husk that turn gray when they mature. One tree can produce 20 to 150 mature nuts. The hush is made of fibers, while underneath is a shell that encloses edible kernel (endosperm). What differentiates nuts from other fruits is the sweet water inside them that is a refreshing drink.
Characteristics of Coconuts
The average size of coconut is weighing 400 grams of edible meat and water. These 400 grams provide essential calories, minerals and vitamins. One can find 354 calories in 100 grams of the kernel, that proteins and fats. Moreover, the kernel is full of different bioactive compounds necessary for optimum health.
One of the most important compounds in coconuts is saturated fatty acid, in particular, lauric acid. This compound increases the level of HDH cholesterol that prevents vessel blockades.
Coconut water is particularly beneficial for the human body. Besides being a refreshing drink, it contains minerals, simple sugar and electrolytes, and enzymes such as phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, peroxidase, polymerases, etc. For those who have problems with digestion and metabolism, these enzymes have a significant role.
Due to the kinetin and trans-gelatin that are cytokinins, coconut water shows excellent anti-aging, anti-thrombotic and anti-carcinogenic properties.
On the other hand, coconut kernel is rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and zinc. There are vitamins that our body requires, and one can find it in coconut kernel as well. Rich in niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folates and pyridoxine, kernel is a necessary part of healthy diets.
What Are the Health Benefits of Coconut Plant?
This palm tree surely is a fantastic gift from nature. Every part of this plant, as well as its by-products, can be beneficial for human body and organism.
A first significant benefit of the coconut plant is that it serves as a protector of the immunity system. We all know that once the immunity system is weak, our body is exposed to many illnesses, medical conditions and problems. Whether we consume raw coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut cream or butter, our immune system will be protected.
In traditional medicine, coconuts were used as a remedy for skin infections, colds, coughs, flu, fever, earache, toothache, and upset stomach. Today, coconuts are used to treat those conditions as well; moreover, after many scientific researches, coconuts became a necessary ingredient in many therapies and for many conditions and illnesses.
Given the fact that coconuts have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial activities, the name “Tree of Life” that was given to the palm tree by the Pacific Islanders, surely is appropriate.
Due to impressive content of minerals, vitamins, and acids, coconuts can help treat throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, gonorrhoea, and gum disease and cavities.
As an anti-bacterial remedy, coconuts kill fungi and yeast that cause ringworm, Athlete’s foot, diaper rash, thrush and other similar infections. It also kills tapeworms, lice and other parasites.
Recent studies showed that coconut tree is one of those natural remedies that should be included in treatment and therapies regarding viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, AIDS, SARS, and similar.
It has been proven that coconuts are necessary for healthy teeth and bones. Eating coconuts, or drinking coconut water, help the body to absorb calcium and magnesium, thus it supports the development of strong bones. When the body is lacking calcium and magnesium, bones can easily become thin and fragile, and lose their density, thus, cause osteoporosis.
To prevent that, regular consumption of coconuts water or meat is a possible solution.
You can continue with reading about Coconuts And Its Secrets (Part II) by clicking HERE!
Images credit: 123RF Stock Photo