Coconut: A Magical Fruit For Your Health

Coconut, or Cocos nucifera, is also known as the “tree of life” to South Pacific and Asian cultures. They have long utilized the coconut’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties to maintain health and to control weight. Medical science has recently begun catching up with what these populations have known for centuries. The coconut is a delicious fruit to many and it has remarkable abilities to heal. It is anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral so it can treat a variety of ailments.  Coconut oil is used topically on cuts, burns and even for mild cases of ringworm.

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One of the main reasons coconut helps with metabolism is because of its type of fatty acid. Coconut oil primarily consists of medium chain fatty acids, or MCTs. Animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs) are made up of long chain fatty acids. Long chain fatty acids can have damaging effects on the human body. However, MCTs prevent inflammation, heart disease, and lower the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries, usually from cholesterol).

Research from McGill University in Canada has shown promise for controlling weight in the long term because of the way MCTs are processed by the body. “Perhaps the best way to lose unwanted weight (excess weight in the form of fat) is to change the type of fat in the diet to the type of fat found in the-coconut.” stated a McGill researcher. Many people are aware they should add olive oil or avocado to their diet. This newer research from McGill University has shown that consuming medium-chain triglycerides (C8, C10, C12, and C14 the type found in coconut oil) boosts fat burning. This is because it leads to an increase of endogenous oxidation of long-chain saturated fatty acids. Scientists note that this “suggests a role for medium chain triglyceride fats.” It helps control body weight over the long term.

Adding the “magical fruit” to your diet for a period of time will eventually cause your body to react to the healthy fatty acids. However, many people tend to not stick with a coconut diet long enough for it to be effective. It does take time for the body to get the benefits from the fatty acids.

Coconut is metabolized as a carbohydrate, the body’s preferred energy source. This is opposed to a fat. So the energy is available right away instead of lying stagnant in the body. This is another reason why coconut is healthy for weight loss — the body processes it faster, which means an increase in metabolism.

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Coconut is delicious either as a dessert or as part of an entrée. It is versatile as an oil, juice, or water. Many Caribbean-style recipes use it mixed with vegetables or with shrimp. Thai recipes also use coconut milk in their sauces. Four tablespoons of coconut is the serving size recommended to receive the full benefits of all this magical fruit has to offer. You may not care for the taste of coconut, but there are plenty of ways to hide it in your food. The health benefits just may be worth the extra effort.