Monday, February 28, 2011

Healing Values of A Coconut

The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. Early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means "monkey face", because the three (eyes) on the coconut resembles the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing".

The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations.

In the Cook Islands, the coconut tree provides local islanders with lots of uses for making thatched kikau (coconut leaves) roofs, broom, trunks for posts, etc.

Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.

Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins B, C and E. Minerals: Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content.

Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Cook Islanders for many generations have been making their own coconut oil, which is grated and hand squeezed in a cloth (cheese cloth is best), and/or sun dried, and juice extracted by this method. The oil can be used for example as a hair cream.

These days there is the modern method of extracting the oil by means of a compressed machine. This natural method, which does not involve heating, leaves the oil in it's natural state. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers.


A Traditional Medicine

People from many diverse cultures, languages, religions, and races scattered around the globe have revered the coconut as a valuable source of both food and medicine. Wherever the coconut palm grows the people have learned of its importance as an effective medicine. For thousands of years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine. In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems.

In the Cook Islands language the brown coconut is called an "akari", because of it's hard flesh, which can be grated and used to make coconut oil, coconut milk, cobra, or eaten as it is. The whiter coconut is the younger of the two and is called a "nu", it has fresh drinking water, with a soft flesh.

In Modern Medicine

Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below:
• Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
• Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.
• Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
• Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
• Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
• Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
• Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
• Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
• Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
• Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
• Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
• Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
• Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
• Helps protect against osteoporosis.
• Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
• Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
• Improves digestion and bowel function.
• Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
• Reduces inflammation.
• Supports tissue healing and repair.
• Supports and aids immune system function.
• Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
• Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
• Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
• Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
• Functions as a protective antioxidant.
• Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
• Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
• Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
• Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
• Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
• Reduces epileptic seizures.
• Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
• Dissolves kidney stones.
• Helps prevent liver disease.
• Is lower in calories than all other fats.
• Supports thyroid function.
• Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
• Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
• Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
• Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
• Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
• Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
• Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
• Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
• Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
• Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
• Helps control dandruff.
• Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
• Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
• Is completely non-toxic to humans.


Precious Oil

While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine. Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and different from most all other fats and possesses many health giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.

Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth."

What makes coconut oil different from all other oils, especially saturated fats? The difference is in the fat molecule. All fats and oils are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty acids. The first you are probably familiar with, is based on saturation. You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid.

Fatty acids consist of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system you have short-chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids, and long-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids, also known as medium-chain triglycerides.

The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated, unsaturated, whether they come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids. Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are long-chain fatty acids. The size of the fatty acid is extremely important.
Because our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. So the physiological effects of  medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are distinctly different from those of long-chain fatty acids, which are more commonly found in our foods.

The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. They help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease.

By far the best sources of medium-chain fatty acids are from coconut and palm kernel oils.

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