As I write this article I think about the scene in Castaway with Tom Hanks, as he struggles to open a coconut, so he can have some desperately needed water and food. If you were stranded on an island, coconuts would be phenomenal to have. The coconut (Cocos nucifera) is often referred to as the tree of life, and for good reason. Coconut is able to provide many of the bodies needs. Obviously you can eat the flesh of the coconut and drink the water, the leaves of the tree could be used to build a shelter, and the shell could be used as bowls, and you could probably even carve some utensils from the shell….but I digress.
The average lifespan of a coconut tree is eighty to ninety years. The nut takes nine to eleven months to develop from a flower until it’s ready to harvest. During that time the water in the coconut is slowly being filtered through the entire tree. Coconut water is considered the purest water on earth for this very reason.
The coconut really is a superfood. The water contains a perfect balance of electrolytes, along with vitamins and minerals. Many people don’t realize that coconut water is so extremely close in its chemical makeup to blood plasma that it was used during World War II and the Vietnam War for blood transfusions, due to the lack of medical supplies during war time. Like plasma, coconut water is a mixture of amino acids, hormones, minerals and sugar, all necessary for growth, development and rehydration. Since the water is low in protein, it does not cause immune or allergic reactions.
Electrolytes are essential for energy production and muscle function. When you sweat you are losing water and valuable levels of sodium and potassium. If you’ve overdone it during exercise, or lost a lot of fluids from the flu, you may feel, weak, shaky, dizzy, experience muscle cramping and possibly even have heart flutters, due to your electrolytes being out of balance. Water can replenish the fluids, but don’t replace the electrolytes you lost and in fact drinking too much water can dilute the electrolytes in your bloodstream, causing further deficiency. Due to the mineral content of calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as trace elements of boron, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, sulfur and zinc, coconut water is a natural choice for rehydration.
Research is beginning to show some amazing health benefits from consuming coconut in its many forms. Included below is an impressive list of benefits, taken directly from www.coconutresearchcenter.org:
• Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
• Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.
• Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
• Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
• Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
• Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
• Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
• Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
• Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
• Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
• Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
• Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
• Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
• Helps protect against osteoporosis.
• Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
• Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
• Improves digestion and bowel function.
• Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
• Reduces inflammation.
• Supports tissue healing and repair.
• Supports and aids immune system function.
• Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
• Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
• Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
• Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
• Functions as a protective antioxidant.
• Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
• Does not deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
• Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
• Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
• Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
• Reduces epileptic seizures.
• Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
• Dissolves kidney stones.
• Helps prevent liver disease.
• Is lower in calories than all other fats.
• Supports thyroid function.
• Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
• Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
• Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
• Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
• Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
• Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
• Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
• Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
• Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
• Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
• Helps control dandruff.
• Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
• Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
• Is completely non-toxic to humans.
Coconut Aminos– This is a great soy free, vegan option. This is also a good choice for diabetics as the c coconut sugar ingredient is low glycemic (35)
Coconut Flour-This flour is high in protein and fiber. It is made from dried and ground coconut meat and is a great alternative to grain flours, especially for those who are gluten intolerant. This flour can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. Because it does have a high fiber content, adjustments need to be made in baked recipes. Two tablespoons of coconut flour has five grams of fiber and eight grams of carbs.
Coconut Sugar-This is made by collecting the nectar that drips from the cut flower stalks. It is then boiled and filtered until a crystallized sugar develops. This is not a raw product, but has a low glycemic index. The taste is not as sweet as traditional table sugar. In marketing it is also referred to as palm sugar so the terms are interchangeable, but they are not the same. If you want coconut sugar that is what you need to look for on the label.
Coconut Butter/Manna-This is a whole food. It is the whole mature coconut meat that is dehydrated and then whipped into butter. Coconut butter can be used as a dips, spreads, in smoothies, sauces and baked goods.
Coconut Kefir– Inner Eco Coconut Water Probiotic Kefir is a natural, dairy free, sugar free, gluten free, soy free and vegan drink. One tablespoon averages over 100 billion probiotic CFU’s. It is made from young green coconuts (less than 6 months old), at this point they are at their peak in nutrition. The only ingredients in this probiotic are young coconut water and kefir cultures.
Coconut Milk-Coconut meat is rinsed and then ground and pressed either by hand or machine to release the thick creamy milk. Coconut milk is a wonderful substitute for those who cannot consume dairy products. Great in smoothies, cereals, sauces and in any recipes that use milk.
Coconut Oil-There are different methods of extracting the oil from the milk. The milk is removed from the coconut and allowed to settle and ferment. In a few days the water, solids and oil separate and the oil can be skimmed. It can also be put through a centrifuge and mixed with hot water and allowed to separate and then be skimmed. Raw coconut oil is expeller pressed to squeeze the oil out. Coconut oil has multiple uses in smoothies, cooking, baking, and for personal use as a moisturizer, even in deodorant. Click here for deodorant recipe.
Coconut Water-Coconut water contains potassium, magnesium, calcium and other essential electrolytes to keep you going throughout the day. It is delicious and nourishing as an everyday drink with no added sugars.
Coconut Vinegar -This is made from the sap of the coconut tree. Once collected the sap is allowed to ferment from 45-60 days. Raw vinegar will be unfiltered and unheated. The color will change as it ages, changing from a cloudy white to a clear light brown. As with other raw, unfiltered vinegars sediment develops and settles at the bottom and becomes the “mother vinegar”. This is a natural process, simply shake well before using. Use as you would any vinegar, in dressings, dips, sauces and more.
Coconut Cures by Bruce Fife, N.D.
The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, N.D.
Coconut Water for Health and Healing by Bruce Fife, N.D.