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Natural food of the month - Coconut water and coconuts                                                   May 2010  



Coconut Water and Coconuts

coconutsRemember the old coconut shies at garden fetes, where you hurl balls to try and knock the coconut off a stand? Even the word shy has gone out of usage now (it means the act of tossing or throwing) but if this activity is no longer a favourite, coconuts themselves are becoming more and more popular.

One of the latest health foods to hit the news is coconut water, now being dubbed as nature’s sports drink. Scientists say the claims have a lot of truth, for coconut water – the clear liquid found inside a coconut when you crack it open – could be classified as isotonic, meaning it is absorbed rapidly by the body, helping to quickly replace levels of fluid and energy lost perhaps during exercise.

Coconut water contains a number of beneficial nutrients such as carbohydrates for energy, water for rehydration and electrolytes (or body salts) to replace loss through sweat. It also contains no fat at all.

But it is not just the liquid that is beneficial; coconuts are highly nutritious, containing a range of vitamins and minerals – and coconut oil has been used as a cure for many illnesses for years.

Coconut, in its various forms, has been used to treat a wide range of health problems, from jaundice and kidney stones to upset stomachs, fever and asthma. Certainly in the Pacific region, it has a reputation for killing bacteria that causes a range of infections including throat problems and urinary tract infections and also gum disease. It is also used as an aid to digestion.

Coconut oil is also hailed as a remarkable food. With its high saturated fat content, how can it be described as the healthiest oil on earth? This is because the fat in coconut oil is unique and made up from medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). Most fatty acids including those found in meat, milk and vegetable oils are long chain fatty acids. The body metabolizes fatty acids differently depending on size, and it is said that MCFA do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease.

Evidently there are very few good dietary sources of MCFA, and the best sources are coconut and palm kernel oils.

Without doubt, there is a lot more to a coconut that its ability to stay on a stand, however hard you hit it with a ball at that garden fete!

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