Coconuts are a staple in many tropical cultures and diets, and when fully utilized, they can be found in home construction, clothing, pharmaceuticals, body products, and other household items.
Botanically speaking, the coconut fruit is referred to as a "drupe," but more commonly called a pod a "nut," and the three types of coconuts are baby green coconuts, half mature coconuts, and fully mature coconuts. The outside fibers, husk are used for ropes, fabric, and clothing. The soft inner meat is eaten alone or used in cooking processes, and the plentiful water inside the green coconuts is high in electrolytes and potassium and is a delicious beverage and cooking liquid. As the coconut ages the amount of water inside lessons, the meat becomes firmer, and can be eaten alone or is made into flour, coconut milk or cream, and coconut oil which is used in cooking and found in many health, beauty and hair products. Finally, the hard-outer shell is utilized for bowls, utensils, and drinkware.
Ayurvedically speaking coconuts are known as kalpavriksha or the tree that gives everything, and besides being a highly regarded food source, it has a special status in Vedic traditions used in many religious and spiritual ceremonies. Their medicinal qualities and energetics are; sweet in taste, with a cooling and heavy nature, and a sweet post-digestive effect on the body, mind, and spirit. It balances Pitta and Vata but in excess can aggravate Kapha.
From a Western perspective, coconut is considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They have a low glycemic (sugar) index, are alkaline (non-acidic) in nature, are gluten free, and contain healthy saturated fats and fiber. Additionally, they contain protein, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium and have the bio-medical actions of being anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral. Coconut is considered the easiest fat to digest because of its smaller molecular size can premeditate the cells more quickly and the live can process the fats more quickly converting it to energy and not be stored as fat.
There has been much confusion and controversy about the consumption of saturated fats in our diets, which coconut oil falls into. The American heart association recommends the overall reduction of saturated fats when applicable due to illness or disease, but their overall belief is that an adult male can ingest 30 grams of the oil per day (2 Tablespoons) and for women 20 grams, about (1 ½ Tablespoon). They also claim that ingesting coconut oil is one of the best ways to enhance the immune system, protect the liver, and reduce inflammation, which is believed to be the root cause of heart disease.
Coconut oil has a firm texture when cold because the smaller molecules, but liquefies when it reaches 78 degrees. In terms of cooking it has a smoke point of 350 degrees, making it an excellent oil for sautéing, sauces and baking. These smaller molecules are also beneficial because they are easily absorbed into the skin, making it great for skin and scalp moisturizing.
When purchasing coconut oil be aware of the two types, the first is called "virgin," which is the most beneficial because it is the least refined and has a great nutty and sweet flavor. The second option is refined coconut oil which has gone through a process that involves heating or bleaching and deodorizing the oil, and do not have a noticeable taste or aroma, and can destroy the oil's beneficial antioxidants.