The coconut didn’t start with the lime
Its earliest mention dates back to 545 A.D., referred to as the argell tree and its drupe. It was referred to after that in several other historical texts by other names, depending on the culture. Antonio Pigafetta recorded, during his first crossing of the Pacific Ocean from Italy in 1521, that the natives of what would become Guam and the Philippines used the coconut for making wine, making cord, eating, making a kin to bread, drinking the water, extracting coconut oil, and making milk.
It is believed that the name “coconut” originated from the spanish language, as the word “coco” means “grinning face, grin, grimace” to correspond to the markings on the coconut. The Portugese credit the sailors of Vasco De Gama for naming the coconut with the word “coco” as it reminded them of a ghost or witch in Portugese folklore called “coco.”
Kenneth M. Olsen, PhD, a plant evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, undertook research to determine the genetic origin of coconuts, and found that there are two distinct groups of coconuts. The first population appears to have been cultivated in the Pacific Basin (the ocean surrounding Tahiti), and the second from the Indian Ocean basin. It is believed that the coconut spread via ocean currents and was picked up by local peoples to be cultivated, and is now spread throughout most of the tropics.
Why coconut is SO good for you
Regardless of what form you choose to consume your coconut, it is guaranteed to benefit you in some way.
Per 100 grams of coconut meat you will receive 33 grams of fat, 89% of which is saturated fat, and 24 grams of carbohydrates. The meat also contains several trace minerals, most prominent of which are manganese, iron, phosphorus and zinc. See the full nutrient profile here.
Coconut water has become very popular as a drink, and for good reason. It is an excellent electrolyte replacement! The electrolyte content is coconut water is almost identical to that of human plasma, making it ideal for consumption. The water from young coconuts is superior because it contains more nutrients. The function of the coconut water is to feed the developing endosperm, but in the young coconut the endosperm is not fully developed and has not yet used the nutrients in the water. Similar concept to the egg yolk for a developing chick. See the full nutrient profile here.
Coconut sap is collected by cutting the flower clusters and allowing to drain. If left out, it will ferment and create palm wine. Coconut Aminos have become a popular replacement for soy sauce and are made of coconut sap. If the sap is boiled it will yield a sweet syrup, and when completely dried will make coconut sugar. Coconut sap contains a wide range of minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, 17 amino acids (the building blocks of protein), and it has a nearly neutral pH that will not imbalance the acid/alkaline levels.
Coconut oil now lines the shelves of every grocery store and market because of its ease of use and health benefits. There are two possible processes that are used to make your coconut oil:
- Mechanical expeller-pressing: the fresh coconut meat is dried and mechanically pressed to extract the oil
- Wet milling: coconut milk is pressed out of fresh coconut, and the oil is separated from the milk. Separating the oil from the milk is done by boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes or mechanical centrifuge.
Coconut oil is comprised of fatty acids called Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA) and saturated fats. MCFA’s of coconut oil specifically are caprylic, lauric and capric acids. These three fatty acids are much easier to digest than other fats and much less likely to be converted to body fat. Therefore they are a great energy source! Keep some on hand when you get the munchies an hour before dinner.
Lauric acid has been shown to possess anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-parasitic and anti-bacterial properties, so be sure to keep some on hand when you think you are coming down with an infection. Don’t be afraid to be generous with applying to cuts and skin infections either.
MCFA’s are great for reducing inflammation both internally and externally, making coconut oil great for inflammatory diseases and skin issues. Reducing internal inflammation with always improve external appearance!
Coconut oil aids in the prevention of cancer by increasing ketone production during digestion. Cancer cells cannot feed on anything but sugars, suggesting that a ketogenic diet may improve the chances of a complete recovery.
Because 91% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat, it is much more stable for cooking with heat.
See the full nutrient profile here.
How your BODY will thank you for including coconut oil in your diet
As you have seen, the fats in coconut oil have much to offer your body! And your body will thank you in the following ways:
- Increased weight loss-Coconut oil is easily converted to usable energy compared to other fats. This contributes to weight loss by helping you feel more satisfied, and by increasing your overall metabolism to begin to burn excess body fat.
- Improved brain health–As I mentioned above, consuming coconut oil increases the production of ketones. Ketones are a great source of energy for the brain, and can be utilized more easily. This aids in the reduction of seizures and helps with degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimers.
