The humble nariyal is one of the most versatile products of nature. The coconut plant (and its various parts) has many uses and benefits. It can be used in cooking, making drinks (healthy and alcoholic), skincare, and storage!
You can’t make chutney or a decent south-Indian curry without it, its water makes a great recovery drink, and its fibrous husk, when burned, repels mosquitos — these are just three of many excellent reasons to celebrate World Coconut Day on September 2.
The multifarious uses of coconut oil are healthy and exciting. When the skin is massaged with the oil before a shower, the after-effects leave your skin feeling wonderfully soft. Coconut oil also protects your skin from the harsh UV rays from the sun. It is also known to ease skin irritations and treat eczema. It also serves as a natural balm for chapped lips and works wonderfully as a eye-makeup remover! The same when applied to your hair before a wash leaves your hair looking glossy and has a velvety feel.
When used for cooking, studies show that it digesting the fatty acids from the oil can help increase your metabolism which is why it’s a big deal in sports nutrition and helps to improve an athlete’s performance.
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Besides serving as a wonderful refreshment on a hot day, coconut water also has multiple health benefits that might be unknown to many. This delicious source of hydration is a natural sports drink! It is a good way to replenish your energy levels after an exercise session.
The clear liquid is also naturally sweet with anti-oxidants, potassium and amino acids which are good for your skin and digestive health. Drinking coconut water a few times a week has its benefits. It may help with regulating blood pressure, preventing kidney stones and also improve your cardiac health.
Sometimes folks get confused when differentiating between coconut water and coconut milk. The former is found naturally in green coconuts while the latter is extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts.
Coconut milk is a great substitute for dairy products. It can be added to soups to give that creamy taste. It can also be used to make smoothies, flavour curries and bake goodies. It is also an ingredient in many cocktails when paired with vodka or rum on ice.
Coconut meat is the white pulp found inside ripe brown coconuts. A prime ingredient in south-Indian and Thai cuisine. While it is high in saturated fats, the pulp adds a unique taste to curries and chutneys.
Grated coconut meat can make a great topping for salads (fruity & veggie), stir-fries and stews. A little known tip is to mix it with crumbs of bread and coat fish or meat before sliding them into the oven, resulting in a crunchy texture on the final dish.
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Coconut butter is made from coconut pulp that has been ground to make a paste. It can be applied to the face as a mask to reduce wrinkles dry skin and age spots.
It’s one of the best foods suitable for the ketogenic diet. Coconut butter contains MCTs that will help you stay in ketosis. It is used as a topping for sweet potatoes, toast and waffles. You can also add a spoonful to your fruit bowl of sliced bananas, apples and blueberries.
Yes yes! Coconut meat can also be used to make a great flour. The meat is dried and defatted and then finely ground into a powder (it is similar in consistency to wheat flour) and is a great as a low-carb, high-fibre, gluten-free alternative to other commonly used flours for baking and cooking.
Shells and Fibre
Lastly, on Wold Coconut day it is important to note that coconut uses and benefits don’t end with only its contents. Coconut shells, after plucking all the fibres make great jewellery containers and storage spaces for little trinkets. The fibre itself is excellent for gardening purposes since it has high water retention, makes a good potting mix and resists pests.
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