The wonders of coconuts

Experts say coconut is rich in antioxidants and that the soft flesh inside the coconut helps to restore oxidative tissue damage. / Net photo

Coconut has vast nutritional benefits that are essential to the well-being of the body.

What you should know is that this type of fruit is used for its water, oil and tasty flesh.

Rene Tabaro, a nutritionist at King Faisal Hospital, says the coconut helps meet many nutritional requirements, and its water is low in calories, carbohydrates, and sugar, and almost completely fat-free.

It is also packed with B vitamins and proteins.

He says coconut is rich in antioxidants and that the soft flesh inside the coconut helps to restore oxidative tissue damage, and contains a source of healthy fats, proteins, and various vitamins and minerals.

Apart from that, he says coconuts are high in manganese, which is essential for bone health and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol.

They’re also rich in copper and iron, which help form red blood cells, as well as selenium, an important antioxidant that protects the body’s cells.

Tabaro further points out that coconut is low in carbs and high in fiber, thus helps in stabilizing blood sugar.

He says that the high-fiber content of coconut flesh can also help slow digestion, at the same time, improve insulin resistance, which can help regulate blood sugar levels as well.

It also contains polyphenol antioxidants that can protect one’s cells from damage, which in the long run reduce the risk of getting many diseases.

COCONUT OIL

Tabaro explains that despite its natural healing wonders, coconut oil is good for our health because of its high content of saturated fats.

For those looking into shedding off some weight, he says coconut can aid in weight loss.

He explains that although coconut oil is saturated fat, it is unlike the high-calorie, cholesterol-soaked, long-chain saturated fat.

But it is rich in a medium-chain fatty acid that can help boost metabolism and aid in fat loss.

“It is metabolized quickly and instead of fat sticking to the belly, it gets burned off as energy. It also helps detoxify the body and balances the digestive tract,” he says.

According to Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Clinic Cabinet in Kigali, one of the better-known uses of coconut oil is for cooking, adding that coconut oil is one of the most stable oils when cooking in high heat.

He explains that it does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperatures like other vegetable oils do. In addition, he says it can as well be used as a spread for baking and for making delicious raw, vegan desserts.

Coconut oil can also be used topically on the skin and hair.

Kamanzi says coconut oil can be used to nourish and moisturize one’s skin, scalp, and hair, therefore, trying it out, he says, will work wonders for anyone.

Besides, he says the oil from the coconut can be used as both food and medicine.

Additionally, the oil is high in fats known as medium-chain triglycerides, which are metabolized differently than other fats.

These special fats, he says, are responsible for a lot of the health benefits of coconut oil. 

The oil also has healthy saturated fats that have different effects than most fats in our diet.

“These fats can boost fat burning and provide the body and brain with quick energy. They also raise the good HDL cholesterol in the blood, which is linked to reduced heart disease risk,” he says.

Obesity is one of the biggest health problems in the world. While some people think obesity is only a matter of calories, Kamanzi says the sources of those calories are important too.

He says coconut oil can increase how many calories one burns compared to the same amount of calories from other fats.

Tabaro notes that coconut oil can also help kill harmful microorganisms.

“The fatty acids in coconut oil can kill harmful pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This could potentially help to prevent infections,” he says.

He adds that the oil also helps reduce hunger, thus consuming less food.

The fatty acids in coconut oil can significantly reduce appetite, which may lead to reduced body weight over the long term, Kamanzi says.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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