The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. Coconut had three indentations (eyes) on a hairy nut, which resembles face of monkey. That is the reason early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means “monkey face”. Nucifera means nut-bearing. Coconut is a unique fruit, which is extremely hard from outside and soft from inside. Once a friend of mine told me that be like coconut; hard from outside so that you can be resistant to adversities and soft from inside so that you are able to resonate with emotions of others. Well, sounds good on philosophical level, but I would like to share the health benefits of coconut that I ran across.
The coconut is a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has been a source of food and nourishment around the world for generations. Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a “functional food” because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. While researching on coconut, I found an excellent source of information on Coconut Research Center. I could not believe the exhaustive list of health benefits of coconut listed on their home page. Also, the website provides nutritional value of coconut in different forms like dry, milk, oil, etc. A new study published online in Diabetes revealed that diet rich in coconut oil can keep you away from fat and also protect against insulin resistance. Let us take a look at this study:
Nigel Turner and Jiming Ye conducted study on mice by use of coconut oil at Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia.
How does coconut oil reduce body fat?
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids as compared to animal fats which consist of long chain fatty acids. The medium chain fatty acids are small enough to enter mitochondria, which are known as the power house of our cell. Mitochondria convert the medium chain fatty acids into energy, thus helping reduction in fat.
How can it help diabetic patients?
The study explains that the...
people who consume the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil can lose body fat. Obesity and insulin resistance are major factors leading to the development of Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is an impaired ability of cells to respond to insulin.
Where there any experiments conducted to prove the theory of medium fatty acids?
Turner and Ye fed mice on coconut oil and lard based diets. They compared the metabolism and insulin resistance for these mice. “The medium chain fatty acids like those found in coconut oil are interesting to us because they behave very differently to the fats normally found in our diets,” said study leader Turner.
Medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil can lead to fat build up in liver, which should be taken into consideration, especially if you are at weight loss therapy. Fat storage is determined by the balance between how much fat is taken in by cells and how much of this fat is burned for energy. When people eat a high fat diet, their bodies attempt to compensate by increasing their capacity to oxidise fat, said a Garvan release.
I think there are definite benefits of eating coconut oil, which has been in use for centuries. If you have gone to Thai restaurant, most of their curries are coconut based, which reflects older cultures new benefits of coconut. Scientist are looking into the reasons of these benefits and I believe as more medical research is conducted, we will know why our great grand fathers used fruits like coconut in their daily diet.