Coconut palm - in Sanskrit means "a tree that gives everything you need in life." In fact, the usefulness of a coconut tree is comprehensive.
The leaves of this palm tree, very hard and durable (resistant to tearing under the influence of winds), serve to cover the roofs of local houses, to manufacture various household items - baskets, hammocks, brushes. Petioles of leaves are used in construction as a skeleton of a roof. A wooden trunk of a palm tree is used as a building material for the production of house walls. From the coconut shell make pots, a variety of dishes and decorations that local artists make. Palm fruits are widely used in cooking, cosmetology, medicine.
Where it grows and what a coconut tree looks like
Coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) - is a powerful tree, lives more than 100 years, with a straight trunk, up to 30 m high, crowned with thirty - forty large (4-5 m) cirrus leaves. Unisexual flowers are collected in separate short inflorescences that appear from the axils of the leaves, and since the inflorescences grow from the corner of each new developing leaf, at approximately the monthly rhythm, almost all year round you can collect fruits from the tree that consistently ripen the fruits. Almost a year passes from the fertilization of the flower to the full ripening of the fetus, which also allows you to collect nuts at various stages of maturity.
The origin of the coconut tree is not fully understood, but, most likely, it comes either from the islands of Polynesia and Indonesia, or from East Africa. Already in very early historical eras, about 4000 years ago, the cultivation of this palm tree spread in many countries outside the original zone. It is claimed that sea currents carried coconuts along the islands of the Indian and Pacific Ocean. This theory is not reliable, but has many supporters, since the fact is that the fruits of a coconut palm tree can drift up to 4,500 km by sea, while maintaining germination. Currently, coconut palm is widespread both in cultivated and wild form in the tropical zones of both hemispheres. He likes a warm sea climate and often grows even on salty coastal sands.
How to harvest coconuts
The fruit of a coconut palm, from a botanical point of view, is drupe, but since its design resembles a walnut, it received the name coconut (often called simply coconut). Ripe coconut weighs from 2 to 4 kg, has a length of 20 to 35 cm and a diameter of 15 to 20 cm. The outer soft shell of a coconut is 5 to 10 cm thick and consists of closely interwoven fibers called coir. They are light and resistant to abrasion, and their length ranges from 15 to 30 cm.
The coir of young nuts is tender and soft. A favorite treat for children who love to chew and suck it. But, first of all, coir is of industrial importance, since the fibers of which it consists are very strong, durable, flexible and do not decay for a very long time under the influence of ordinary and sea water. Ropes for ships, fabrics, walkways and carpets are made from it. Arab travelers wrote about coir products in Java in the 11th century, and Marco Polo was two centuries later. Currently, most industrial products from coir are manufactured by India.
If you remove the ripe coir from the coconut, you get a spherical, slightly elongated nut. At one end of the nut there are three holes closed by a thin membrane through which the seed can germinate. Inside, it is filled with a 1-2-centimeter dense and hard layer of the walnut kernel. The rest of the inside of the nut is filled with coconut juice, transparent or slightly clouded, resembling diluted milk, because of this it is called coconut milk.
Europeans became interested in palm trees only in the middle of the 19th century, when coconut oil began to be used for soap production, and then, as cooking oil, mainly for frying and for the production of margarines.
Useful and healing properties of coconut
Coconuts are very important in terms of trade and nutrition, in some parts of the world they represent the main food of the population. Coconut is a nut whose health effects are appreciated not only by its lovers, but also by scientists. No wonder - the flesh of coconut is rich in fiber, contains potassium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as folic acid. However, saturated fatty acids contained in the flesh of coconut are of greatest importance.
These are not the saturated fatty acids found in most animal products, that is, long chain triglycerides (LCT), which increase cholesterol and the development of atherosclerosis. Saturated fatty acids found in coconut are medium chain triglycerides. (MCT), which are metabolized in a completely different way. Due to the fact that their molecules are smaller, the process of their metabolism is faster. The presence of enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of LCT fats, i.e. lipase and bile, is not required. MCT acids bypass the fatty cells of the gastrointestinal tract, entering directly into the portal vein. Due to this, they are not deposited as spare material, but are a quickly available source of energy.
