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Coconuts – Benefits & Drawbacks Print E-mail

Amongst Allah’s favours to mankind is the coconut palm, almost every part of which can be used by humans. This is acknowledged in Sanskrit, for example, in which it is called kalpa vriksha (the tree which provides all the necessities of life). In Malay, it is pokok seribu guna (the tree of a thousand uses).

Coconut oil and palm oil are the only two plant oils in common use that are high in saturated fat. Although the oil does not contain cholesterol, the consumption of coconut oil is said to raise cholesterol levels in blood which in turn increases the risk of heart attack. The American Heart Association suggests that saturated fat intake be limited to no more than 13g a day (i.e. about one tablespoon). Coconut oil also lacks most nutrients that other nut and vegetable oils contain.  However, it has been shown to alleviate some complex skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

The coconut’s flesh contains 351 calories per 100g, more than three quarters of which come from saturated fat. The flesh contains plenty of dietary fibre, but it is a relatively poor source of vitamin E and minerals which most other nuts provide. Even though it is high in saturated fat, it is easily digestible and can assist people suffering from digestive disorders who have difficulty absorbing other dietary fats.
 
Coconut can be eaten fresh or it can be shredded and dried for use in desserts, ice creams and processed food. In its desiccated form, it has a slightly lower saturated fat content.

Coconut milk, the sweet tasting white fluid contained in the heart of the coconut, can be served as a drink, or used as a marinade. A cup of coconut milk contains only about 57 calories and about 12g of carbohydrates. The protein content in fresh coconut milk is as low as 0.7g per cup and there is less than 0.5g of saturated fat.

Coconut milk contains lauric acid which the human body transforms into monolaurin, an antiviral and antibacterial that destroys a wide variety of disease causing organisms. It is thus deduced that consumption of coconut milk may help protect the body from infections and viruses.

Coconut  cream – a rich, fatty mixture made from coconut flesh and milk - often used in oriental curries.
 
Non-Food Uses – floor mats, brushes, ropes, mattress stuffing, boat caulking, furniture, dye, etc.
 
 
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