2019 Aug 30
World Coconut Day is all about coconuts. It’s a celebration for those with coconut-know how and hopefully enlightening to those yet to discover this magical fruit (not nut!). You can’t make a piña colada or a decent parippu (dhal) curry without it, its water makes a great recovery drink, and its fibrous husk, when burned, repels mosquitoes — these are just three of many excellent reasons to celebrate World Coconut Day on September 2nd.
The history leading up to world coconut day is quite interesting; in the year 1280 Marco Polo encounters the Coconut on his travels to Sumatra and jots it down in his diary calling it ‘nux indica’ or ‘Indian nut’. In the year 1971, Harry Nilsson’s song ‘Coconut’ debuts internationally telling us a story about a woman who put the lime in the coconut and drank them both. Later, in the 2000’s coconut water becomes a popular drink among the West.
One of nature’s most versatile products, the coconut plant (and its various parts) can be used for food and drink, cosmetic preparations, and decorating. Some coconut proponents even claim that the fruit’s oil can reverse dental decay — if you swish it around in your mouth for 20 minutes a day! Most of us aren’t comfortable with a mouthful of oil, no matter where that oil comes or what it’s purported to do. But we can still get caught up in the coconut craze.
Coconut in general has a lot of benefits including promoting blood sugar control, nutritious benefits, contains powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative damage and being an easy addition to our diet ( shaved flakes, milk, oil etc) .
As Sri Lankans, from our very own childhood days Achchi has been squeezing fresh coconut milk to make delicious fish curries and Amma has never failed to do her Sunday ritual of applying coconut oil on our heads. Apart from using oil for cooking, this super ingredient has tons of other benefits:
- Lowers cholesterol
This super food is loaded with saturated fats that actually raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease. “Interestingly enough, the boosting of HDLs is actually greater than the boost of Total Cholesterol or Total LDL. Ultimately, healthy clinical ratios like Total Cholesterol:HDL and Triglyceride: HDL, LDL:HDL improve,” Dr. Alex Rinehart, a chiropractic physician and owner of Arizona Nutrition Center in Goodyear, Ariz., told Medical Daily
- Weight Loss Aid
The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil can speed up energy usage compared to other fats. The MCTs in coconut oil, according to Rinehart, digest as fast as sugar in the body. A 2011 study published in National Center for Biotechnology Information Pharmacology found a reduction in waist circumference of 1.1 inches after four weeks of 1 ounce of coconut oil per day. The participants did not exercise or go under a restrictive diet.
- Moisturizes skin
Coconut oil can be used as a skin moisturizer because of its vitamin E content and its positive antioxidant action in the body. This helps stop the damage to the tissues in the body since oxidation is a major source of skin aging. Its anti-microbial properties can also be useful with things like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and staph infections. Dab a few dots of virgin coconut oil after your hot shower and watch it soak up and leave you with plump and soft skin! Although not as strong as your 3000 LKR sunscreen, a study found that coconut oil blocks about 20% of the sun’s UV rays. Yippee more benefits!
- Cook safely at high temperatures
Coconut oil has a very high saturated fat content. In fact, about 87% of its fat is saturated .This feature makes it one of the best fats for high-heat cooking, including frying.
- Improve your dental health
Coconut oil can be a powerful weapon against bacteria, including Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria in your mouth that causes dental plaque, tooth decay, and gum disease. In one study, swishing with coconut oil for 10 minutes — known as oil pulling — reduced these bacteria as effectively as rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Improves brain function
The MCTs in coconut oil are broken down by your liver and turned into ketones, which can act as an alternative energy source for your brain. Several studies have found MCTs to have impressive benefits for brain disorders, including epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.
- Protect your hair from damage
Only coconut oil significantly reduced protein loss from hair when applied before or after shampooing. This result occurred with damaged as well as healthy hair. Researchers concluded that the unique structure of lauric acid — the main fatty acid in coconut oil — can penetrate the hair shaft in a way that most other fats can’t.
- Remove stains
Coconut oil can be used to get rid of stains, including spills on carpets and furniture. Combine one part coconut oil with one part baking soda and mix into a paste. Apply to the stain, wait five minutes, and wipe away.
- Natural deodorant
While sweat itself has no smell, the bacteria living on your skin can produce undesirable odors. Coconut oil’s strong antibacterial properties make it a great natural deodorant that contains no chemicals. You can find many easy recipes for deodorants made with coconut oil and other natural ingredients online.
- Heal ragged cuticles
Coconut oil can be used to improve your cuticles, including hangnails. Simply apply a small amount of coconut oil to your cuticles and massage for a few moments. Do this several times a week for best results.
- Remove makeup
Instead of using tons of chemicals to do the exact same job , use this natural ingredient to give effective results after that insane Friday night with your crew ! Apply with a cotton pad and wipe gently until all traces of makeup are gone.
- Soothe chapped lips
Coconut oil makes an ideal natural lip balm. It glides on smoothly, leaves your lips moist for hours, and even provides some protection from the sun.
- Make homemade salad dressing
Commercial salad dressings are often loaded with sugar and preservatives. Coconut oil makes a delicious addition to healthy, homemade salad dressings.
Bottom line – coconut oil is a multitasker and has a hefty list of benefits, both health and practical making its stand that it needs to be a standard ingredient present in our kitchens (and makeup) shelves. Case closed!
Enjoy your coconut day with some fun activities like cracking open a coconut and enjoying its water for a refreshing drink, try your hand at cooking achchis famous prawn curry or throw a fun Tiki party with family and friends ! Enjoy!