By Aminat Umar
Coconut benefits us in many significant ways, other than just adding its rich creamy flavor to your dishes! Whether its coconut water, coconut oil, coconut shell in handicrafts, or the coconut husk, each part of this divine fruit has its own benefits to offer! Coconut is one such fruit that not only helps enrich your diet with essential nutrients, but also works for your skin, hair, and overall beauty and health! Just the practice of oiling your hair or oil rinsing your mouth every day, is enough to boost your mental and physical health! Read on to know more about coconut benefits and how you can make the most of this super fruit!
WHAT IS IT?
It is a tropical fruit with a hard brown hairy outer shell and tender white edible flesh.
What are Its Benefits?
It may improve skin hydration, reduce inflammation, improve heart health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and boost the immune system.
WHO CAN USE IT?
It can be used by most people for cooking, skin and hair care, and other health remedies.
400 gms of coconut pieces or 2-3 glasses of coconut water is recommended.
Consuming large amounts of coconut or coconut products may cause gastrointestinal discomfort and allergic reactions with symptoms like rashes and breathing issues.
Health Benefits Of Coconut
Skin Benefits Of Coconut
Hair Benefits Of Coconut
Coconut Nutritional Value
Side Effects Of Coconut
Coconut is a fruit which belongs to the Cocos nucifera palm. This mature nut is one of the most used ingredients in the kitchens of India. Hundreds of coconut species are found all over India and its taste varies according to its soil alkalinity. Its outer part is green in color which turns brown as it matures. Underneath the hard shell is the white edible meat. Coconut is also known as ‘Nariyal’ in Hindi, ‘Kobbari Bondam’ in Telugu, ‘Tenkay’ in Tamil, ‘Thenga’ in Malayalam, ‘Thengina Kai’ in Kannada, and ‘Narikelera’ in Bengali. Wondering how to eat coconut? The freshly harvested coconut contains sweet water which is extremely beneficial for health. Coconut is a healthy nut that can be used safely as a food. It is mainly reaction free. The kernel is not only healthy but is also safe to be eaten during pregnancy.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCONUT
Coconut contains a high amount of saturated fats but these are harmless. They contain Medium Chain Triglycerides which are fatty acids of medium length. These fatty acids are absorbed differently by the body. They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract and are further turned into ketone bodies. This can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. Coconut health benefits include the following:
1. FIBER CONTENT
Coconut is high in dietary fiber and provides a whopping 61% of fiber. Coconut fiber slows down the release of glucose and transports it to the cell where it is converted into energy. It assists in relieving stress on the pancreas and enzyme systems which reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
2. CONTROLS DIABETES
Coconut improves the insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose. It controls diabetes by positively affecting the hormones for blood sugar control. This slows down the rise in blood sugar level and helps to reduce glycemic cravings. Coconut benefits quick digestion and other symptoms associated with digestive and bowel disorders. It supports absorption of nutrients and minerals while providing dietary fiber. It also reduces vomiting and nausea.
Cytokinins, kinetin, and trans-zeatin present in coconut have anti thrombotici , anti-carcinogenic and anti-aging effects on the body.
4. BOOSTS IMMUNITY
Coconut nutrition is excellent for the immunity system. It is antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic. Intake of coconut oil can help the body to mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria that cause illness. That said, can you eat raw coconut? Consuming coconut in its raw form can help to treat some of the worst and most resilient illnesses like throat infections, bronchitis, urinary tract infection, tapeworms and other ailments caused by microbes.
5. TREATS ABDOMINAL FAT
Coconut is also beneficial in treating dangerous fats in the abdominal cavity. Abdominal fats are the most dangerous of all fats and are associated with various diseases. A 200 grams of coconut serving daily can lead to a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference in just 12 weeks.
Jesse Feder, Registered Dietitian at the Memorial Regional Hospital South, says, “Research is very limited and inconsistent in regard to coconut and belly fat reduction. However, coconut does contain a healthy amount of fiber and MCT, which can help curb your appetite and lead you to consume fewer calories during the day. This can help you lose weight and consequently, belly fat. Although, I personally would not rely too heavily on coconut to reduce belly fat. It’s best to have a well-balanced diet and do daily exercise to achieve this.”
6. IMPROVES OVERALL HEALTH
Research has proven that people who consume coconut daily are healthier when compared to those who don’t. In some countries, it is a dietary fiber that people have thrived on for many generations.
Coconut oil has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for nearly 4000 years. An Ayurvedic text dated around 1500 BC documents the use of coconut oil for the body, spirit, and mind because of its health benefits.
7. BOOSTS ENERGY
Coconut helps to increase energy by improving metabolism and burning fat. You can opt for coconut for weight loss support. The triglycerides found in coconut oil increase 24 hours of energy expenditure by 5% leading to weight loss in the long run. It is also known to reduce hunger pangs. This is directly related to the way fatty acids in the body are metabolized as ketones, which have an appetite-reducing effect. People who consistently use coconut products have a stronger ability to go without eating for several hours with no effects of hypoglycemia. It also promotes healthy thyroid function and helps to relieve the symptom of chronic fatigue. However, the effectiveness of eating raw coconut for weight loss is yet to be studied.
