Many of us are familiar with coconut water, coconut milk, coconut cream, and coconut yogurt, but what many people don’t know is that coconut is the only edible item on earth capable of providing the human body with everything it needs to survive. Rich in minerals such as potassium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium, coconut is also rich in vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6, iron, and fiber. Beyond tasting great in an array of meals, coconut is also beneficial for our bodies in numerous ways. Here are our nine reasons why we should consume coconut like we’re trapped on a deserted island.
Coconut water comes in all shapes and sizes, but in any form, coconut is very nourishing, as this electrolyte-filled drink is rich in iron and zinc, and helps to replenish the body after intense workouts. If stores carry only bottled versions, chose a glass bottle that can later be reused or a biodegradable container as the more sustainable choice over plastic.
2. Weight loss
Although 90 percent of coconut is saturated fat (which doctors warn us to stay clear of), an active body burns off coconut calories and—unlike other saturated fats—fatty acids found in coconuts actually help protect the heart. According to the Ceylon Medical Journal, Sri Lankan researchers claim that the human body converts medium chain fatty acids to energy, which means that while your workout burns off naughty fat bulges and you build muscle that helps diminish fat, you’re also gaining an energy boost, making your exercise more effective. Similar to avocado, healthy fat eats away bad fat. As long as we are active, coconut aids weight loss—not the other way around.
Nuts, avocado, and coconut provide healthy oils our bodies need. Baked goods and many frozen foods contain hydrogenated oil, which is trans fat. Vegetable oils tend to harden under high heat, turning to trans fat, which can cause inflammation, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Luckily, coconut oil can withstand high heat without turning to trans fat, melting at 76 degrees. Still, coconut is healthiest when consumed raw.
4. Repair your hair
Coconut “mana” (aka, butter) is an excellent choice for hair gel, especially for balding men, as hair is the last to obtain nutrients from our nourishment. Superfood mana is often made of pure, dried coconut flesh, which is applied to the scalp or taken by mouth one teaspoon a day. This substance is also an excellent thickening agent that stimulates the scalp while restoring hair to a fuller, stronger, and unbreakable form. It’s even great for companion animals! Adding half a teaspoon of coconut mana to your dog’s meals can can help with shedding and canine digestion.
By combining coconut sugar, citrus zest, and coconut oil into one effective exfoliator, skin repair becomes easy. The skin-nourishing and wrinkle-minimizing properties of coconut oil owe a great deal to vitamin E. In combination with vitamin C, one can create an exceptional exfoliating scrub. The combination of coconut oil with hyaluronic acid powder replenishes and restores collagen to skin, making it appear firmer and younger while keeping the texture of the skin moist and blemish-free.
6. Makeup remover
Coconut removes makeup easily without clogging pores, is gentle on the eye area, and repairs unmasked skin with nutrients and vitamins. Widely used after pregnancy, coconut helps lessen visible scar tissue in combination with vitamin C serum, a vitamin that coconut also contains. Coconut even makes a great lip gloss—it shines while restoring cracked lips just like chapstick, but without harmful chemicals.
Coconut is antiviral and antifungal, while its powerful lauric acid has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, making it the healthiest organic plaque remover for both humans and pets. Infuse homegrown mint into the mix for that fresh mouth toothpaste feeling as an alternative. Coconut also protects the kidneys, fights infections on wounds, and heals skin abrasions, as well as helps heal burn sports. Half a spoon of coconut oil before meals improves digestion, while killing gut fungus as well as harmful candida growth.
8. Hangover cure
Coconut might not hold your hair over the toilet, but drinking it will replenish the fluids in your body after a hangover. It also helps your immune system recover faster by keeping your kidneys free from infection.
9. Brain power
Fatty acids help contribute to brain power, and coconut is loaded with them. This is one reason why students cramming for exams should be eating coconut meat and drinking coconut water. Another reason? If we find ourselves stranded on a deserted island, we can survive on coconut by drinking the coconut water and by eating the coconut meat.
Marika is a Connecticut-based journalist and nutritionist who has written for magazines such as The Jewish Voice and Edge Magazine.
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