Saturday, February 16, 2013

Superfoods: Coconut

Okay, okay, okay so I without a doubt will say that the coconut is my favorite superfood! It is so useful and versatile. The Lord out did Himself making this tree. The fruit it bears is exemplary. It is full of protein, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, and is very healing to the body inside and out. The coconut is composed of four main parts: the flesh, the oil, the water, and the shell.

The Flesh

The flesh of the coconut is extremely nutritious. You can eat it fresh or dried. It is high in some B vitamins; specifically B1 Thiamin, B2 Riboflavin, and B3 Niacin. Thiamin directly aids a well functioning nervous system, the regulation of muscle control, as well as the production of hydrochloric acid. Riboflavin is rich in ripe coconuts. We need it for healthy cell growth. Niacin is helpful in reducing high cholesterol as well as preventing heart attacks. High doses of niacin can be helpful in treating depression.

When the flesh is dried and ground it becomes a lovely protein rich, gluten free flour. Be aware like most gluten free flours it works best in combination of another gluten free flour. In some recipes it does stand well alone though. It doesn't take much flour in recipes either, so it can be cost effective despite the fact that the initial cost is somewhat high, again though, you get what you pay for in all areas.

From the flesh, inside the coconut tree comes a type of sap. According to the makers of the Coconut Secret product line, "The nutrient-rich coconut sap comes right out of the tree naturally abundant in 17 Amino Acids (the building blocks of protein), broad-spectrum B Vitamins (especially rich in Inositol, known for its effectiveness on depression, high cholesterol, inflammation, and diabetes), Vitamin C, Minerals (high in Potassium, essential for electrolyte balance, regulating high blood pressure, and sugar metabolism), as well as FOS (a prebiotic that promotes digestivehealth)."

The drying of the sap creates several wonderful products that are excellent to be consumed: coconut nectar (tastes like a cross between honey and maple syrup), vinegar (use instead of white vinegar in recipes; white vinegar shouldn't be eaten, white vinegar is only good for cleaning), aminos (super soy sauce substitute), and sugar crystals (tastes like brown sugar; perfect for baking). The process to extract the sap is quite lengthy. Someone needs to get to the top of the tree, tap the sap by inserting bamboo shoots into the tree. It can flow for up to twenty years, so that's quite a supply. Also the sap is naturally sweet so no high heat processing is necessary to produce sweetness as in other syrups. That means the sap retains its raw enzymes that are very beneficial to the body.

The flesh blended with water is what gives us the lovely coconut milk. You can make your own easily. It's one of the easier non-dairy milks to make because it's just one to two steps, depending on what you need the milk for in your kitchen. I'll have instructions on how to do it in my recipe e-book that will be ready in April! If you ever purchase one in the store look for organic whole coconut milk.

The Oil

If there is only one oil you keep in your home, make it organic, extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil. It is one of the best oils to cook with because it has a high healthy saturated fat count. The fat allows it to have a high heat tolerance. This makes it perfect for cooking. Most other oils cannot withstand the heat. The elevated temperatures change the chemical structure of otherwise healthy oils such as extra virgin olive and hemp oils.

The main nutrient is lauric acid. At one time coconut oil was abundantly used in our foods. When the use of cheaper oils devoid of nutrition came into play such as canola and vegetable oils there became a lack of lauric acid in the diet. When we consume lauric acid it turns into monolaurin. That is a superhero compound that fights bacterial infections and some viruses. Breast milk is the only other natural source of lauric acid. There are 7 grams of lauric acid per tablespoon of coconut oil.

For medicinal use 2-3 tablespoons daily is recommended according to Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Coconut Cures. You can come this straight off of a spoon, or do as I do and combine it in foods like smoothies, spreading it on Paleo bread, or putting it in raw desserts. Coconut oil is a natural extractor of toxins. It has been studied to be effective in treatment of memory disorders like dementia and Alzheimer's. On occasion when I oil pull for detoxing purposes, I use it as well.

Due to the natural composition of the oil it contains awesome antibacterial and anti microbial properties. It is an excellent moisturizer for the whole body. I use it as my night time facial moisturizer. In the evening I will massage coconut oil into my scalp and on my hair for a conditioning treatment, and wash it in the morning. During the day I will apply a small amount for dry ends and reducing frizziness. I use it as my make up remover. I combine it with essential oils for medical chest and feet rubs. It is wonderful to apply on rashes, especially baby diaper rash. You can combine it with baking soda and lavender essential oil for a deodorant. I use it to make tooth soap, as opposed to using toothpaste, which can actually damage the teeth.

The Water

Throw out the Gatorade, Pedialyte, Propel, and all of the other so called electrolyte beverages. They are full of bleached sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, as well as dangerous artificial food colorings and dyes. Electrolytes are special salts the body uses for our cells to communicate. Therefore electrolytes are extremely important. When we sweat, vomit, or have diarrhea a lot we lose an abundance of electrolytes. In order to replace them an excellent solution is to drink real coconut water. It is the clear juice inside the young coconuts. Young coconuts shells are green in color. You can also purchase them with the green portion off in which case they would look white with a pointy top.

The coconut water that has been sitting on the shelf in a Tetra Pak doesn't seem to have the same healing benefits of the water straight from the coconut. Dr. Bruce Fife, says in his book Coconut Cures, that coconut water reduces problems for infants suffering from intestinal distress, it keeps the body cool, cures malnourishment, dissolves kidney stones, and many other medicinal uses.

It is important to keep in mind the quality of coconuts and coconut water you purchase. Dr. Joseph Mercola says, "The most common variety of coconut being grown today for harvesting coconut water is a high-water yield dwarf hybrid variety that CAN be heavily fertilized and sprayed with pesticides. This makes it very important for you to select organic coconut water and organic fresh coconuts."

The Shell

The outer shell we do not consume, yet it can be very useful in the home. When well cleaned and allowed to dry it can be used for cups, bowls, cooking utensils. They burn well, and are non toxic to inhale so they are a great fuel for fires. The shells are extremely absorbent, therefore shredded they make a great mulch. Also the natural carbon in the shell makes it great to use for water filtration. The water filter in your home now just might be using coconut shells!

As you see the coconut tree is truly an outstanding creation by the Most High. If you haven't adopted coconut products into your diet and health practices, and you don't have a coconut allergy, I highly suggest you become acquainted with them.



2 comments:

  1. Great post - I use something coconut nearly every day in my kitchen. Coconut oil is my go to in the kitchen and I use it for everything but dressing a salad. Coconut flour is just about all I bake with - in fact a lot of the baked goods on my blog are solely coconut flour - love the protein and fiber it contains. Homemade macaroons and coconut curries are what I use shredded coconut and coconut milk for. Hadn't thought about the shells, though! =D Like you I use coconut oil on my skin and hair straight up and make my own body butter with it. It really is a blessing.

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