All the goodness in a nutshell

A coconut is the only nut whose each and every part offers some health benefit or the other. It is one of nature's best gifts to us

A coconut can be used in various forms in our diet. The most commonly used form is grated or tender coconut. Here are some health benefits of coconut.

The whole benefits

Cocounut

  • Coconut flesh is high in fibre and therefore helps in reducing constipation and other gastro-intestinal problems.
  • It is a rich source of simple sugar and calories, which aids in weight gain and, therefore, used for muscle building in thin and emaciated people.
  • It is also high in vitamins and minerals, which is essential for healthy growth in children.
  • It helps the absorption of calcium and magnesium and, in turn, makes bones strong.
  • It also adds volume to vegetables, when grated and used, and imparts its own oils while cooking, giving a unique flavour.

Medicinal milk

This is made by blending scrapped coconut with water or milk and then sieving it through a muslin cloth. It is a rich white colour liquid and has a sweet flavour. The richness and the sweetness come from the oils and sugar present in the coconut.

According to ayurveda, coconut milk has very high medicinal properties. It is a good laxative and helps heal mouth ulcers. The quantity varies from individual to individual and, therefore, one needs to consult a doctor/dietician to prescribe the correct dosage.

Healing oil

  • Coconut oil is used commonly in cooking in southern India. It is a rich source of medium chain triglycerides [MCT].
  • It improves the skin complexion and hair texture.
  • Itl has a beneficial effect in ketogenic diets and is helpful during epilepsy [neurological disorder].
  • It helps in treating skin problems like eczema, burns and wounds.

Magic powder

Desiccated coconut is made by mechanically air drying the scrapped fresh coconut. The best advantage of dried coconut is its shelf life. It is easy-to-carry and store and is commonly used to make cakes, chocolates and sweets.

Wholesome water

woman drinking coconut water

  • Coconut water is a natural diuretic, which is used to flush out kidney stones.
  • It helps to maintain the body temperature due to its cooling properties.
  • It also helps in clearing urinary tract infections [UTI], stomach disorders, and in some cases has shown beneficial effects in reducing intestinal worms.
  • It helps maintain electrolyte balance and is therefore very good during pre-menstrual period, dehydration, physical activities and post surgeries.
  • It prevents prickly heat and summer boils and soothes rashes caused by small pox, chicken pox, and measles.
  • The presence of saline and
    albumen makes it a good drink
    during cholera.
  • It is an excellent tonic for the old and sick.

Storage advice

Store whole fresh coconut in the refrigerator and try and use it within a week's time.

Shredded fresh coconut needs to be stored in an airtight container to retain the moisture and needs to be used within 24 hours.

Desiccated coconut, is dehydrated and hence can be stored for a month in a cool dry place.

Coconut milk should be used immediately, whereas coconut water can be consumed within 12 hours of opening [provided it is stored immediately in the refrigerator].

For your info

The benefits and effects of coconut on our body are constantly being researched. Many studies have found that coconut is high in saturated fat; a type of fat called MCT. Hence, excessive intake of coconut could increase your bad cholesterol, warn researchers.

In some individuals, coconut may also trigger allergy. It reacts the same way as other nuts and individuals allergic to it may develop hives, swelling of lips and eyes, and have stomach problems.

On the other hand, the benefits of coconut are higher if your consumption is limited to the ideal requirement.

Like for everything in life, when using coconut too, excess leads to problems. So, to enjoy all its goodness, restrict its use as a condiment or use it as prescribed by the dietician or doctor.

NutrientsValues

Nutrient composition [100g of coconut meat]
Energy 350kcal
Carbohydrates 15.23g
Sugars 6.2g
Proteins 3.3g
Total fats 33.4g
Saturated fat 29.7g
Dietary fibre 9.0g
Potassium 356mg

Source: Gopalan C, Nutritive Value of Indian Foods

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Malavika Athavale
Malavika Athavale is a post graduate in Dietetics from SNDT University and runs her nutrition clinic in Mumbai. She also conducts educational workshops and consults leading corporate houses.

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