This delicious fruit has so much to give. From its healing water, refined flour and excellent sugar substitute, coconut is a superfood fit for a king.
Coconuts are wildly popular and recognized as a much sought-after superfood — the health benefits of the coconut are remarkable. Scientifically known as Cocos nucifera, the coconut provides nutritious meat, juice, milk, oil and other nutritive by products.
The word “coconut” did not turn up in historical texts until the 15th century, when Spanish and Portuguese explorers found the fruit growing in the Indian Ocean islands. They described its shell as a “coco,” or “grinning face” of a monkey; from then on it was known as the coconut.
Coconut Republic, a nonprofit organic trade organization that specializes in all things coconut, states that the coconut appears in the “early beginnings of history” but wasn’t known in the Western world until the 6th century, when it was imported to Egypt. Marco Polo, an early world explorer, recognized the coconut as “Pharaoh’s nut” when he spotted it in India on an expedition.
Origins of the coconut are relatively unknown, although experts speculate the fruit’s birthplace is the islands of the South Pacific. Interestingly, the coconut is a colonizer and is built to traverse the oceans in order to grow its population. The seed of the coconut is buoyant and likely traveled around the world’s oceans on its own, without much help from merchants and explorers.
Did you know? Coconut water’s electrolyte composition is almost identical to human blood plasma and was used during WWII as an IV drip.
Many products are derived from the coconut, including milk, water, sugar and flour. Coconut flour is a by product of the milk-making process: When making the milk, the meat of the coconut is soaked and a pulp forms. The pulp is then dried and ground into a powdery flour great for baking. Coconut sugar is produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm and is a traditional, healthier alternative to mainstream sweeteners.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in B vitamins, minerals and trace elements, including zinc, selenium, iodine and manganese. The fruit also contains amino acids and antioxidants, as well as electrolytes and potassium. Coconut touts a plethora of cytokinins, or plant hormones, which have anti-aging and anti-cancer effects in humans. They also can help reduce the risk of forming blood clots. Coconut water helps support immune function, helps to balance blood-glucose levels and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing swelling in hands and feet.
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