100 g of coconut contains a large amount of lauric acid (15.3 g), as well as 5.06 g of myristic acid. Coconut palm fruits are rich in natural amino acids (data per 100 g):
- isoleucine - 121 mg;
- leucine - 233 mg;
- lysine - 140 mg;
- phenylalanine - 158 mg;
- valine - 186 mg;
- arginine - 513 mg;
- alanine - 158 mg;
- aspartic acid - 308 mg;
- glutamic acid - 708 mg;
- glycine - 149 mg;
- proline - 130 mg;
- serine - 158 mg.
Ripe coconut kernels contain about 50% water, 25-35% fat, 4% protein and 8% sugar. They are very nutritious not only because of the high calorie content, but also because of the exceptional quality of the protein they contain.
How to choose a coconut
In the store, before buying, you should carefully examine the "nuts". There should be no white spots on the coconut. You should also carefully examine its three holes. Check if they are all rigid and tight. A soft hole in a coconut does not bode well. The nut is damaged and the water turned sour (smell and color of spoiled whey). If you shake the coconut, you should hear the sound of water. The more water, the fresher it is.
How to open a coconut
What is the name and usefulness of coconut flesh?
A solid coconut endosperm, dried in the sun or in an oven, is called copra. Copra contains only 7% water, while 60-70% fat, 14% sugar and 7% protein. It is crushed into flakes, chips or coconut flour, which are of great use in baking and confectionery.
As you know, a person can not be limited to vegetable protein, but he must consume at least a small amount of animal protein daily. So, coconut protein is able to completely replace animal proteins in the diet, and because of this, coconut is a particularly important raw material of the food industry in a vegetarian diet.
From copra a very valuable product is obtained, used in the food industry and in technology, due to the consistency of the name - coconut oil. It, at a temperature below 20-26 ° C, has a constant consistency resembling butter, and at a higher temperature, liquid. Good fresh coconut oil is pure white, has a light taste and a delicate, peculiar smell.
In countries where coconut palm trees are massively grown, especially Indonesia, coconut flakes or just grated fresh coconut kernels are added to all kinds of dishes, especially rice fried in coconut oil.
How to open coconut and extract flesh
Having bought a coconut, of course, you need to open it. To do this, following a certain procedure, is quite simple:
- there are three small holes in the place of germination of coconut seeds, with a corkscrew or a sharp knife, two of them need to be punched, then pour coconut milk into a bowl;
- to make it easier to open the nut, you can put it in the warm oven for several minutes. After cooling, place it on a board and strike with a meat hammer at a distance of one third from the eyes to the opposite end;
- while turning the coconut, continue to strike until the fruit is cracked;
- in order to separate the flesh from the shell, you need to insert a knife blade between them and gently pry;
- the coconut is ready!
You can drink milk right away or mix it with alcohol or other juices in the form of a drink. You can also use it for cooking with a tropical aftertaste. The first time is real coconut juice, it is better to drink in small sips, because the real taste of coconut is significantly different from those synthetic, to which many managed to get used to. The pulp is eaten in strips or dried and pulverized. They use it mainly in cooking, as the main emphasis of a dish or decoration.
Coconut oil - can be used instead of butter for bread or for frying dishes in a pan. Due to its low melting point (26 degrees Celsius), it is suitable as a base for sauces.
Coconut Water effectively quenches thirst due to its magnesium and calcium content. A coconut drink should be drunk immediately after training, in order to replenish the fluid.
Grated coconut - Great complement sweet dessert. It can also be added to a health fruit and milk shake.
Fresh coconut - Well satisfies hunger. Quickly metabolized fats replenish energy, and fiber will give a feeling of satiety. 200 g of coconut contains 18 g of fiber, which is two-thirds of the daily requirement.
Coconut milk - can be used to prepare Thai dishes or added to aromatic morning coffee, getting the depth of the coconut flavor. Coconut milk is also used for smoothies, cakes and creams. You can whip cream from the thick portion of coconut milk for use in desserts.
Coconut Sugar - despite the fact that it is devoid of coconut taste, it has a light caramel note. A diamond as a substitute for regular white sugar, as it has a lower glycemic index.
