Coconuts are a way of life for millions of people in tropical climates around the world today. Known as the “tree of life”, the wonderful fruit of the coconut palm is rich in specific fats that have incredible health benefits. Traditional tropical populations that consume a lot of coconut oil are seldom overweight, and traditionally have been free from the modern diseases that afflict most western cultures.
The tropical fruit, the coconut, is well known for its nutritional benefits. Its meat, juice and oil are popular all over the world due to its delicious taste and abundance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Coconut was used by primitive people to treat a number of ailments, and is still recognized today for its nutritious and healing properties. On many islands coconut is a staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world’s population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is classified as a “functional food” because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. The meat of the coconut is very good in destroying intestinal parasites that we get from eating infected food. It contains lauric acid, which helps fight bacteria from intestinal parasites and wards off countless infections ranging from HIV to the common cold. Eating coconut helps fight gas, constipation, ulcers and other digestive and stomach ailments. Coconut also supports thyroid function and can prevent goiter (an enlarged thyroid) because it naturally contains iodine. Coconut has even been shown to protect the body from cancer and osteoporosis, dissolve kidney stones, reduce epileptic seizures, and reduce symptoms associated with pancreatic disorders.
One of the main health benefits of coconut meat is dietary fiber. Since fiber aids in the process of digestion, diets that incorporate some coconut can help with proper bowel movements as well as lower your risk of digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).
Dietary fiber doesn’t only benefit your digestive tract; it may also help improve your cholesterol by lowering the level of low-density lipoprotein in your bloodstream. When LDL is kept with a healthy range, you lower your risk of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) and cardiovascular disease as well as suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Coconut meat also contains folate. More commonly known as folic acid, this B vitamin is considered to have antioxidant qualities that can aid in the prevention of heart disease. Diets that are deficient in this vitamin increase the risk of heart disease, heart failure and stroke.
Coconut is also rich in protein. Because of its high calorie and fat content, coconut is a healthy food to consume for those who are trying to gain weight due to emaciation and for body builders who need high-protein foods to help build muscles. Coconut provides quick and lasting boosts of energy. It also benefits the outward appearance of the body in a number of ways, including softening the skin, reducing the appearances of wrinkles and fine lines, controlling dandruff and keeping the scalp and hair healthy.
A one cup serving of shredded coconut contains:
Coconut is an excellent source of manganese and contains 60 percent of the recommended daily intake of that mineral. It also contains 11 percent of the recommended intake for iron, 9 percent of phosphorus and 8percent of potassium. There are trace amounts of other nutrients in coconut, including zinc, calcium, and magnesium and Omega 3.