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What Are The Health Benefits Of Coconut (Cocos nucifera)?

JEROME MICHAEL EBRUPHIYO Tuesday, September 21, 2021 Science and Nature

 
This post will provide information on "What are the health benefits of coconut (Cocos nucifera)?" as well as provide answers to questions like: Where do coconuts come from originally? Who discovered coconut? When did coconuts originate? What is the original name of coconut? How much raw coconut should you eat a day? What happens if you eat a lot of coconut? Is it healthy to eat coconut skin?

History of Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the palm tree family (Arecaceae) and the only living species of the genus Cocos. The evolutionary history and fossil distribution of Cocos nucifera and other members of the tribe Cocoseae is more ambiguous than modern-day dispersal and distribution, with its ultimate origin and pre-human dispersal still unclear. There are currently two major viewpoints on the origins of the genus Cocos, one in the Indo-Pacific, and another in South America. It is one of the most useful trees in the world and is often referred to as the "tree of life". It provides food, fuel, cosmetics, folk medicine and building materials, among many other uses. The inner flesh of the mature seed, as well as the coconut milk extracted from it, form a regular part of the diets of many people in the tropics and subtropics. Coconuts are distinct from other fruits because their endosperm contains a large quantity of clear liquid, called coconut water or coconut juice. Mature, ripe coconuts can be used as edible seeds, or processed for oil and plant milk from the flesh, charcoal from the hard shell, and coir from the fibrous husk. Dried coconut flesh is called copra, and the oil and milk derived from it are commonly used in cooking – frying in particular – as well as in soaps and cosmetics. Sweet coconut sap can be made into drinks or fermented into palm wine or coconut vinegar. The hard shells, fibrous husks and long pinnate leaves can be used as material to make a variety of products for furnishing and decoration. Their cultivation and spread was closely tied to the early migrations of the Austronesian peoples who carried coconuts as canoe plants to islands they settled. The similarities of the local names in the Austronesian region is also cited as evidence that the plant originated in the region. For example, the Polynesian and Melanesian term niu; Tagalog and Chamorro term niyog; and the Malay word nyiur or nyior. Other evidence for a Central Indo-Pacific origin is the native range of the coconut crab; and the higher amounts of C. nucifera-specific insect pests in the region (90%) in comparison to the Americas (20%), and Africa (4%). The name coconut is derived from the 16th-century Portuguese word coco, meaning 'head' or 'skull' after the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features. Coco and coconut apparently came from 1521 encounters by Portuguese and Spanish explorers with Pacific islanders, with the coconut shell reminding them of a ghost or witch in Portuguese folklore called coco (also côca). In the West it was originally called nux indica, a name used by Marco Polo in 1280 while in Sumatra. He took the term from the Arabs, who called it ??? ???? jawz hindi, translating to 'Indian nut'. Thenga, its Tamil/Malayalam name, was used in the detailed description of coconut found in Itinerario by Ludovico di Varthema published in 1510 and also in the later Hortus Indicus Malabaricus. The specific name nucifera is derived from the Latin words nux (nut) and fera (bearing), for 'nut-bearing'.

Description of Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Cocos nucifera is a large palm, growing up to 30 m (100 ft) tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m (13–20 ft) long, and pinnae 60–90 cm (2–3 ft) long; old leaves break away cleanly, leaving the trunk smooth. On fertile soil, a tall coconut palm tree can yield up to 75 fruits per year, but more often yields less than 30. Given proper care and growing conditions, coconut palms produce their first fruit in six to ten years, taking 15 to 20 years to reach peak production. Botanically, the coconut fruit is a drupe, not a true nut. Like other fruits, it has three layers: the exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp. The exocarp is the glossy outer skin, usually yellow-green to yellow-brown in color. The mesocarp is composed of a fiber, called coir, which has many traditional and commercial uses. Both the exocarp and the mesocarp make up the "husk" of the coconut, while the endocarp makes up the hard coconut "shell". Unlike some other plants, the palm tree has neither a tap root nor root hairs, but has a fibrous root system. The root system consists of an abundance of thin roots that grow outward from the plant near the surface.

Health Benefits of Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

  • Coconut meat is high in fat and the MCTs it contains may help you lose excess body fat
  • The meat also provides carbs and protein along with many essential minerals, such as manganese, copper, iron, and selenium
  • Eating coconut may improve cholesterol levels and help decrease belly fat, which is a risk factor for heart disease
  • Coconut is low in carbs and rich in amino acids, healthy fats, and fiber, making it a great choice for blood sugar control
  • Coconuts contain polyphenol antioxidants that can protect your cells from damage, which may reduce your disease risk

Side Effects of Coconut (Cocos nucifera)

Coconut doesn't have too many side effects, but it does have a lot of fat. Coconut is made of up of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats, but is mostly saturated fat. Too much saturated fat can increase your cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease.

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