10 Popular Health Benefits of Coconut – Nutrition, Uses, Calories & More

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10 Popular Health Benefits of Coconut - Nutrition, Uses, Calories & More

Well if you’re crazy about chocolates and coconuts alike, possibilities are that you might be smitten with bounty bars. The main ingredient in the creation of those truly luscious bars are coconuts – the yummy filling covered in milk chocolate. While still under the influence of an ongoing debate about the eatable being a fruit, nut or a seed, coconuts are a long ellipsoid or ovoid fruits having a tender, oily and white inside covered with a hard brown shell. A commonly used ingredient, coconuts are used in a variety of dishes all across the world. With over 150 species of this fruit spread across 80 different countries, the hard shell of the coconuts are also used to manufacture furniture and other decorative material.

Fun fact Alert: The name coconut is derived from the Spanish word ‘coco’ which means head or skull due to the three markings on its outer surface that resemble the human face.

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Interesting Facts about Coconuts?

The earliest mention of this fruit is available in the famous collection of Middle Eastern folk tales, ‘One Thousand and One Nights’. A member of the Palm tree family – Arecaceae, coconuts are often referred to as coconut palm, seed or fruit.

With tons of health benefits laden in its edible part, coconuts are often consumed in the form of oil or milk apart from its flesh.

Often found near the ocean, or water bodies, coconut palms grow on sandy soil where it gets an abundant amount of sunlight and rain.

Benefits and Uses of Coconuts

A good source of fibre, Vitamin C and other important minerals, this fruit has a lot of health benefits like:

1. Fights Skin Dryness

A natural cleanser and moisturiser, coconut is helpful in curing dry, chapped, rough or flaky skin. Having a neutralising effect on the toxins, dirt bacteria and fungi that develop on the outer layers of the skin, coconut works as a great home remedy to repair the damaged skin. According to a study about ‘Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis’ coconut oil was found to be useful in the treatment of Atopic dermatitis a.k.a. Eczema – An itchy inflammation of the skin.

How to Use: If your skin feels super dry even after moisturising it, replace your daily moisturiser with coconut oil. Laden with natural hydrating qualities, coconut oil keeps your skin moisturised throughout the day and acts as an exfoliator if applied during the night before going to bed. It is often said that in the night while we’re having a good night’s sleep, the skin revives and seals the moisture, thus hydrating the skin.

2. Gives a tan-free skin

Efficient in removing any kind of tan and dirt from your skin, coconut is said to reverse the effects of sun tan. According to the journal of Pharmacognosy Review’s ‘Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation’, researchers have found that “some plant oils contain natural sunscreens. For example, sesame oil resists 30% of UV rays, whereas coconut, peanut, olive, and cottonseed oils block out about 20%.”

How to Use: Mix Coconut Water with Fullers Earth and apply it over the affected area. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wash away with cold water. Apply this face pack twice a week to achieve the desired results.

3. Prevents Scalp Irritation

Possessing antifungal and antibacterial properties, the use of coconut also helps in preventing scalp from irritation. According to the study Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage, it was noted that ‘Coconut Oil, has strong impact on hair health. Being a triglyceride of lauric acid (principal fatty acid), coconut Oil has a high affinity for hair proteins and, because of its low molecular weight and straight linear chain, is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.’

How to Use: Use coconut oil to massage your scalp 2-3 hours before washing your hair. This will ensure that the coconut oil seeps deep into the roots of your hair and provide protection from scalp irritation and dandruff or dead skin.

4. Provides shiny hair and ensures hair health

Rich in Vitamin K, coconut oil is also said to maintain the health of your hair and add shine to it. According to an abstract ‘Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage’, coconut oil treatment helped prevent combing damage for various types of hair (both undamaged and damaged when used as a pre-wash and post-wash grooming product.)

How to Use: Coconut Oil if applied after hair wash, works well to nourish your hair. If applied pre-wash, coconut oil nourishes your hair along with ensuring that the nutrients reach the roots evenly. For added benefits and getting shiny hair, double-boil some curry leaves in coconut oil. When the leaves turn pale green, remove the mix from heat and let it cool down. Apply on the roots of your hair as well as to the lengths to get naturally shiny hair.

5. Healthy bones and teeth

Consuming coconuts regularly ensures that you have healthy bones and teeth. A healthy alternative for calcium and manganese intake for those who are lactose intolerant, coconuts aid in bone development and strengthen the teeth. According to researchers at the Athlone Institute of Technology, Ireland coconut oil acts as an antibiotic when digested and helps destroy the bacteria that cause tooth to decay.

How to Use: You can consume coconut flesh daily or substitute your edible oil with coconut oil to avail the desired benefits.

