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Coconuts: A Nut From the "Tree of Life"

coconuts_a_nut_from_the_tree_of_life_imageCoconuts have been a highly regarded fruit for centuries; the coconut is even recorded in Vedas, the oldest Hindu scripture, and is said to nourish the body, increase strength, and promote beautiful hair and skin. Coconuts have also been used in Ayurvedic medicine for nearly 4,000 years as a remedy for skin diseases that are caused by parasites.

Coconuts continue to be popular today, with about 20 billion grown each year. They typically are produced in tropical countries such as the Philippines, India, and Indonesia. The brown, hairy coconuts that we typically see in our grocery stores today are actually the seed of the fruit of the coconut palm tree. These coconut 'seeds' have a dark brown and hard outer shell and inside they are lined with a layer of rich, white meat. The hollow center of the coconut houses a slightly sweet fluid known as coconut water. Like most other nuts, coconuts are rather high in fat, but unlike most other nuts, most all of coconuts' fat is saturated fat. Actually, coconut oil is the most highly saturated of all the vegetable oils, which makes coconut oil very stable.

We now know that coconut oil has medium chain fatty acids that help to boost the immune system. For a long time, coconut oil has been thought to have special healing powers and is an important part of traditional medicines of many of the Pacific Islands and surrounding regions. Interestingly, Thailand, where coconut shows up in nearly every dish, has the lowest rate of cancer of the 50 countries that were surveyed by the National Cancer Institute. These Pacific islands use essentially all parts of the coconut palm tree medicinally—the roots are used for dysentery and other intestinal problems; the bark is used to make a poultice to cure toothaches and earaches; the 'cabbage' portion is used as a diuretic; the flowers are used to treat dysentery, urinary infection, and diabetes; the fibers of the trunk are used as a diuretic and to soothe an inflamed throat; the coconut water is used to treat intestinal worms and urinary disorders; the sap from the tree is used to stimulate peristalsis and acts as a mild laxative; and coconut oil is used externally to help treat a variety of skin conditions. The uses of coconuts are great and have been shown through centuries of use to be effective. coconut_oil_essential_fatty_acids_imageAround the mid 1950's, coconut oil was mistakenly viewed as an unhealthy fat, because of its high saturated fat content. A research study showed that fully hydrogenated fat caused a dramatic increase in cholesterol levels. Later, Harvard scientists disproved the study, explaining that the culprit was not actually the coconut oil, but the fact that it was fully hydrogenated and altered and stripped of its essential fatty acids. And current research shows that any diet deficient in essential fatty acids will cause an increase in cholesterol.

Several studies have demonstrated that natural coconut oil in fact helps to lower high cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the healthy cholesterol, levels. About 50 percent of the fatty acids in coconuts are in the form of a medium chain saturated fat called lauric acid, a healthy fat found in high concentrations in breast milk. Lauric acid in the body is converted into monolaurin, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Coconut oil also has another beneficial medium chain fat called capric acid, which is converted in the body to monocaprin, which also has antiviral properties and might help prevent against sexually-transmitted diseases.

Current research is studying the antiviral properties of coconut as a possible treatment for HIV and AIDS. Coconut oil also helps to protect against heart disease, the number one killer in America. And though high in fat, it actually has scientifically shown not only to not cause one to gain fat, but actually help decrease white fat stores. The medium chain fats of coconuts are easily absorbed and a preferable source of energy, so the burning of them in the body actually helps to increase metabolism. So, as long as calories aren't in excess of the body's needs, coconut oil can actually help with weight loss efforts.

Coconuts are a great source of manganese, molybednum, and copper, as well as selenium and zinc. After purchasing coconuts, store them in a dry, cool area. If buying a whole coconut, once opened, the meat should stay fresh for about seven to ten days when kept refrigerated.Raw Vanilla-Maple MacaroonIngredients:rn
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 3 cups coconut flakes (dried and unsweetened)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (real maple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Get the directions at KristinAnnBeck.blogspot.comCoconut Oil Photo Credit: Phú Thịnh Co via Compfight cc

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