8. TREATS EPILEPSY
A ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet that is used to treat various disorders. Its best-known application is treating epilepsy in children. The diet involves eating little carbs and large amounts of fat which can lead to increased concentrations of ketone bodies in the blood. This diet can dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children.
9. FIGHTS CANCER
Coconut nutrition has also proven to have anti-cancer properties. It is especially beneficial to treat colon and breast cancer.
10. KEEPS YOU HYDRATED
Coconut water for hydration Save
Coconut water contains crucial electrolytes that help in maintaining hydration. People involved in easy workouts and other strenuous activities should include as much coconut water as they can in their diet. Coconut water replaces the lost electrolytes, provides hydration and increases immune response. It is a better alternative to water as it is tastier than plain water and is loaded with nutrition.
Coconut has long been known for its diuretic effects. Intake of coconut water may also increase the levels of urinary potassium, chloride, and citrate (1). Drinking coconut water may possibly help get rid of the extra water and salts present in the body.
11. NUTRITIOUS AND HEALTHY
Coconut water is considered to be more nutritious and healthier than whole milk. It contains lauric acid which is considered equivalent to mother’s milk. It is naturally sterile as it permeates through the filtering husk. It also helps with hangovers. Coconut water has a natural isotonic beverage in the same level as that in the blood.
12. PREVENTS URINARY TRACT INFECTION
The natural diuretic property of coconut treats urinary tract infections. It improves the flow of urine to get rid of the infection naturally.
13. IMPROVES BLOOD CHOLESTEROL
Coconut helps to improve blood cholesterol levels in the body and lowers the risk of heart diseases. The saturated fats in coconut raise the good cholesterol in the body and control the LDL to a benign subtype. This improvement in cardiovascular risk factors theoretically leads to reducing the risk of developing heart diseases.
14. CONTROLS ACIDITY AND HEARTBURN
Coconut water can also help to alleviate acidity and heartburn problems.
15. EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL DURING PREGNANCY
Coconut water is sterile and is very good for pregnant ladies. It improves the immunity and health of the mother and baby and prevents infection and other diseases. It also boosts the levels of amniotic fluid to improve the overall health of the fetus.
16. FIGHTS BACTERIA
Coconut contains high content of monolaurin and lauric acid which helps to kill bacteria, viruses and fungi and keeps infections at bay.
17. GOOD FOR ORAL HYGIENE
Coconut water can also be used as an out rinse to kill mouth bacteria, reduce bad breath and improve the overall dental health.
18. HEALTHY BONES AND TEETH
Eating coconuts regularly supports the development of healthy bones and teeth. It improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium and manganese which aid bone development. It also prevents osteoporosis, a condition that makes the bones thin and fragile and loses its density. Thus it is a healthy alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
Skin Benefits Of Coconut
Coconut is often used in the form of oil in the cosmetic industry to improve the health and appearance of the skin and hair.
19. FIGHTS DRYNESS
Coconut oil, if used on skin prevents dryness and flakiness and keeps it moisturized and supple. It also supports the skin and works to repair the damage it has acquired over time. It eases a common skin condition called neurosis, which is characterized by dry, rough, and flaky skin. It also reduces the severity of atopic dermatitis which is prone to infections like Staphylococcus aureusi .
The use of coconut cleanses and neutralizes the toxins, fungi and bacteria on the outer layers of the skin which not only detoxifies but also builds the skin’s natural immune system and protection.
20. EFFECTIVE ON DRY HANDS
Extra virgin coconut oil can also be used to treat dry and parched hands. Regular dishwashing often dries out the skin and makes them unsightly. Instead of using expensive chemical-laden cosmetics, apply virgin coconut oil on the hands to get beautiful and smooth hands. Even to treat cracked and brittle nails, coconut oil is used for its moisturizing properties.
21. PREVENTS SKIN CANCER
It improves the moisture and lipid content in the skin and prevents skin cancer by blocking 20% of harsh Ultra Violet rays. It can be used as a body and skin moisturizer as it hydrates the skin by replenishing the natural oils. Coconut oil can also be used to clean the face by rubbing it in circular motions.
22. MAY KEEP THE SKIN YOUTHFUL
Coconut oil is excellent for keeping the skin young and beautiful. Its antioxidant property slows down the aging process by protecting the body from harmful free radicals. Massaging a few drops of coconut oil daily will keep it healthy and smooth. Apply it onto the skin before showering. This will open the pores while showering and will allow the oil to absorb through the skin more efficiently.
23. CLEANS THE SKIN
Eating coconut hydrates the skin and makes it youthful and supple. Take a teaspoon of raw, uncooked coconut oil and massage the skin with it. This will minimize the outbreaks of skin, rashes and irritations and will beautify the skin from inside when taken internally.
24. PROMOTES BLOOD CIRCULATION
Eating coconut regularly boosts oxygen in the skin and promotes blood circulation. Our cells need an adequate amount of oxygen which can only be made possible by proper circulation in the body that carries oxygen. This allows proper breathing of the skin and promotes healthy and flawless complexion.
