Coconuts: Why They're More Than Just A Tropical Treat

Photo Credit: EcoWallPapers.net

Photo Credit: EcoWallPapers.net

The Coconut is one of those delicious treats that we normally reserve for summer smoothie cocktails on vacations, but the nutritional and health benefits of this incredible drupe (also categorized as a seed and a fruit), last beyond the hot summer months. In fact, Wikipedia says that the word "coconut" has it's roots in the 16th century Portuguese and Spanish word coco which means, "head" or "skull", because of the resemblance to a skull with it's 3 indentations on the shell that look like facial features-perhaps pointing us to the great benefits it offers the body everyday.

This water dense drupe offers an array of benefits that we can reap! Including it into our daily diet and lifestyle habits, will not only increase our energy, but it can also boost our immune system for the upcoming cold and flu season, provide rich cleansing, anti-aging, hydrating oils and minerals for our skin, teeth and hair, and fight fat.  As a nutritionist, Coconut is a staple in my daily regiment and is a base ingredient in many of our Meals That Transform recipes - but why should you include it in yours?

Below, I have included 5 properties about Coconut as well as some additional research from other field experts supporting the health benefits to the body, that might both surprise and inspire you to include more of this tropical treat into your daily habits:

1. Free Radical, Anti-Oxidant Fighting Super Food:  An Anti-oxidant is defined by Dr. Mercola as the following: "A class of molecules that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of another molecule. Your body naturally circulates various nutrients in your body due to their antioxidant properties. It also manufactures antioxidant enzymes in order to control free radical chain reactions.  Some antioxidants are produced by your body, but some are not. In addition, your body's natural antioxidant production can decline as you age.  Antioxidants play a significant role in your health, as they can control how fast you age by fighting free radicals." 

2. Cell Regeneration Supercharger: Livestrong.com says, "Coconut oil contains vitamin E, an antioxidant beneficial to the skin. Its healing reputation comes in part from the antimicrobial properties of its medium-chain fatty acids." Although research is ongoing, current studies suggest that cell regeneration might be greatly improved for skin discoloration and irritation.

3. Anti-Bacteria Superhero: According to TheTruthAboutCancer.org "50% of coconut water is Lauric Acid which is found in breast milk and is beneficial in deterring parasites, bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and viruses" both internally and externally - which may also help in fighting off cancer causing cells.  Either way, the right amount of coconut water will definitely help you stay more healthy heading into cold and flu season.

4. Belly Fat Fighter: Coconut oil is easy to digest and nutrient rich making it awesome for your body's digestive system to process. Coconut oil acts as a thermogenic in your body, which means it heats up in your body once ingested, creating more fat burning energy and aiding in burning down the harmful belly fat that crowds vital organs.  According to AuthorityNutrition.com, "The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil have been shown to increase calories burned over 24 hours by as much as 5%, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term." This makes coconut oil an essential fat fighter! 

5. Super Sun Protector:  Coconut oil has an SPF of 4.  What does this mean? According to ChiroHealthRockford.com, "An SPF is a measure of how much UV radiation is blocked. Coconut Oil has an SPF of 4, which blocks 75% off UV radiation. 75% protection is about 45 minutes of sun exposure. An SPF 15 blocks 94%, an SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF of 40 blocks 98%."  Coconut oil allows enough protection to the skin without robbing it of vitamin D - which is vital for fighting free radicals and boosting our immune system.  So, basically a coconut oil sunscreen, not only hydrates your skin, but allows the sun to do it's job within your body while still keeping the harmful UV rays out-just be mindful of how long your are in the sun after applying and definitely reapply after 45 minutes to make sure you can keep the harmful rays out! 

If you are looking for more ways to incorporate Coconut into your daily health and body regiment, stay tuned.  I will be sharing more great benefits of my favorite drupe throughout the month!

In the meantime, here is one of my favorite DIY Coconut based body lotion recipes featured for audiences on ABC4UT: (click on the title below to see the segment)

Whipped Coconut Body Butter
Ingredients
1 Cup unrefined coconut oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil (optional)
A few drops of your favorite essential oil
Directions
1. Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl. (You do not have to melt the coconut oil first.)
2. Mix on high speed with a wire whisk for 6-7 minutes or until whipped into a light, airy consistency.
3. Spoon the whipped coconut oil body butter into a glass jar and cover tightly. Store at room temperature, or in the refrigerator if your house is so warm it melts the oil.

Note: Your whipped coconut oil should stay relatively soft, even at colder temperatures. I noticed mine beaded into a froth of tiny coconut oil pearls that melt right into my skin.

-Angela