Besides being the best hydrating drink, coconut offers potential health benefits due to its antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial effects.
Coconut ‘Nariyal’ in Hindi, is a stone fruit that fits all the three definitions of being a a fruit, a nut, and a seed. Also called the ‘Tree of Life’ coconut can be consumed as a drink, fiber, food, fuel, utensils and much more.
There are several species of coconut available. The taste varies according to the soil alkalinity. The outer part of the coconut has a hard shell which is green in colour which on maturity turns brown. Underneath this hard shell is the white edible meat. The freshly harvested coconut includes sweet water.
Nutritional facts of Coconut
Coconut is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. It is high in calories and is an excellent source of potassium. It also contains high saturated acids and bioactive compounds. Coconut fails to contain cholesterol. Coconut oil and coconut water are considered a superfood. Coconut water contains minerals, simple sugars, and electrolytes.
100 grams of coconut kernels contains 354 calories, 15.2 gm of carbohydrates, 3.3 gm of proteins, 9 gm of fibre, 20 mg of sodium, 356 mg of potassium, 14 mg of calcium, 2.43 mg of iron, 32 mg of magnesium, 1.5 mg of manganese, 113 mg of phosphorus, 10.1 mcg of selenium, 1.1 mg of zinc, 26 mcg of folates, 0.5 mg of niacin, 3.3 mg of vitamin C, 0.24 mg of vitamin C, 0.2 mcg of vitamin K, and 47 mg of phytosterols.
Potential Health Benefits of Coconut
Controls blood sugar levels
1. The low carbohydrate content and the high fat and fibre content of coconut help in stabilising the blood sugar levels.
2. Coconut improves insulin resistance due to the presence of the high fiber content thus, regulating blood sugar levels.
3. Coconut is known to possess anti-diabetic properties due to its arginine content. Arginine is essential for the pancreatic cells functioning, which releases the insulin hormone to regulate the blood sugar levels.
4. Arginine helps in improving the beta-cell function which produces more insulin — a hormone required to regulate blood sugar.
1. The high electrolyte content of coconut water helps in maintaining hydration.
2. The electrolytes are essential for keeping the body adequately hydrated thus, preventing dehydration.
Improves blood cholesterol
1. Coconut helps in increasing blood cholesterol levels thus, reducing the risk of heart diseases.
2. The high levels of lauric acid and myristic acid in coconut helps in increasing HDL levels.
3. The lauric acid content of coconut breaks down fat faster, preventing the accumulation in the bloodstream thus, decreasing “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Enhances weight loss
Coconut contains medium-chain fatty acids that enhance fat burning, boosts metabolism, and suppress appetite thus, enhancing weight loss.
Сoconut regulates the functioning of intestine, helping overcome gut related ailments and is also possibly the best rehydrating fluid. It is also called the fat that cuts the body fat. Immensely beneficial, coconut is an itergral part of Indian kitchen preparations.
Other possible benefits…
Nariyal produces numerous health benefits, apart from the health benefits mentioned above, it also produces few more such as supports the immune system, enhances physical and athletic performance, improves digestion, restores and supports thyroid function, protects against kidney disease and bladder infection, delays ageing, treats epilepsy, fights cancer, prevents urinary tract infection, controls acidity and heartburn.
Also beneficial during pregnancy, fights bacteria, good for oral hygiene, supports the development of healthy bones and teeth, prevents skin dryness, prevents skin cancer, promotes blood circulation, reverses effects of tanning, treats oily skin, prevent scalp infections,improves skin health, and reduces cell damage.
How to incorporate Coconut in the Diet?
There are various forms of coconut that can be incorporated into our diet. Some of the forms of coconut are coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut paste, coconut flour, shredded coconut, and coconut meal. They can be added to our diet in a variety of ways, some of them are as follows: –
- Sip coconut water.
- Sprinkled to oatmeal.
- Add coconut milk to coffee.
- Stirred into yogurt or pudding.
- Shredded coconut is used for baking.
- Frozen sheets of coconut blended in smoothies,
- Coconut oil used in baking, sautéing, or roasting.
- Coconut flour used as a substitute for wheat flour.
- Coconut oil in dishes such as stir-fries and curries.
- Added to flavour dishes such as curries, rice dishes, fish stews, etc.
How to prepare Coconut/ Nariyal Barfi?
Preparation of sugar syrup…
Take water and sugar in the same proportions in a pan.
Heat the mixture and keep continuously stirring, to avoid the sugar from sticking to the bottom.
Switch off the flame when the sugar completely dissolves and becomes thick.
Preparation of coconut burfi…
Take a thick bottomed kadai, mix 4 cups desiccated coconut, 2 tbsp khoya, and 4 cups sugar syrup.
Roast it until it thickens and obtains a halwa-like consistency.
Add 1tbsp of shredded and blanched pistachio and 1tbsp of shredded and blanched almonds.
Brush 1tsp of ghee in a tray and spread the coconut batter on it.
On cooling, cut the batter into the shape of barfi.