25. REVERSES EFFECTS OF TANNING
Coconut water can also help to reverse tanning. Mix Fuller’s earth with coconut water and apply it all over the skin. Leave it for 20 minutes and then wash it off with cold water. Apply this face pack twice weekly to get tan-free skin.
26. TREATS OILY SKIN
Coconut water can also be used to treat oily skin. It washes away excess oil from the skin and keeps the skin tone more even. Coconut water is also very effective on acne, black spots and blemishes. Make a face pack by mixing half a teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of sandalwood powder and coconut water. Apply it on the face thrice weekly to get clear and glowing skin.
27. REMOVES EYE MAKEUP
Coconut oil can also be used to remove eye makeup. Put a few drops of coconut oil on a cotton ball and wipe your eyes with it. It effectively removes the tough eye makeup by breaking down the ingredients in the eye makeup. It keeps the skin hydrated too.
28. BODY SCRUB
Coconut can also be used as a body scrub. Mix some coconut oil and a cup of brown sugar and stir well. Finally, scrape some coconut shell, add a few drops of essential oil and mix it. Your scrub is ready to use. You can also mix 1 tablespoon of coconut water and lentils to make a paste. Rub it gently on the face for 2 minutes and then wash off.
British explorer Captain James Cook and his band of sailors reached the Polynesian Islands during the late 1700s. They were surprised at the healthy and beautiful skin and hair of the Polynesian people, which were attributed to coconut oil.
HAIR BENEFITS OF COCONUT
Coconut for hair helps to treat hair loss problems. Both coconut water and coconut oil can help to treat hair fall. Massage your hair with coconut water or coconut oil prior to bathing to manage unruly hair and prevent hair breakage. This will also make the hair soft, smooth and manageable.
29. PREVENTS SCALP INFECTIONS
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut protect the scalp from dandruff, lice and itchy scalp which often slows down the hair growth.
30. HELPS MAINTAIN HEALTHY HAIR
Coconut can also help you to get shiny and silky hair.
The Vitamin K and iron content in coconut maintain the health of the hair and impart shine to it.
Coconut Nutritional Value
Coconut and coconut milk Save
PRINCIPLE NUTRIENT VALUE PERCENTAGE OF RDA
Energy 354 Kcal 18%
Carbohydrates 15.23 g 12%
Protein 3.3 g 6%
Total Fat 33.49 g 167%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 9 g 24%
Folates 26 µg 6.5%
Niacin 0.540 mg 3%
Pantothenic acid 0.300 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.054 mg 4%
Riboflavin 0.020 mg 1.5%
Thiamin 0.066 mg 5.5%
Vitamin C 3.3 mg 5.5%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin E 0.24 mg 2%
Vitamin K 0.2 µg
Sodium 20 mg 1%
Potassium 356 mg 7.5%
Calcium 14 mg 1.4%
Copper 0.435 mg 48%
Iron 2.43 mg 30%
Magnesium 32 mg 8%
Manganese 1.500 mg 65%
Phosphorus 113 mg 16%
Selenium 10.1 µg 18%
Zinc 1.10 mg 10%
Carotene, beta 0 µg —
Phytosterols 47 mg —
These coconut nutrition facts give you an insight into how healthy it is. Coconut is rich in calories, vitamins and plenty of minerals. An average 400 grams of coconut flesh provides almost all the vitamins and minerals required by the body for a day. 100 grams of coconut kernels contain around 350 calories. Wondering how many calories in a coconut? There are 350 calories in coconut kernels weighing 100 grams. It contains high saturated acids like lauric acid and bioactive compounds that are essential for better health. The kernel is an excellent source of copper, calcium, manganese, magnesium and zinc. It is also a good source of folates, niacin, thiamine and pyridoxine. The fruit is also a good source of potassium.
Coconut water is very refreshing and contains simple sugars, electrolytes, minerals, acid phosphatase, catalase, dehydrogenase, peroxidase and polymerases. Not just the water, its oil is also classified as a superfood. Its unique combination of fatty acids can have profound effects on your health.
However, note that anything in excess can be detrimental to your health. Check out the next section to learn about the downsides to consuming excess coconut.
SIDE EFFECTS OF COCONUT
Overconsumption of coconut may cause some health issues, like:
It may cause weight gain as coconut is a high-calorie food.
It is high in saturated fats and excess consumption may cause a rise in cholesterol levels.
Coconut sap contains fructose, glucose, and sucrose at 3.48%, 2.53%, and 6.91%, respectively (2). The high sugar content may affect blood glucose levels if consumed in excess.
It may cause allergic reactions like itching and rashes in people allergic to tree nuts.
Therefore, it is best to consume it in moderation and also consult your doctor before including coconut in your daily routine. Your doctor will help you determine the recommended quantity of coconut you can consume based on your existing health conditions.
INFOGRAPHIC: Interesting Facts About Coconut
Each part of the coconut tree, from the roots to the husk, has its own uses and benefits. Coconut offers many medicinal properties that help treat several ailments. It is popular for its potential health benefits and culinary applications and is available in more than 150 varieties around the globe. Click on the infographic below to learn some interesting facts about coconut.