Coconut is one among those ingredients that is widely used in cooking across cuisines in the world and now it is becoming increasingly popular for its health benefits. The coconut with its white pulp, the water, and oil that is extracted from it is known for its various health benefits. Although it is important to know that using the right cooking techniques help retain its nutritive value.
Benefits of Coconut
- Prevents Obesity – Coconut contains a good amount of fat that is mostly medium chain saturated fatty acid. These fatty acid helps to remove the excess fat in the body. The metabolic rate in the body is also reduced by removing stress from the pancreas. It burns more energy in people who are obese and helps them to move out of the obesity.
- Prevents Cardiovascular Disease - There is a misconception on coconut oil that it is not good for heart due to the saturated fat but it is actually good for the heart as it has a good amount of Lauric acid in it that prevents many heart diseases. If the arteries are injured coconut oil plays a good role by healing it completely. Lipid profiles can also be maintained in women during the perimenopausal period. Edible Coconut oil is believed to be a super food. It is known to aid in fat loss, better brain function helps improve blood cholesterol levels and more. You can read more here.
- Good Healing Agent – Coconut oil, when applied on any infected area, creates a layer that prevents from infection. It is effective bruises as it heals the damaged tissues. It also kills bacteria and prevents the affected area.
- Protects Skin – The skin tends to lose its elasticity and wrinkles tend to appear as we grow old, here comes the coconut oil to rescue in such situations. The antioxidants present in coconut oil and reduces the wrinkles on the face and helps for a glow on your skin as well. Rubbing coconut oil will help the tissues on the skin to strengthen and rejuvenate.
- Improves hair growth – Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, antiviral, antifungal properties. The scalp health is improved when it is applied and massaged into your scalp and prevents from dandruff. For hair growth, it is important to apply Luke warm coconut oil to your hair and leave it for few hours and wash them with a mild shampoo, you will notice growth and change in the texture if you have dry and rough hair.
- For Dental Care – Teeth require an adequate amount of calcium for its growth and maintenance, coconut that allows the body to absorb a good amount of calcium helps to grow strong teeth and also prevents from tooth decay. Plaque formation is reduced when coconut oil is consumed.
- In Ayurveda, coconut is considered to be a nourishing and nutritive source for the mind which in addition helps in lubricating the brain.
- Coconut is also known to remove the excessive thirst and hence our bodies naturally seem to want to drink the coconut water. The coconut water helps to balance the pitta in the body that most often gets aggravated in the summer months.
- Coconut is also believed to speed up metabolism by providing an immediate source of energy with fewer calories than other fats. In addition, coconut is high in ascorbic acid, B vitamins, proteins and various other vitamins and minerals. The pulp of the coconut rejuvenates tissues provides dietary fiber, helps build the immune system and provides many more amazing benefits. Coconut pulp is rich is vitamin A, E, and polyphenols which are one of the key players that work together to decrease the LDL Cholesterol.
- Fresh Coconut Water is rich in nutrients and contains five essential electrolytes that are present in the human body, from calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorous and magnesium. It helps in strengthen the bones, muscles, aids in weight loss and a whole lot of benefits that your body will begin to benefit when you have it regularly.
Research is time and again proving that the various forms of coconut are immensely beneficial for human health. Keeping the good research in mind, it is important to understand all good things also have in small portions to maintain optimal health. So watch what you eat and how much you eat to remain at the peak of your health.
Uses of Coconut
Coconut is very popularly used in various cuisines in India and Asia and is now increasingly used more in the west for its health related benefits. Below are the various forms out can use coconut in your cooking.
1 - Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can stay well in a normal room temperature for more than 2 years. The oil solidifies in the winters and you will often have to take small portions of the oil and melt it on really low heat to use it in its liquid form. Ensure you buy coconut oil that is used for cooking and not the one that is used for hair. You can use the coconut oil in stir-fries, pancakes, desserts, coffees and just about anything. You can even make your omelette for breakfast using coconut oil.
2 - Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is extracted from the pulp of the coconut. If you have fresh grated coconut, then blend it along with warm water in a blender until you get a smooth milk. Use a strainer and extract the milk and separate it from the pulp. Its best to use the extracted coconut milk immediately for freshness, but can be refrigerated for a couple of days. The fresh coconut milk has various uses in cooking - from stews, smoothies, puddings, desserts, Thai curries and more.
3 - Coconut Water
Coconut water as mentioned above comes with a whole lot of super benefits to the body. Coconut water is best consumed fresh and has a refrigerated shelf life of about 2 days. Fresh coconut water is always preferred over the packaged coconut water, as it is free from preservatives and contains all the essential nutrients.
4- Coconut Pulp (Meat)
Coconut meat is the rich white lining that is contained within the shell of a coconut. Coconut pulp can be juicy and tender, or slightly thick, tough and fibrous depending on how long the kernel has been stored. It is a good idea to grate the coconut meat and store it in a freezer safe container. It can stay fresh up to 2 months in the grated form in the deep-freezer. The coconut meat can be used in a variety of dishes like Curries, Soups, Smoothies,Korma, Stir Fries, Rice and more.
5- Coconut Flour Desiccated Coconut
Coconut flour is a soft flour made from the pulp left over after producing coconut milk. When it is made very fine, it becomes a flour and when it is coarsely ground it is desiccated coconut. Both of them have their own uses in the various form of cooking and is very popular in gluten-free diets.
Ensure that you store the coconut flour is stored in an airtight container in the deep-freezer to retain the freshness for a long time.
You may also like to try few recipes of coconut and enjoy them at home with your family.