Symbol of summer, coconut is the fruit of Cocos nucifera, a palm belonging to the Arecaceae or Palmae family and native to Africa, South East Asia and Oceania. It’s about a large walnuti (it can reach thirty centimeters in diameter) characterized by a hard and fibrous external part and an internal part in turn consisting of a solid portion and a liquid and sugary portion, which is reabsorbed when ripe.
Coconut is mainly used for food purposes. In addition to being consumed like fresh or dried fruit, the coconut is obtainedcoconut water, the coconut milk, the coconut flour and the butter or coconut oil, mainly used to produce desserts but not only. In the countries of origin, coconut palm is used to make additional products including wine and syrup.
There coconut it can be eaten fresh like any other fruit or dried, for example added to muesli for breakfast. The pulp of the dried and ground coconut is then obtained coconut flour, an ingredient used mainly in the preparation of desserts, often associated with chocolate to give the typical exotic taste of coconut.
The coconut milk instead it is a thick liquid, with a consistency similar to cream, which can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in the preparation of puddings and other spoon desserts, cakes, biscuits and baked goods in general. The taste of coconut milk is pleasant, very similar to that of fresh fruit and flour and, in sweet recipes, it goes well with that of chocolate and vanilla. Coconut milk is also used in preparation of savory dishes and in this case it goes perfectly with sautéed vegetables flavored with garlic and curry, with pumpkin and broccoli soups, basmati rice and chickpeas.
Finally, from the dried coconut almond a product known as coprah or copra, rich in fats, is obtained, from which thecoconut oil, used for food and cosmetic purposes. Coconut oil, rich in saturated fatty acids and fragrant, is in fact used as butter substitute when cooking omelettes, crepes and pancakes, or raw spread on bread and rusks for breakfast.
In cosmetics, coconut oil is used for its emollient, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and is useful for soften and moisturize dry skin, remove make-up from the face, detangle the hair, fight lice and defend the teeth from the attack of bacteria. Coconut oil falls within the formulation of numerous products for hygiene and beauty, including body and face creams, cleansing lotions, soaps and hair masks.
Properties and benefits
Coconut is a fruit moisturizing and nourishing, whose consumption increases the sense of satiety and brings benefits to the gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems, as well as improve the appearance of the skin and hair and to contribute to the functioning of the immune system. Specifically, coconut would help reduce blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels ea improve digestive problems which cause stomach acid and bloating. The greatest benefits come from fresh coconut which contains a good amount of vitamin C and minerals, including potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, as well as water, fiber and short-chain fatty acids.
One serving of fresh coconut is equal to 50 grams and provides the body about 180 calories. Dehydrated coconut and coconut flour, on the other hand, are free of water and vitamin C, but equally rich in minerals and lipids. In the case of dried coconut, the serving size is 30 grams for around 200 calories.
L’coconut water instead it is a refreshing, energizing and antioxidant drink, especially useful after training, to replenish the mineral salts lost through sweating, relieve the sense of fatigue and fight the stress caused by physical activity.
As for thecoconut oil, it is a food considered a superfood and rich in beneficial properties for health. Although coconut oil is high in saturated fat, its consumption is believed to have a positive impact on the body thanks to the presence of short-chain fatty acids, in particular lauric acid, caprinic acid and caprylic acid, as well as molecules with an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. A moderate consumption of coconut oil, i.e. equal to one portion per day, would in fact have a protective action against cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and would be able to strengthen the immune system by defending the body from the attack of viruses, bacteria, fungi and other pathogens.
Often the consumption of coconut oil is also allowed in low-calorie diets to lose weight thanks to its ability to accelerate metabolism, facilitate digestion and improve the insulin response, decreasing the desire for sweets. One serving of coconut oil, equal to ten grams, provides 90 calories so it’s good anyway do not overdo the quantities so as not to excessively affect the total calories consumed.