Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Importance of the Coconut in Daily Life

Our friends on the Coconut Board of Jamaica sent this article along.

Information complied by John Kohler

COCONUT WATER ... did you know.....

Coconut Water contains organic compounds that help to:

- Keep the body cool and at the proper temperature
- Orally re-hydrate your body, it is an all natural isotonic beverage
- Carry nutrients and oxygen to cells
- Replenish your body's fluids after exercising
- Raise your metabolism
- Promote weight loss
- Boost your immune system
- Detoxify and fight viruses
- Cleanse your digestive tract
- Control diabetes
- Aid your body in fighting viruses that cause the flu, herpes, and AIDS
- Balance your PH and reduce risk of cancer
- Treat kidney and urethral stones
Boost poor circulation

The English named the coconut, it's first mention was in English print in 1555. The word comes from the Spanish and Portuguese word coco, which means 'monkey face.' Spanish and Portuguese explorers found a resemblance to a monkey's face in the three round indented markings or 'eyes' found at the base of the coconut. On the Nicobar Islands of the Indian Ocean , whole coconuts were used as currency for the purchase of goods until the early part of the twentieth century.

Coconuts are the fruit of the coconut palm, botanically known as coco snucifera , with nucifera meaning 'nut-bearing.' The fruit-bearing palms are native to Malaysia, Polynesia and southern Asia, and are now also prolific in South America, India, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii and Florida. The light, fibrous husk allowed it to easily drift on the oceans to other areas to propagate.

In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as kalpa vriksha, meaning 'tree which gives all that is necessary for living,' since nearly all parts of the tree can be used in some manner or another.

The coconut itself has many food uses, including milk, meat, sugar and oil as well as functioning as its own dish and cup. The husk was also burned for fuel by natives, but today a seed fibre called coir is taken from the husk and used to make brushes, mats, fishnets, and rope.

A very potent fermented toddy or drink is also made from the coconut palm's sap. Coconut oil, a saturated fat made from dried coconut meat, is used for commercial frying and in candies and margarines, as well as in non-edible products such as soaps and cosmetics.

Although it takes up to a year for coconuts to mature, the trees bloom up to thirteen times a year, so fruit is constantly forming yielding a continuous harvest year-round. An average harvest from one tree runs about 60 coconuts, with some trees yielding three times that amount.

The coconut's name is a bit of a misnomer, since it is botanically classified as a drupe and not a nut. It is the largest seed known.

If you've ever opened a fresh coconut, you will have seen the thin, opaque almost clear coconut juice or water which has a slight almond flavor. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the coconut milk. However, the water is consumed as a drink fresh from the coconut by many, and it can also be used in recipes .

Coconut Water is a natural isotonic beverage, with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood . It's the fluid of life, so to speak. In fact, during the Pacific War of 1941-45, both sides in the conflict regularly used coconut water - siphoned directly from the nut - to give emergency plasma transfusions to wounded soldiers.

Most coconut water is still consumed fresh in tropical coastal areas - once exposed to air, the liquid rapidly loses most of its organoleptic and nutritional characteristics, and begins to ferment.