Three Things You Might Not Know About Coconuts
Coconut is a unique fruit because it is available year-round rather than during a season. While loosely referred to as a fruit, a coconut is actually a drupe. A drupe is a fruit that contains a seed. Also called a stone fruit, other drupes include plums, cherries, almonds, and olives. Botanically speaking, a coconut can be a fruit, a nut, and a seed.
Coconut has been denoted with many benefits, some controversial. For example, coconut oil has been touted as a good fat for cooking. It is high in healthy fats that can boost fat burning and provide your body and brain with quick energy. They can also raise the good HDL cholesterol in your blood, which is linked to reduced heart disease risk. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat in our diet to 13 grams per day.
Coconut oil gets 84% of its calories from saturated fat and should not replace all of the fats you use for cooking. It is cholesterol-free and a great replacement for butter or lard when you’re baking. You should get most of your fat from unsaturated sources including olive oil, avocado (including avocado oil), and nuts to keep your heart healthy. Cooking aside, there are some great ways to use coconut for your health and wellbeing that you might not have thought about. Let’s look at a few:
Coconut water replenishes electrolytes in the body and enhances hydration. Potassium, which helps keep fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, is a key mineral in coconut water. Potassium may help balance out sodium’s effect on blood pressure.
Coconut skin care. Coconut oil may be linked to some potential benefits for skin, including reducing inflammation, moisturizing and helping heal wounds. The medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil also possess antimicrobial properties that protect the skin from harmful bacteria. Coconut oil cools excess heat in the skin, and helps alleviate discomfort caused by eczema, dry psoriasis, sunburn, and general dryness. It has been used as an effective sunscreen for thousands of years by pacific islanders.
Coconut for cooling. Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in India. A dosha is one of three substances that are present in a person’s body. Of the three doshas—pitta, vata and kapha—pitta is the hottest and tends to be the dominant dosha in the summer. If you’re feeling overheated in any way, there could be an excess of pitta dosha in your body. Try coconut oil on your feet to enjoy the cooling effects on a hot day.
For more information about the health benefits of coconut, visit WebMD. To learn more about Ayurvedic medicine, visit the Chopra Center website.