If you have been raised in an Indian home, there is no doubt in the fact that coconut may have been a large part of your childhood. Whether it was the quintessential coconut oil that was used to give you the most loved Sunday morning “champi” by your mother, or the ingredient in some of the tastiest dishes of Indian cuisine. There is no Indian kitchen that does not have some form of coconut in stock; whether it is in the form of grated coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water, it is still always there!
The health benefits of coconuts for the body are plenty! It contains a high nutritional value of protein (4.57 grams) to carbohydrates (6.35 grams) per serving and has several healing properties. This is one of the most important advantages of coconut oil, and one of the main reasons why people include coconut in their daily dietary plans.
Especially in South India, people are exceedingly fond of coconut owing to the major health benefits of coconuts and their versatile nature. A single serving of coconut meat is enough for your skin, hair, weight management, heart problems, and to keep you hydrated. Coconut milk is also a great supplement for people who have poor gut health and or are vegans in their dietary preferences. It has the richness of probiotics too. The primary benefit of coconut is to aid in slow digestion, thus improving insulin resistance, which in turn improves blood sugar levels, reduces stress, helps in asthma cure and maintains cholesterol levels.
Let us discuss the multidimensional advantages and health benefits of coconuts, and how it is a super product for your entire body!
- Radiant skin - As coconut oil has natural moisturizing, antifungal, antibacterial properties, you can use it as a coconut moisturizer for your dry skin to gain that radiant look. You can even use it as a DIY coconut face mask to hydrate and replenish the dull or damaged skin. Coconut oil is a deeply nourishing healthy oil, which allows it to prevent the early appearance of wrinkles and retains the youthful skin by opening the pores and letting the skin absorb more efficiently. Even coconut water is equally effective on acne, black spots, blemishes, and it also minimizes skin rashes and irritations. Coconut oil also doubles as a gentle face scrub, which can be used to clean the face by rubbing the oil in a circular motion.
- Beauty regimen - Did you know you can make your own lip gloss at home by simply mixing a little bit of your lipstick with coconut oil? Yes, you can! Coconut oil for skincare is incomparable! It can also be used as an eye cream or for removing eye makeup. Coconut oil also works magically to clean off waterproof mascara without causing any eye irritation. You can put some coconut oil on a cotton pad and gently sweep it over your eyes. The oil works extremely well for dry skin and leaves the entire area hydrated. Once you have cleaned your heavily pigmented or waterproof makeup, you can then wash your face as usual with water or with a gentle face wash if you prefer. The easiest way to utilise this ingredient is to use it as a coconut moisturiser, and apply a small quantity on your face, leave it overnight and rinse it the next morning. (Although, if you have excessively oily skin, then we would not recommend this step as it can lead to more oil secretion from the skin.)
- Immunity Booster - If you think you have consumed every “immunity booster” since the COVID-19 Pandemic struck, but are yet to consume raw coconut, then you should start now! Coconut naturally has antibiotic and antiviral traits, which boost your immunity and give your body a healthier and fitter future. It is quick to absorb and easy to digest, which makes it wonderful to consume in a moderate quantity.
- Healthy hair- Remember those good old champi days of our childhood? Whether it was hair fall, a stressful day, dry or rough scalp, hair loss, or any other hair related problems, they all had one simple solution and that was a hot coconut oil champi. Coconut is rich in vitamins and minerals, and it prevents hair loss and hair thinning. You can also apply oil before washing your hair as it reduces the amount of water absorbed by the hair shaft and does not damage the wet hair. Coating your hair in oil provides nourishment aiding in hair growth, thus resulting in softer and smoother hair, making it less likely to snag or break. This day-to-day care helps in maintaining the growth of your hair, which is glossy and healthy.
- Weight loss - Did you know that 61% of coconut is all fibre? When consumed raw, coconut helps in weight loss, as it rapidly burns body fat, increases energy expenditure, suppresses appetite, and is a great choice for low-carb diets. The good gut health and bowel movement that comes with it will help you retain that perfect shape.
- Reduces stress- Based on a recent research study, it was found that, “87% of Indian women feel stressed most of the time, with 82% having insufficient time to relax” (Chaudhari & Ray, 2019). With stress being so common in our lives, it is imperative to identify ways and means to reduce this constantly rising level of stress. Reducing stress will also reduce other ailments such as hypertension, anxiety, depression, and thus reduce the consumption of drugs and medication with various side effects and dependence.
Coconut is a valuable alternative to antidepressant drugs and could be used in the forms of meat, milk and water to reduce stress. As it is a natural product, the fear of side effects is not there. Due to its antioxidant properties, coconut milk can also be used to relieve anxiety or panic.
- Heart disease - The benefits of coconut oil extend from healthy hair to a healthy human heart too. It raises HDL, which is the ‘good' cholesterol, keeping the heart healthy and happy. Many people also believe that eating raw coconut can lower the risk of heart diseases.
- Cooking - Whether it is the fresh green coconut or the brown coconut, they are both readily available at any grocery or vegetable shop near you. Coconut and all of its forms can be used in cooking; whether it is oil, butter, sugar, water, milk, or meat, even the shell of the coconut can be used as a cup and recycled to save the environment. The leading advantage of coconut is that it is immensely healthy and delicious, so one is hard-pressed to find faults or complain about consuming it.
Recently, coconut is being used in food in a greater variety and ranger of flavours. We have moved ahead from the humble coconut chutney to the sumptuous and fancy raw matcha coconut cream pie, lemon coconut bar, low sugar coconut raspberry oatmeal, Thai coconut curry chicken, low carb coconut shrimp, low carb coconut macaroons, pancakes, omelettes, and every other Masterchef-inspired dish! You can even jazz up your most basic dishes by using coconut flakes for toppings for desserts, side dishes, or baked goods.
Nutritious and Hydrating - Coconut water contains lauric acid, which is considered equivalent to a mother’s milk. It is loaded with nutrition and is the best alternative to water as it is tastier and more wholesome in its nutritional value. It keeps you hydrated, replaces lost electrolytes, and improves the immune system.
These were some of the ingenious ways you can add coconut and all of its forms in your daily life and enjoy the myriad benefits of coconut.
Chaudhuri A, Ray M. Prevalence of stress and its relation to different precipitating factors among urban females of reproductive age group in Burdwan, India. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2019;12:495-502