Coconuts are synonymous with island life – palm trees with huge coconuts swaying in a light breeze along a sandy coastline. Today, however, more and more
people are associating coconuts with superfood status, and are talking about the health and skincare benefits of coconut water, milk and oil.
Coconut water or juice is found in young fruit. The outer shells are still green and, if removed, the nuts look like white pods. Coconut water is slightly sweet, and very nutritious. It is often used as a replacement for sugar- and preservative-laden sports drinks, or as a thirst quencher. Because it contains high levels of electrolytes, it may assist in alleviating dehydration.
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t break open a mature coconut and have milk stream- ing from it, like you see in the movies. Coco- nut milk has to be made. This is done by grating or rasping the inner white parts – or meat – of the mature fruit, adding water to it and blending it all together. The mature fruit is recognisable by its brown and hairy outer shell, which most people are more familiar with.
Besides being absolutely delicious as a drink on its own, coconut milk is a common ingredient in Asian and Indian cooking. Being much sweeter than coconut water, it gives a wonderful aroma and flavour to food. It is also very healthy, as it contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which all have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Coconut milk is fast becoming a preferred alternative to dairy- or soy-based products, and is a delicious option if you are vegan or lactose intolerant.
Organic coconut oil is extracted from the dried coconut and is a healthier option than the un- saturated oils usually found on the shelves or those normally used in processed foods, as the extraction method does not include us- ing chemical substances. The oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids (also called medium-chain triglycerides) and is known to increase stamina, support weight loss and promote heart health.
Some oils produce toxic chemicals when ex- posed to heat, but organic coconut oil can
withstand high temperatures and does not break down easily. This prevents the development of free radicals and trans-fats, as with other oils exposed to heat. Coconut oil has a natural resistance to oxidation, as it does not easily combine with oxygen (which causes most other oils to become rancid). The oil solidifies and turns white when stored in a cold environment and can then be used as a spread instead of margarine. To liquefy it again, simply place the bottle in warm water.
Coconut oil has also been used as a carrier oil in skin care for many years. It can be used directly on the skin and hair for a beautiful, healthy-looking complexion and moisturised locks.
During winter, I often add a tablespoon of coconut oil to my bath to soften my skin, and also apply a little bit of oil directly to my face.
For hair care, use a few tablespoons of warm (not hot) oil, depending on your hair length. Massage it through the hair and onto your scalp. Using a towel to cover your head, leave it on for approximately one hour. Wash your hair as you normally do, with natural shampoo.
It’s important to look out for coconut water, milk and oil that have not been saturated with unhealthy additives. Also available in selected health stores are coconut flour and coconut sugar products.
- Creed, Sally-Ann. Coconut – milk, water and oil. Natural Medicine magazine; 2011; 72: 110-112.
- The Benefits of Coconut Water. Ezine https://ezinearticles.com/?The-Benefits-of-Coconut-Water,-Milk-and-Oil&id=6795735