A Little Extra Food for Thought…
Coconuts originated in South East Asia and on the islands of Melanesia in the Pacific Ocean.
The fruit of the coconut consists of a green or yellowish- brown husk inside which the coconut itself is found. The fibrous husk is waterproof and the protection it gives the nut has resulted in the seeds floating around the world to establish palms on most tropical beaches. The nut itself has a hard outer shell with a kernel inside. In the young ‘green’ coconuts, the kernel is soft and jelly-like and the central cavity is filled with coconut water (juice). As the coconut matures the kernel becomes harder and the amount of water decreases.
Every morning our local distribution center will load our products into refrigerated trucks where temperature is controlled to maintain quality and freshness at optimal level.
The coconut is one of the most prized fruits of the tropics and its use cuts across all ethnic groups. Its many parts are widely used for craft purposes, also for clothing and housing. The edible parts are the water and flesh.
The value of coconut water as a thirst-quenching drink requiring no purification or processing is universal. However its health-giving properties are not widely known and are often misunderstood.
Pure coconut water has virtually no fat, a little protein (5%) and provides carbohydrates in the form of sugar, which is responsible for its mildly sweet taste. At only 50 calories per glass, it could be considered a low calorie drink compared to fresh orange juice, which has 110 calories per 250ml (8-ounce) glass. The fresh nut contains about 50% water and about 30 to 40% oil.
Coconut water is often label as being high in sodium and avoided by hypertensives for fear that it will raise their blood pressure. This is a wrong belief since a glass of this drink has only about 60mg of sodium, which is as much as the amount obtainable from large carrot or an unsalted egg. The coconut water is also one of the richest sources of potassium, a mineral believed to help lower blood pressure. In fact in studies done on animals at the University of the West Indies, coconut water was found to contain another substance which helps to lower blood pressure. The results of these studies, however, need to be verified by tests carried out on humans.
- Good for feeding infants suffering from intestinal disturbances.
- Oral rehydration medium
- Contains organic compounds possessing growth promoting properties
- Keeps the body cool
- Application on the body prevents prickly heat and summer boils and subside rashes caused by small pox, chicken pox, measles, etc.
- Kills intestinal worms
- Presence of saline and albumen makes it a good drink in cholera cases
- Checks urinary infections
- Excellent tonic for the old and sick
- Cures malnourishment
- Effective in the treatment of kidney and urethral stones
- Can be injected intravenously in emergency case.
- Found as blood plasma substitute because it is sterile, does not produce heat, does not destroy red blood cells and is readily accepted by the body.
- Aids the quick absorption of the drugs and makes their peak concentration in the blood easier by its electrolytic effect.
- Urinary antiseptic and eliminates poisons in case of mineral poisoning.
Coconut milk is a common ingredient in many tropical cuisines, such as Burmese, Cambodian, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Thai and Vietnamese, as well as Brazilian, Caribbean, Polynesian, and Pacific islands cuisines.
Coconut milk has a long-standing cultural association with health in the Ayurveda tradition. This natural drink is usually recommended for maintaining electrolyte balance and can also be used in case of dehydration. Some recent studies have suggested that coconut milk has hyperlipidemic balancing qualities, antimicrobial properties in the gastrointestinal tract or by topical application, and it has been used as a home remedy for healing mouth ulcers. In a study with rats, two coconut based preparations (a crude warm water extract of coconut milk and a coconut water dispersion) were studied for their protective effects on drug-induced gastric ulceration. Both substances offered protection against ulceration, with coconut milk producing a 54% reduction vs. 39% for coconut water. In addition, the saturated fat in coconut milk is mostly lauric acid, which was found to have positive effects on the cardiovascular system.
The United States Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, International College of Nutrition, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, British National Health Service, and Dietitians of Canada recommend against the consumption of significant amounts of coconut oil due to its high levels of saturated fat. Advocacy against coconut and palm oils in the 1970s and 80s due to their perceived danger as a saturated fat caused companies to instead substitute trans fats, unaware of their health-damaging effects.
Coconut oil contains a large proportion of lauric acid, a saturated fat that raises blood cholesterol levels by increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol that is also found in significant amounts in breast milk and sebaceous gland secretions. This may create a more favourable blood cholesterol profile, though it is unclear if coconut oil may promote atherosclerosis through other pathways. Because much of the saturated fat of coconut oil is in the form of lauric acid, coconut oil may be a better alternative to partially hydrogenated vegetable oil when solid fats are required.
In addition, virgin coconut oil is composed mainly of medium-chain triglycerides, which may not carry the same risks as other saturated fats. Early studies on the health effects of coconut oil used partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which creates trans fats, and not virgin coconut oil, which has a different health risk profile.
Coconut oil is commonly used in cooking, especially for frying and is a common flavor in many South Asian curries. In recent years, virgin coconut oil has increasingly become popular in natural food circles and with vegans. It was described in a New York Times article as having a "haunting, nutty, vanilla flavor" that also has a touch of sweetness that works well in baked goods, pastries, and sautés. Coconut oil is used by movie theatre chains to pop popcorn, adding a large amount of saturated fat in the process. Coconut oil contains a large proportion of lauric acid, which is converted to monolaurin in the body, a fat found otherwise only in human breast milk. It is also often used in infant formula.
Because it is a vegetable oil, coconut oil has no cholesterol and has the same amount of fat as all other vegetable oils such as corn, soya, olive and sunflower. The difference between coconut oil and these oils is in the type of fat it contains. Coconut oil is rich in saturated fat as opposed to unsaturated fats in the other vegetable oils, except for palm oil.
While saturated fat in general has been found to raise cholesterol levels in the blood, this is not the case with the saturated fat in coconut oil. In fact the unique structure of the fat in coconut oil is more easily digested than the other oils which have fats of long chain length. It also leaves fewer residues, which can have toxic effects and increase risk of cancer. Moreover, oils are generally treated with hydrogen in manufacturing certain products. When long chain fatty acids are hydrogenated, e.g., Soya bean oil, they become like animal fat and tend to raise cholesterol levels. In contrast, coconut oil remains unchanged when hydrogenated.
Coconut fat, as part of the total intake, along with a well-balanced diet, will not have adverse effects. Adults, who need to reduce their fat intake, should decrease the amount of fat they consume from all sources. Merely switching from coconut oil to corn oil or soya oil will not be to their advantage.