6. Improving blood cholesterol

According to Journal of Nutrition Reviews, coconut oil was seen to raise the total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to a greater extent than trans-fatty unsaturated plant oils, but to an extent (lesser than butter) thus leading to an improved blood cholesterol level and lowering the risk of heart diseases.

 7.Keeps you hydrated

Being a fruit that is loaded with nutrition, coconut when cracked, oozes out the coconut water. A good source of gaining back the lost electrolytes and a healthy alternative to the plain water, coconut water helps keep you hydrated throughout the day along with supplying necessary nutrients to your body.

How to Use: Drink one glass of Coconut water every day and stay active throughout.

8. Controls Diabetes

Coconut being rich in fibres, is mostly a good option for those who are at a risk of developing heart diseases or are diabetic. Researches state that coconut flour, a by-product of coconuts, rich in dietary fibre helps reduce the risk of heart diseases. Being low in carbohydrates, coconut flour is one of the best alternatives to wheat and corn flour that can be consumed by people who suffer from diabetes.

9. Help in anti-aging

Possessing Cytokinins (substances that promote cell division), trans-zeatin (regulate cell division, development, and nutrient processing) and kinetin (compounds that stimulate plants to growth), Coconuts have an anti-aging effect on the body. Effective in shielding the skin from sun-damage, skin diseases and infections like acne outbreaks, Coconut oil acts as a natural moisturiser that soothes the skin due to its mild properties.

10. Boosts Immunity

Being an energy-rich source that supplies the body with essential minerals, electrolytes and vitamins, Coconut helps in boosting the immunity of the body. Protecting the overall health of the human body, coconuts can help the body build resistance towards viruses and bacteria that cause illness.

Also Read: Water Chestnuts BenefitsBenefits Of Pears

Nutritional Value of Coconuts

Servings Nutrient value %DV
Energy 354 Kcal 0.18
Carbohydrates 15.23 g 0.12
Protein 3.3 g 0.06
Cholesterol 0 mg 0
Dietary Fibre 9 g 0.24
Vitamin C 3.3 mg 0.055
Vitamin A 0 IU 0
Vitamin E 0.24 mg 0.02
Vitamin K 0.2 µg <1%
Potassium 356 mg 0.075
Calcium 14 mg 0.014
Iron 2.43 mg 0.3
Magnesium 32 mg 0.08
Phosphorus 113 mg 0.16
Phytosterols 47 mg
Also Read: Grapefruit NutritionJackfruit Nutrition

Risks or Precautions when consuming Coconuts

Allergies: Consuming coconut in any form may aggravate any allergies if you’re allergic to coconuts or other members of Arecaceae Plant Family.

High Cholesterol levels: Coconuts if consumed in larger quantities may cause the cholesterol levels to increase.

Weight gain: If consumed in high quantities, coconuts may lead to weight gain instead of a weight loss because of the high amount of calories present in it.

How to Consume Coconuts

To choose the best fresh coconut, check out the following important pointers:

Shake the coconut: A coconut that has a lot of coconut water inside it is one of the best picks. When shook, if a coconut does not make a sloshing sound, do not buy it.

If a coconut’s heavier, it’s merrier: When you’re not sure which coconut to choose, always opt for the one that feels heavier.

You can consume coconut in the following ways:

Raw coconut: Break the coconut as usual and drain the water. Crack open the hard brown shell and scrape off the edible white flesh. Enjoy!

Coconut Water: Store the water that you collected by breaking the coconut. Sieve if any brown hard shell particles floating in. Chill and drink!

Coconut Milk: Break open a coconut, scrape of the edible part and put it in a mixer. Blend the coconut till it forms a puree. Take a fine sieve or a cotton cloth. Drain the blended mixture on the sieve or cloth, into a container. Press the leftover part in order to extract all the coconut milk. Chill and Enjoy.

Coconut Oil: Replace your regular edible oil with virgin coconut oil and reap its benefits.

Fun Facts about Coconut

  • Coconut trees can be dwarf and tall. The dwarf trees can reach a height of 20 to max 60 ft, while the tallest can grow up to height of 98 ft.
  • Coconut trees have fibrous roots and can survive up to 100 years in the wild. Woah!
  • Falling coconuts can kill approx. 150 people every year i.e. 10 times the number of people that are killed by sharks.
  • In the time of the Pacific War of 1941-45, coconut water was extensively used to give emergency plasma transfusions to the wounded soldiers.
  • Do you know coconuts are used to make coconut vodka an alcoholic beverage made from the sap extracted from the closed flower.
  • Coconut oil can be used to substitute diesel fuel. While its husk and shells can act as a substitute for charcoal.

Conclusion

A fruit often used as an ingredient to enhance the flavour of various dishes, Coconuts are laden with so many benefits. If used in a proper quantity, they can work wonders. Always consult a nutritionist on how should you incorporate coconut into your daily diet.


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