GO CRAZY FOR CO­CONUTS

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL | SOMETHING EXTRA -

AC­CORD­ING TO Dr Bruce Fife, an in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised ex­pert on co­conuts, one-third of the world’s pop­u­la­tion de­pends on co­conuts, to a sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent, for food. In these so­ci­eties, the co­conut is val­ued as a highly nu­tri­tious food rich in fi­bre, vi­ta­mins, and min­er­als. It is now clas­si­fied as a ‘func­tional food’ as it is found to pro­vide many health ben­e­fits be­yond its ba­sic nu­tri­tional con­tent.

For thou­sands of years, co­conut prod­ucts have been val­ued in lo­cal folk medicine and used to treat a wide va­ri­ety of health prob­lems. Now, mod­ern science con­firms the medic­i­nal use­ful­ness of co­conut.

CO­CONUT OIL

While the co­conut meat is use­ful be­cause of its nu­tri­tional con­tent, the oil makes it a truly re­mark­able medic­i­nal food. Once mis­tak­enly con­demned as un­healthy, the fat in co­conut oil is now known to be uniquely ben­e­fi­cial and dif­fer­ent from most other fats.

Fats and oils are com­posed of mol­e­cules called fatty acids. They are clas­si­fied as short­chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids, or long-chain fatty acids. More than 95 per cent of all the fats in the mod­ern diet con­tain the not-so-healthy longchain fatty acids. Co­conut oil is com­posed mostly of medi­um­chain triglyc­erides (MCT). In fact, co­conut oil and palm oil are the best di­etary sources of MCT.

It is the spe­cial MCT in co­conut oil that makes it so dif­fer­ent from other fats. The MCT in co­conut oil have lower calo­rie con­tent than other fats and are used by the body to pro­duce en­ergy rather than be­ing stored as body fat. MCT also sup­port thy­roid func­tion and pro­mote fat loss by in­creas­ing the meta­bolic rate. They pro­vide a source of quick en­ergy and en­hance phys­i­cal and ath­letic per­for­mance.

CO­CONUT OIL AND BRAIN HEALTH

A host of re­cent re­ports sug­gest that the reg­u­lar con­sump­tion of co­conut oil may im­prove brain health and may ac­tu­ally treat se­ri­ous de­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease of the brain like Alzheimer’s dis­ease. Nor­mally, brain cells get their en­ergy ex­clu­sively from glu­cose (blood sugar), but in Alzheimer’s dis­ease, brain cells have dif­fi­culty ab­sorb­ing glu­cose and die. But brain cells can get en­ergy from an­other source: sub­stances called ke­tones. The body can man­u­fac­ture ke­tones from the MCT in co­conut oil and help to heal the brain.

Re­search from Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity shows that suf­fer­ers from Alzheimer’s dis­ease and de­men­tia have in­deed seen short-term ben­e­fits af­ter reg­u­larly tak­ing co­conut oil. Sci­en­tists are, how­ever, ques­tion­ing how long the ben­e­fits will last and more re­search is now be­ing done. This re­search sup­ports the the­ory that ke­tones pro­duced by the break­down of MCT play an im­por­tant role in brain health and that boost­ing with ke­tones pro­duced from co­conut oil, cog­ni­tive func­tion can im­prove.

There is noth­ing to lose by try­ing this safe and sim­ple rem­edy. Ex­perts sug­gest hav­ing one to two ta­ble­spoons of vir­gin co­conut oil daily for bet­ter brain health.

OTHER BEN­E­FITS OF CO­CONUT

The Co­conut Re­search Cen­ter cites sev­eral re­ports that sug­gest an im­pres­sive list of health ben­e­fits from the co­conut. These in­clude:

Im­prov­ing the ac­tion of in­sulin in the body with bet­ter blood-glu­cose con­trol, thus re­duc­ing the health risks as­so­ci­ated with di­a­betes.

Im­prov­ing the ra­tio be­tween ‘good’ and ‘bad’ choles­terol, re­duc­ing ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis and the risk of

II­heart dis­ease. Act­ing as a nat­u­ral an­tibi­otic, it de­stroys many viruses like in­fluenza, her­pes, measles, hep­ati­tis C, and HIV. It kills var­i­ous bac­te­ria that cause in­fec­tions of the skin, throat, lungs, uri­nary tract, and gums. Co­conut oil also dis­plays ac­tiv­ity against fun­gal in­fec­tions like can­didi­a­sis, ring­worm, and ath­lete’s foot. It ben­e­fits os­teo­poro­sis by im­prov­ing cal­cium and

II­mag­ne­sium ab­sorp­tion, re­duces in­flam­ma­tion, sup­ports tis­sue heal­ing, and aids im­mune sys­tem func­tion.

Co­conut oil is found to im­prove symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with prostate en­large­ment and helps to pre­vent kid­ney and blad­der in­fec­tions and stones.

Co­conut oil is use­ful in skin dis­or­ders like pso­ri­a­sis, eczema, and der­mati­tis. Ap­plied top­i­cally, it soft­ens skin and helps re­lieve dry­ness, flak­ing, wrin­kles, sag­ging skin, age spots, and pro­motes healthy­look­ing hair.

IICOCONUT WATER

Co­conut water is the liq­uid in­side the nut and is dif­fer­ent from co­conut milk, the juice ex­tracted from the co­conut meat. Co­conut water is a unique bev­er­age, with the same elec­trolyte bal­ance as that of hu­man blood. In fact, dur­ing World War II, in the Pa­cific, med­i­cal mil­i­tary per­son­nel reg­u­larly used co­conut water, si­phoned di­rectly from the nut, to give emer­gency trans­fu­sions to wounded sol­diers.

Co­conut water has ad­van­tages over cow’s milk: less fat and no choles­terol. Co­conut water is health­ier than or­ange juice: much less sugar and fewer calo­ries. Co­conut water has more ben­e­fits than some pro­cessed baby feeds: con­tains healthy lau­ric acid, a key nu­tri­ent also present in mother’s milk. Co­conut water is nat­u­rally ster­ile, safe, and free of germs. In a 100ml of co­conut water, there is more potas­sium (al­most 300mg) than most sports and en­ergy drinks (around 120mg). There is less sodium (25mg) than sports drinks (around 40mg) and en­ergy drinks (about 200mg). There is only 5mg of nat­u­ral sug­ars, where sports and en­ergy drinks range from 1025mg of al­tered sug­ars. Co­conut water is best con­sumed fresh as once ex­posed to air, the liq­uid rapidly loses some of its nu­tri­tional ben­e­fits and be­gins to fer­ment. Be­cause of this, bot­tled and canned co­conut water has a short shelf life and re­quires preser­va­tives and re­frig­er­a­tion. So con­sume co­conuts and co­conut oil, drink fresh co­conut water, and en­joy bet­ter health.

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