The summer heat is now in full swing and the tropics are most definitely calling. Tourists and residents are flocking to the coastline to take full advantage of the sun and fun family vacations. Throughout the country, newly harvested fresh fruits and vegetables can be found in both stores and roadside stands. Peaches, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, green beans, zucchini, and squash are overflowing from their fields and baskets. And while most people know that foods like kale, avocados, almonds, and sweet potatoes are superfoods, there is another more underrated fruit that is often overlooked. Interestingly enough, coconuts are one of the most nutrient-packed superfoods out there!
Now this is not the kind of coconut that is holding a sugary drink with a tiny pink umbrella while relaxing on the beach. Coconuts in their raw form are sufficient enough! Additionally, coconuts are one of the most versatile fruits on the planet. Every single piece of the coconut and its tree can be used in some way. In the Philippines, the coconut tree has long been referred to as the Tree of Life. Throughout history and the modern era, the tree itself could be used for furniture, housing materials, boats, canoes, drums, and toys for children. The leaves are used during cooking and storage in many countries today. As for the fruit itself, just as many uses can be found.
Coconuts can be easily distinguished by their hard, fibrous brown shell that protects a fragile white interior. The inside, or the flesh, can be scraped out and used while baking and cooking. Coconut flesh are gut-friendly with an abundance of fatty acids acting to fight bacteria and increase antioxidant effects.1 Because the fruit is easy to digest, no unnecessary fat buildup occurs. Instead, the body breaks down the fruit and immediately uses the byproducts as fuel and energy sources. Another energy source can be found in coconut water. Considered one of the best forms of hydration found in nature, coconut water is packed with more electrolytes than most sports drinks. Coconut water is fat free, has few sugars, and contains an abundance of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.2 Though coconut water can be consumed on its own, it can also be added to smoothies for a little extra punch.
While the coconut itself is a super food in its own right, coconut oil is possibly one of the most well-known products on the market. When used in beauty routines, coconut oil has been proven to aid in healthy hair growth by reducing protein loss and preventing hair damage.3 Dandruff can also be avoided with regular use of coconut oil on the scalp.3 Nutritionally, coconut oil can be used to increase heart health, promote weight loss, regulate cholesterol levels, relieve stress, and encourage digestive health. By promoting insulin production and helping to control blood sugar levels, coconut oil aids in the management and prevention of diabetes.3
So next time you see a coconut in the grocery store, we encourage you to check them out for yourself! Maybe try a new recipe or add a little coconut oil to your everyday routine! You might just surprise yourself with how versatile the fruit truly is!
- Link, R. (2019). 20 top superfoods to get into your diet. Dr. Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/nutrition/what-are-superfoods/
- American Society For Nutrition Staff. (2010). Coconut water. ASN. Retrieved from https://nutrition.org/coconut-water/
- Nagdeve, M. (2020). Coconut oil health benefits and uses. Organic Facts. Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/oils/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html