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Powerfoods: Coconut

Coconut

The coconut is botanically referred to as the ‘Cocos nucifera’. It is a member of the Arecaceae or palm family. Coconuts are thought to have originated in the Pacific. Now, this plant is grown throughout the USA, the Pacific, Africa and Asia. Despite its name, coconut is not a nut. Technically, it falls into a variety called “drupes”. The coconut is in good company with coffee, almonds, plums and olives all fitting into this category.

  • Coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals like calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age
  • Helps prevent obesity by speeding up metabolism, providing an immediate source of energy with fewer calories than other fats
  • Coconut oil helps prevent kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones
  • It is even used as a moisturiser for the body due to its antioxidant, moisturising and cooling properties
  • Its flesh and milk have great levels of potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc – important nutrients for energy levels, healthy immune function and the maintenance of good fluid balance in the body
  • Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilisation of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes
  • Has reasonable levels of antioxidants such as selenium and vitamin C – to help mop up free radicals created in your body through poor diet, stress and pollution
  • Research has shown that coconut oil protects heart function and cardiac tissue. However, only the unprocessed type or virgin coconut oil has this effect
  • Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis
  • Coconut supplies an impressive 61% dietary fibre!
  • Coconut oil strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties
  • People who consistently use coconut products, report a stronger ability to go without eating for several hours with no affects of hypoglycemia
  • Contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure

Note

One of the legendary tales about coconut water is that it can be used as an alternative to medical saline for blood transfusions since its chemical profile is so similar to blood plasma. In extreme cases this is true but it lacks the glucose to be a true alternative.

 

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