Coconut May Be the Healthiest Fruit.
Coconut, that fuzzy mound that requires near-Herculean strength to crack open, may be worth the effort. What you’ll find inside — the “meat,” milk and water — all contain
super-nutritional compounds that promote health. Plus, coconut oil is now believed to be a healthier alternative to other oils that also contain saturated fat.
That’s because the fatty acids in coconut oil are made up of the kind of triglycerides that are more easily metabolized by the body. It’s the reason why coconut oil is used in infant formulas and concoctions that nourish hospital patients. These kinds of triglycerides may also act differently on our heart. Evidence shows that virgin coconut oil either doesn’t raise cholesterol or primarily raises HDL (the good cholesterol). Research on Pacific Island and Asian populations whose diets are naturally very high in coconut oil has shown surprisingly low rates of heart disease.
This tropical fruit is also abundant in vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Coconut is an excellent source of manganese, and contains 60 percent of the recommended daily intake of the mineral. It is also contains eleven percent of the recommended intake for iron, 9 percent of phosphorus and 8 percent of potassium. There are trace amounts of other nutrients in coconut, including zinc, calcium and magnesium. And coconut is rich in protein. Okay, so it’s also high in calories, but coconut has the kind of protein that helps to build muscle rather than fat.
What else can be said of the coconut? Its meat contains lauric acid (the kind of fatty acid found in mother’s milk), which aids in fighting bacteria from intestinal parasites. Eating coconut also helps combat gas, constipation, ulcers, and other digestive ailments. And it’s high in fiber, rivaling other fiber sources such as wheat and oat bran.
Coconut oil has been used as a beauty booster for generations to soften skin and promote healthy and shine hair. And coconut water, now being marketed as a trendy drink, actually does have a substantial amount of potassium. Coconut water is so pure that it has been occasionally used to intravenously hydrate patients in situations or countries where more conventional hydration fluids aren’t available. (Coconut milk, made from the meat, is not the same as coconut water, which is found in the center of the coconut when it’s cracked open.)
So next time you pass coconuts in your produce aisle, think about purchasing one. Breaking it open can be worth the effort. If you’re still unsure of your cracking skills, consider adding shredded coconut to your cereal or using the oil in cooking. And don’t forget coconut milk. You’ll find it on most supermarket shelves in the canned goods section.