AN INTRODUCTION TO THIS MAGICAL FRUIT…
DID YOU KNOW?
Coconuts are not really nuts…they are drupes. Now what is a drupe, you ask? They’re fleshy fruits with a central stone that houses the seed. Generally, young coconuts are used as fruits while mature coconuts are used as seeds. Juicy and creamy, fresh and invigorating, humble and sometime hairy…who cannot love the coconut?
Nobody knows exactly when the first coconut popped out from a palm tree, but specialists say that the oldest coconut fossils were found up to 55 million years ago in Australia and India.
Comfortably growing along the coast between 26 degrees north and 26 degrees south of the equator, they serve as a dietary staple for nearly a third of the world’s population.
Coconuts are multipurpose props and good samaritans. From acting as lifesaving buoys for lost survivors at sea, foolproof housing for octopi, and offering their flesh as last minute sunscreen for vacationers…they are a truly a unique demonstration of nature’s innovation!
But you don’t have to be stranded on a desert island to enjoy them. They’re widely distributed all over the world.
Coconuts are mother earth’s pre-packaged nutritional cocktails. Rich in electrolytes and lauric acid (giving it anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral attributes), they have direct applications in ancient traditions and modern medicine.
Coconuts are a valuable resource. They provide us with water, food, construction material, and even sustainable materials and energy! The coconut can literally be stripped apart and each component, from husk and fiber to natural extracts can be made into something useful!
So how does the 21st century human enjoy coconut benefits?
Coconut Water: If you are thirsty, choose a young coconut, as they have more water than mature coconuts. You can tell by weighing it in your hand; the heavier it is, the more water content it has. Young coconuts (‘tenders’) contain anywhere from 250 to 1000ml (1 to 4 cups) of coconut water (liquid endosperm)! As coconuts mature, the water content lessens and the endosperm eventually becomes thick and hard. The water may develop a slightly bitter taste. It is best to drink coconuts immediately after opening them, as the nutritional value drops drastically upon contact with oxygen. If you leave coconut water in the fridge, it will start to develop a sour taste over a couple days.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is made from is abundant (about 60%) in medium-chain fatty acids, which means they have 6 to 10 carbons in the chain. Most fatty acids in Western diets are long chain, which have 12 – 22 carbons in the chain. Due to their shorter length, medium-chain fatty acids are more water soluble, and don’t need bile to break down. They enter the blood stream faster and are taken straight to the liver to be used as an immediate source of energy. The ratios of the medium-chain fatty acids in coconuts are: 55% C8 (caprylic acid), 42% capric acid), 2% C6 (caproic acid), and 1$ C12 (lauric acid).