- Improved blood sugar regulation–This will benefits diabetics and those wanting to build muscle mass. Consuming coconut oil increases the production of insulin, the hormone that regulated blood sugar. Increased insulin production means lower blood sugar and increased building of muscle tissue, which will further improve metabolism.
- Improved immune health–Coconut oil is a proven killer of viruses, bacteria, fungus and helps to limit parasites. If you can eliminate an infection naturally, your body not only rids itself of the invaders but also builds immunity for the next exposure. Think of coconut oil when you have a cold, flu, or yeast infection.
- Improved heart health–Regular consumption of coconut oil increases HDL levels and decreases LDL levels, reducing the risk for coronary disease.
- Improved skin and hair health-Applying coconut oil directly to the hair will help to reduce protein loss from the hair shaft, making the hair healthier and stronger. Be careful with the application, though; too much will leave your hair looking greasy! The skin requires healthy fats to be healthy and fulfill its job of being an effective barrier against the external environment. Consuming the oil aids in the health of your skin by providing your skin with healthy fats, which will help reduce overall dryness and conditions like dandruff. Applying externally is a more immediate benefit. This will result in you looking younger longer!
- Improved oral health–Coconut oil can be used for oil pulling or as an ingredient in toothpaste, with the end result that plaque formation is decreased and gums are healthier. I have found with to be the case with our homemade toothpaste.
- Improved organ health–Coconut oil offers protective benefits for the liver and kidneys from toxins and pharmaceuticals, and regular consumption may help to prevent the formation of kidney and gall stones.
- Improved digestion–Consuming coconut oil aids in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It may also improve complete fat digestion by improving digestive enzyme function.
- Improved skeletal health–Coconut oils aids in the absorption of calcium and vitamin D, both of which are necessary for the
building of bone tissue. This will benefit those with osteoporosis and children that are growing.
- Improved hormone balance–Because coconut oil is easily broken down and absorbed, it is used efficiently for creating hormone precursors in the body. This can help both men and women who are struggling with hormone imbalance, such as E.D., acne, menstrual imbalances, female disorders and low sex drive. The thyroid will also benefit from coconut oil, which helps to improve energy and establish a proper metabolism.
- Decrease oxidative stress and inflammation–Free radical damage is the leading cause of inflammation and aging. Coconut oil is a highly effective anti-oxidant, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, which leads to decreased pain and an increased feeling of well-being. Think of reducing arthritic pain, aches and pains, and fatigue.
- Why don’t we just say “improve the health of your whole body!”
Find a good coconut oil
The way in which the coconut is processed establishes the quality of the oil. Here are some tips to looking for the best quality:
- Look for “virgin coconut oil.” While there is not as established legal standard for how that is defined, producers define it as oil that starts out with fresh coconut meat. Then is it processed by either expeller-pressing or wet-milling. There is never any chemicals or heat used in either process.
- If it does not say “virgin coconut oil” or define that it is expeller-pressed, chances are it is solvent-extracted. Hexane is the most common solvent used.
- Look for organic to ensure that it is grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides.
- Avoid “liquid coconut oils” that are rising in popularity. Also called fractionated coconut oil, liquid coconut oil is not actually coconut oil, but rather a fractionated by-product. In order to make a “coconut oil” that is liquid at room temperature, the lauric acid has been removed. As you may recall from earlier lauric acid contains most of the health benefits of coconut oil, so removing it leaves a rather empty look-alike. What is left are the other MCFAs and oleic and linoleic acid, which in complete coconut oil make up a small percentage. Neither of those two fatty acids are heat stable and will convert to trans-fats with heated cooking. In other words, if it doesn’t look like the coconut oil in the picture on the shelf in the store, do your research.
- Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified seal to ensure that it is non-GMO. At this point, coconut palms are not undergoing genetic modification but if they are fertilized with animal products there may be an introduction of GM products.
How to add it to your lifestyle
In any way possible! The number one way it to consume it by cooking with it or adding it to drinks. I eat a spoonful once in a while.
Put it on your skin to improve the health of your skin and decrease dryness.
Use it on your hair, sparingly. I use coconut oil as a conditioner after washing with castile soap and rinsing with vinegar.
Bake with it. It will replace any oil 1:1.
And any other way that you find!
Where to find it!
Check out my coconut review blogs to find out!
- Coconut oil
- Coconut snacks
- Other coconut products