Coconut is a tropical fruit found in tropical coastlines around the world—Tropical Africa, The pacific Islands, Caribbean, Central America and South-east Asia. The meat of coconut is whitish and houses the coconut water. The meat has a hard covering which is also covered by a fibrous thick back, the colour of the external cover varies from green to brown.
Coconut can be eaten as raw coconut, as coconut oil and/or coconut oil. The latter is also of great use in the cosmetic industry.
Coconut is made up of water, carbohydrate (including fibre and sugar), fat (very rich in fats), protein (small quantity), minerals (calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iron and zinc) and Vitamins (only a little quantity of vitamin C ).
Coconut water is taken as fluid while coconut is used for cooking and also in the making of hair and body lotions/creams.
The fat in coconut consists of medium chain saturated fatty acids (lauric acid) which are easily broken down by the body for energy; they are hardly stored, monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid ) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid).
Coconut has no cholesterol; consequently it is not likely to harm the heart.
Coconut water within the fruit is very pure and sterile and as said earlier contains a lot of potassium and sodium (electrolytes) and hence very useful during medical emergencies in armed conflicts.
The health benefits of coconut are due to the contained nutrients listed above
1. Healthy Hair
Coconut oil is usually applied to human hair to encourage healthy growth and discourage dandruff development. It gives the hair a healthy curly appearance.
2. Healthy skin
Coconut owing the fatty acids it contains is very good for the skin, it discourages dryness and flaking of the skin and also wrinkles.
3. Usefulness in Medical emergencies
Coconut water is like blood without the red cells; it is sterile and can be used and has been used to replace blood through transfusion during war when medical personnel run short of everything. It was used during the Second World War and during the Nigeria civil war by doctors to treat blood loss. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes (potassium, sodium, calcium), one of the few natural fruits with them.
4. Promotion of weight loss
Coconut can serve as a source of fat in our diet by the use of coconut oil in cooking and also by eating the coconut raw. The saturated fatty acids in coconut are of medium chain and easily converted by the liver for energy before some other sources. Consequently, the fat from coconut is not stored in the adipose tissues of our body.
Hence people in the pacific islands though known to consume a lot of coconut are not obese and have long and healthy lives.
5. Improved Immunity
Coconut contains lauric acid which is converted in the body to certain products that have anti bacterial, anti viral and anti fungal properties. Therefore coconut can help the body in the fight against infections
6. Protection of the heart
High intake of soluble fibre reduces absorption of cholesterol and bile acid (which are also rich in cholesterol) from the small intestines, thereby reducing blood cholesterol level. When soluble fibres are broken down by bacteria in the intestines, some fatty acids released are said to reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver. By lowering blood cholesterol, fibres help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
The fatty acids found in coconut also discourage the production of cholesterol in the body thereby reducing the risks of heart disease and stroke.
Coconut also has a lot of magnesium and potassium; both in the right concentrations help the heart to function properly.
7. Strengthening of our bones
Coconut contains a lot of phosphorus and calcium; both minerals are found mainly in the bones and teeth of our body. We must some regularly to ensure strong bones, proper growth and good teeth development. We will also ward-off stiff joint and bone pain.