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Nuts over Coconuts

I remember a couple of years back, we had a visitor to Malaysia, who had never seen a coconut in his life. When we cracked open the shell for him, he was even more impressed at the clear sweet, yet slightly salty liquid that poured out. When we finally cut open the nut and fed him the white flesh, he was 100% in love with the coconut!

People from many diverse cultures, languages, religions, and races scattered around the globe have revered coconuts as a valuable source of both food and medicine. Wherever the coconut palm grows the people have learned of its importance as a effective medicine. For thousands of years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine.


However, there was a period in time when ‘experts’ were advising people to keep away from saturated fat, which included coconut oil. Well, the news is that, today, the myths have been banished and coconut oil is actually good for you.

So, how then , can a saturated fat could possibly be good for you. Well, it’s the coconut’s molecular structure that makes the difference between coconut oil and other vegetable oils.


In vegetable oils, the polyunsaturated fats are made up of long chains of fatty acids, which are known to deposit in the body as fat in adipose tissue, or as cholesterol in blood vessels. Long-chain fatty acids go through the digestive tract, are bundled into lipoproteins and are then released into the bloodstream, allowing them to collect in the body’s fat stores and artery walls.

On the other hand, the fats in coconut oil are made up of medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs), which the body metabolizes differently. MCTs are smaller molecules that are digested more rapidly, and therefore are sent directly to the liver and are available as an immediate fuel source. They essentially supply energy ­– not fat or cholesterol deposits. In fact, they increase the metabolic rate and, as such, have been touted as a possible aid for weight loss!

The coconut also increases the absorption of calcium, magnesium and the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K). It can help in the prevention of osteoporosis and cancer. It improves blood sugar regulation and the secretion of insulin, crucial in the management of type 2 diabetes. By boosting HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), coconut oil can even be considered heart-healthy.

The presence of lauric acid has been attributed with coconut oil’s antiviral and antibacterial actions, which can boost immunity and may be particularly effective against H. pylori, yeast infections and herpes. Coconut is also protective against stroke. Coconut products are also ideal for cooking. The oil has a high smoke point and, because it’s saturated, it won’t turn rancid when heated.

And my all time favourite use of the coconut is.. post workout. The coconut flesh is rich in fiber and is a good source of iron and manganese. Coconut water, which comes from the young green fruit, is an excellent alternative to artificial tasting sports drinks. It has salts and minerals, not just sugar – i.e. it’s a rich source of electrolytes (and particularly high in potassium), which we need to replenish when exercising in the heat. Try a big gulp of coconut juice after a long run.. there’s no feeling on earth quite like it!



2 Responses to Nuts over Coconuts

  1. missyblurkit October 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    I love coconut water but stay away from the flesh. Don’t like the “oily” scent / taste except for the very young green ones.

    • ciki October 29, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      really? wow. that’s the best part for me.. the flesh..! Choosing the young coconut will reduce that weird smell yes.

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