The first Portuguese explorers to India saw something that reminded them of a witch and named it ‘coco’ meaning grimace after the scary look of a witch. Hence the designation ‘coconut’ was born. The exact genesis of the coconut plant is unknown. Some think it comes from Southern India and others claim the first coconuts came from South America. No compelling proof can be found to support either hypothesis. What is fascinating is how the coconut has managed to float long distances and populate all of the tropics and the Southern Pacific. The coconut is a particularly hardy plant that can manage with salty water conditions and thrives in high humidity. The weakness of the coconut is frost.
Although the word ‘coconut’ is believed to be taken from the Portuguese for ‘grinning face or grimace’ the more interesting word for coconut is the Sanskrit kalpa vriksha that means “the tree which provides all the necessities of life”. As is so often the case with Sanskrit words, it has found its way into other languages: several Polynesian languages refer to the coconut as ‘the tree of life’.
Recently a stir has been created about coconut water by such famous people as Madonna and Matthew McConaughey who rave about coconut water as an isotonic beverage. Coconut water is made from young coconuts before coconut meat is formed. The liquid from these coconuts has a sweet and tangy taste that can take some getting used to. It is worth making the effort because coconut water is 99% fat free and low in carbohydrates and sugar. At the same time coconut water is much higher in essential electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium than any sports drink.
Coconut water also helps to restore the ph balance to the body and to clean the digestive tract. Coconut water was famously used for emergency blood transfusions in World War Two because it is an exact match with blood plasma.
There are two types of coconut milk: thick and thin. Thick coconut milk comes from the first pressing of coconut meat. The meat is then soaked in warm water and pressed again to produce thin coconut milk.
Generally coconut milk in a can is a mixture of thick and thin varieties and this is why canned coconut milk can appear lumpy — it is the thick coconut milk separating from the thin coconut milk. Coconut milk is a popular ingredient in food in Southern Asia, the Caribbean, Polynesia and Africa. Coconut milk is high in vitamins and minerals such as calcium and can be effectively used as a substitute for yoghurt and milk for those with lactose intolerance.
Coconut oil used to be commonly available in shops in the USA up until the 1950s. With the rise in the agribusiness that focuses on corn and soy coconut oil was effectively pushed out of the market. This became legitimized in the 1980s by the scientific assertion that polyunsaturated fats were healthier than saturated fats such as coconut oil. It is only recently that the internet has allowed people to challenge this pernicious bit of science propaganda. Maverick scientists such as Mary Enig pointed out the trans fat in vegetable oils were causing cancer and obesity and that saturated fat in animal fats and coconut oil were actually healthier. She was a famous whistle blower in the 1970s when she worked for the US Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs.
Further research has shown that coconut oil is unusual in that it is saturated fat with a high percentage of medium chain fatty acids. These medium chain fatty acids are readily converted by the body into energy, whereas the long chain fatty acids found in soy, sunflower, safflower etc. contain long chain fatty acids that the liver stores in lipoproteins.
Another interesting scientific development is the discovery of lauric acid in coconut milk. It is also found in mother’s milk and is an antimicrobial agent that helps to protect the body from infections and viruses. As a result coconut oil in the diet has been cited as a treatment for herpes, HIV and other viruses.
Finally, research has also shown correlation between thyroid stimulation and coconut oil in the diet. The more active the thyroid gland, the better the immunity system is. Thus, coconut oil is often cited as a preventative and functional food to stop cancer and heart disease.
Coconut products are clearly worth researching and a more honest appraisal of the effects of the over-reliance on corn and soy in America needs to be conducted. Variety is not just the spice of life it is a pre-requisite for a healthy life; and that variety should rightfully include coconut water, milk and oil.
1) Author: Wikipedia
Page Title: Coconut- Wikipedia
Site title: www.wikipedia.org
2) Author: Stop Trans Fat
Page title: Mary Enig was a lone whistle blower against trans fats
Site title: www.stop-trans-fat.com