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Health Benefits of Coconuts

By Paul Rothbart

Many exotic tropical fruits have become common to people everywhere. Coconuts have been grown and consumed in tropical regions for more than 4,000 years. They have earned a place in supermarket produce sections. It's quite a chore cracking the shell to get to the sweet goodness inside, but well worth the trouble. Coconuts are great in candies and desserts and the milk and meat are used in many kinds of cuisine. But this tropical fruit offers more than just flavor. Coconuts are nutritious and can provide several health benefits.

Nutrition

Coconuts are rich in copper, iron, and manganese, all essential minerals for good health. They also contain a fair amount of protein. Coconuts are high in carbs and fats, but most of that is medium-chain triglycerides. This type of fat is metabolized quickly and removed from the small intestine. It is burned for energy and so doesn't have the lasting negative effects that other types of fat do.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are powerful plant compounds that help keep people healthy. Molecules called free radicals, sometimes collect in the body due to oxidative stress. These molecules attack cells and can damage and mutate them. This can cause several chronic diseases including many forms of cancer. Coconuts contain types of antioxidants called phenolic compounds, primarily gallic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, and salicylic acid. In addition to fighting free radicals, these antioxidants can also prevent LDL or bad cholesterol from oxidizing and forming plaque in the arteries. This can help reduce the risk of heart disease as well as cancer. Some research has also found a link between consuming coconut oil and weight loss. Obesity is one of the biggest causes of heart disease.

Blood Sugar

High blood sugar levels can contribute to type 2 diabetes. With its low carbohydrate and high fiber and fat content, coconut may help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Coconuts contain the amino acid arginine, which helps the cells in the pancreas to release the insulin that keeps blood sugar in check. In a study using rats, a group of subjects that were fed protein from coconut meat had better glucose and insulin markers than those who did not consume coconut. The coconut group also showed pancreas cells creating more insulin. There is more research to be done, but coconut does seem to be able to help control blood sugar.

Tropical fruits are exotic, fun, and delicious. Many are also very healthy. Coconuts rank up there with the best. Add some to your diet. Even just sprinkling some coconut flakes on your yogurt can make a difference to your health. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Boulder, Colo.

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