Coconut known as “nariyal” in hindi is a fruit which belongs to the Cocos nucifera (1) palm. known for its great versatility as seen in the many uses of its different parts and found throughout the tropics and subtropics. Coconuts are different from any other fruits because they contain a large quantity of water and when immature they are known as tender-nuts or jelly-nuts and may be harvested for drinking. There are lot many health benefits of coconut discussed here.
Coconut benefits for skin, hair and health benefits of coconut
Health Benefits of Coconut
It improves the insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose. It controls diabetes by positively affecting the hormones for blood sugar control. This slows down the rise in blood sugar level and helps to reduce glycemic cravings.
People who consume coconut daily are healthier when compared to those who don’t. In some countries it is a dietary fiber that people have thrived on for many generations (2).
It helps to increase energy by burning fat. People who consistently use coconut products have a stronger ability to go without eating for several hours with no effects of hypoglycaemia and attains maximum health benefits of coconut. It also promotes healthy thyroid function and helps to relieve the symptom of chronic fatigue.
Treat abdominal fat
Coconut benefits helps in treating dangerous fats in the abdominal cavity. Abdominal fats are the most dangerous of all the fats and are associated with various diseases.
Coconut nutrition is excellent for the immune system. It is antiviral, antifungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-parasitic. Intake of coconuts oil can help the body to mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria that cause illness (3).
It is high in dietary fiber. Coconut fiber slows down the release of glucose and transports it to the cell where it is converted into energy.
Coconut nutrition has also proven to have anti-cancer properties. It is especially beneficial to treat colon and breast cancer.
Coconut water contains crucial electrolytes that help in maintaining hydration. It is a better alternative to water as it is tastier than plain water and is loaded with nutrition.
Health benefits of coconut is best known in treating epilepsy in children. The diet involves eating little carbs and large amounts of fat which can lead to increased concentrations of ketone bodies in the blood. This diet can dramatically reduce the rate of seizures in epileptic children.
Beneficial during pregnancy
Coconut water is sterile and is very good for pregnant ladies. It improves the immunity and health of the mother and baby and prevents infection and other diseases. It also boosts the levels of amniotic fluid to improve the overall health of the fetus.
Healthy bones and teeth
Eating coconuts regularly supports the development of healthy bones and teeth. It improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium and manganese which aid bone development.
Benefits of coconut for skin
Effective on dry hands
Extra virgin coconut oil benefits can also be used to treat dry and parched hands. Regular dish washing often dries out the skin and makes them unsightly. Apply virgin coconut oil on the hands to get beautiful and smooth hands.
Coconut oil, if used on skin prevents dryness and flakiness and keeps it moisturised and supple. It also supports the skin and works to repair the damage it has acquired over time. Use of coconut malai cleanses and neutralizes the toxins, fungi and bacteria on the outer layers of the skin which not only detoxifies but also builds the skin’s natural immune system and protection (4).
Eating it hydrates the skin and makes it youthful and supple. Take a teaspoon of raw, uncooked coconut oil and massage the skin with it. This will minimize the outbreaks of skin, rashes and irritations and will beautify the skin from inside when taken internally.
Promotes blood circulation
Eating coconut regularly boosts oxygen in the skin and promotes blood circulation. This allows proper breathing of the skin and promotes healthy and flawless complexion.
Reverses effect of tanning
Health benefits of Coconut water helps to reverse tanning. Mix fullers earth with coconut water and apply it all over the skin. Leave it for 20 minutes and then wash it off with cold water. Apply this face pack twice weekly to get a tan free skin.
Removes eye makeup
Coconut oil can also be used to remove eye makeup. Put a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and wipe your eyes with it. It effectively removes the tough eye makeup by breaking down the ingredients in the eye makeup.
Treats oily skin
Coconuts water washes away excess oil from the skin and keeps the skin tone more even. water is also very effective on acne, black spots and blemishes. Make a face pack by mixing half a tsp of turmeric, 1 tsp of sandalwood powder and coconuts water. Apply it on the face thrice weekly to get clear and glowing skin.
Mix some coconut oil and a cup of brown sugar and stir well. Finally scrape the shell, add a few drops of essential oil and mix it. You can also mix 1 tbsp of coconut water and lentils to make a paste. Rub it gently on the face for 2 minutes and then wash off.
Benefits of coconut for hair
Prevent scalp infections
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconuts protect the scalp from dandruff, lice and itchy scalp which often slows down the hair growth.
It can also help you to get shiny and silky hair. The Vitamin K and iron content in health benefits of coconut maintain the health of the hair and impart shine to it (5).
Ways to have coconut in diet (coconut recipes)
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconuts
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
3 to 4 cardamoms, crushed to powder in a mortar-pestle
½ tsp rose water (optional)
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
2 to 3 tsp ghee
1 pinch of saffron, crushed or 2 to 3 pinch of saffron powder (optional)
8 to 10 cashews, halved or chopped (optional)
- Warm the milk first in the microwave or gas.
- In a bowl, take the desiccated coconut and mix warm milk with it.
- Stir well. Cover and keep aside for 1 hour, if using fresh coconut, then no need to soak in warm milk.
- Heat ghee in a pan. Add the milk soaked coconut. Saute on a low flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Now add the condensed milk and stir. Cook on a low flame stirring often.
- Add sugar if you want. Then add cardamom powder. Continue to cook and stir. burfi mixture will thicken slowly.
- Keep on stirring so that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Ghee should start releasing from the sides of the mixture. You will see tiny drops of ghee and it will takes about 22 to 25 mins on a low flame.
- Add rose water if using and stir.
- Then pour the coconut burfi mixture in a greased tray and let it cool completely.
- Sprinkle saffron powder or press some cashews on the top. Slice the burfi and then serve. burfi can also be refrigerated. It stay good for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Coconut chicken masala
1 kg chicken, washed and cut into medium sized pieces
1 large onion finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp coriander powder
2-3 green chillis slit length wise
1 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
fresh coriander leaves for garnish
salt to taste
1 1/2 tbsp-2 tbsp oil
Make a paste:
1 large onion
3-4 green chillis
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves
10-12 mint leaves
10-12 cashew nuts, soaked in 2-3 tbsps milk for 15 min
- Marinate the chicken in coriander powder, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste, 2 slit green chillis and few mint leaves for 10-15 min. Soak the cashew nuts in 2-3 tbsps milk for 10-15 min.
- Make a paste of onion, green chillis, grated coconut, coriander leaves, mint leaves and cashew nuts. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a cooking vessel, add the green chillis and chopped onions and saute till transparent.
- Add the marinated chicken and cook on high heat for 4-5 min, combining the ingredients once in a while.
- Reduce to medium heat, add the ground paste and salt and combine well. Let the chicken cook in this paste for 8-10 min, uncovered. Cook till oil separates. There is no need to add water as the chicken cooks in its own water.
- Finally add the garam masala powder, combine well and remove the contents to a pressure cooker. Pressure cook the chicken for 3-4 min or upto one whistle. Turn off heat and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with white steamed rice, biryani or chapatis.