Valuable minerals and the extremely valuable form of medium-saturated acids will certainly enrich the daily menu.
Coconut oil in cosmetology
In the cosmetics industry, pure body butter or massage oil is used as an additive for cosmetics for very dry and flaky skin. It is also used for mature, sun-damaged skin and in preparations for the care of dry and damaged hair.
Coconut oil perfectly nourishes the hair, they acquire a healthy appearance and shine. It acts on the hair and scalp, penetrating deep into, and delivering useful fatty acids, vitamins and minerals: magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. Restores hair scales, making them elastic. Thanks to this, the hairstyle acquires a beautiful appearance, and the ends cease to be split. The oil also has a good effect on the scalp, preventing the destruction of hair follicles and preventing the formation of dandruff.
The oil should be applied to wet hair, and then put on a foil hat and wrap a towel around your head. Leave the oil on the hair for at least 2 hours or, for best results, leave it overnight, and then wash your hair thoroughly.
The oil can also be used without rinsing. However, one should be careful with the amount so as not to burden the hair. A drop of oil, rubbed with fingers and applied to the ends of the hair, is an excellent care. Treatment can be applied 2-3 times a week.
Coconut Face Oil
Coconut oil can be applied directly to dry or slightly damp skin. A little oil should be warmed up between the fingers and applied to the slightly moist skin of the face, neck, décolleté and the area around the eyes. In the case of very dry skin, coconut oil can be used as a makeup remover.
Coconut Healing Recipes
- Worldwide, coconut is used in the treatment of various diseases: ulcers, asthma, bronchitis, injuries, burns, colds, constipation, kidney stones and many others.
- Coconut oil, due to the construction of its molecules, does not adversely affect cholesterol levels and helps in protecting against heart diseases, which gives it a unique position among fats.
- Reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
- It acts as a protective antioxidant, protecting the body from damage by free radicals that cause premature aging and degenerative diseases.
Coconut - Coconut Palm Fruit
Used externally, promotes wound healing, slows down the appearance of spots on the skin, and has a softening effect in skin diseases (e.g. eczema). It is applied in the form of serum or mask.
According to many, this fluid can be considered an elixir of eternal youth and health. Coconut water is nothing but the endosperm of the kernels of not quite ripe, green coconuts, which looks like a clear liquid. Each fruit may contain from 200 ml to a liter of drink.
Coconut water has an almost identical composition to human blood plasma. It is extremely rich in elements and minerals important for life - it contains, for example, more electrolytes than most drinks produced for athletes. A lot of magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. It is also a very rich source of potassium - in 100 ml of drink it is more than in two bananas. A true treasure trove of B vitamins. Coconut water has a lot of vitamin C. Coconut water mixes easily with blood and is quickly absorbed by the human body.
Coconut oil contains the so-called MCT fats. They are very well absorbed, these are saturated fats, which the body digests easier than other fatty acids. Stimulate the metabolism. Coconut oil contains lauric acid. This acid is converted in the human body to monolaurin. This substance has antiviral and antibacterial characteristics. It overcomes without much difficulty, in particular, influenza viruses, hepatitis C viruses. Lauric acid is non-toxic, thanks to this, it is an excellent alternative for drugs used in viral diseases and bacterial infections.
Coconut oil can provide effective protection against many problem parasites, including giardia. Using daily coconut oil and other coconut products, you can get rid of the simplest giardia.
Coconut flour is obtained from the solid parts of the nut, which are crushed into a fine powder. It contains more protein than wheat flour, rye or corn. Due to its high fiber content and relatively small amount of carbohydrates, it does not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Thanks to this, it is perfect for diabetics. Also ideal for people who cannot tolerate gluten.
According to various studies, the inclusion of coconut flour in the diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol. It has a delicate aroma and taste of coconut. Great for sauces and baked goods such as muffins, pancakes and pies.
The beneficial properties of coconut
Contraindications and harm coconut
There are no contraindications. An exception is individual intolerance.
Few plants are so comprehensively used by humans as coconut trees. Coconut palm is reasonably of great economic importance, and many of its properties are not fully understood. This is truly a tree of thousands of uses.