Case # 101: Coconut Chaos
A couple of decades earlier, under Section 111 of the health & nutrition penal code, coconut was defamed and found to be guilty of contributing to ill health because of its high saturated fat content. The accused was thus sentenced to a lifetime banishment from plates across India.
Now, wait let’s crack open this case.
Is coconut really guilty of all the heinous crimes that it was convicted of? Definitely not! Let’s look at why the coconut is back with a bang.
Every part of the humble coconut; be it the coconut meat called copra, water (tender coconut water), milk or oil, has nourished Indians long long before the West became interested in it. However, all of a sudden the coconut was condemned as its oil was touted as an artery clogger due to its saturated fat content. Consequently, the coconut pretty much became extinct from Indian food plates.
It is not hard to see that the accused was framed for the crime of his evil twin – the hydrogenated coconut oil. This fellow creates health havocs with trans fat. The refined coconut oil too, which is extracted from chemically bleached and deodorized coconut meat, is equally bad.
On the other hand, unrefined, virgin coconut oil does contain saturated fat, but of the good kind. It mainly contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that boost metabolism and increases satiety. One of the main MCTs in coconut oil, Lauric acid, offers antimicrobial action and surprise, surprise coconut oil actually improves heart-related risk factors like cholesterol and triglycerides. Coconut oil also nourishes the hair and skin and is found beneficial for brain disorders and diabetes.
But why just look at the oil. The tender coconut water is a natural thirst quencher that effectively replenishes fluids and electrolytes. In fact, it is comparable to sports beverages. Coconut water is also said to help with the battle against diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney stones. But again not the one from bottled or branded water with added sugar, sweeteners or flavors but the natural and fresh form. And last but not the least, coconut milk whose benefits parallel that of the oil.
Why leave the fresh coconut meat? Did you know that that the fresh coconut meat contains a huge amount of fiber? 100g of fresh coconut kernel contains nearly 11 g of fiber which is about half your daily requirement of fiber!
If coconut was as bad as it was portrayed then certain populations who survived purely on coconut should have been sick because of it. But that’s not the case, if you don’t believe our ancestors, especially the South Indians then turn the globe and have a look at the Tokelauans and the Kitavans. It’s just that we forgot the other elements that contributed to ill health.
So in a nutshell, the coconut was just a victim of scattered anecdotal evidence and hearsay and now thanks to sound scientific evidence, it has made an envious-worthy come back rising above all the damning accusations.
Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and/or diet.