Coconuts: Health Benefits of a Summertime Staple
Everything You Need to Know
by GamerFitnation on July 2, 2014 at 12:00 PM EDT


By Jen Galik

Coconuts: What used to be just a summertime and tropics mascot is now making major waves in the health industry. These days you can get your coconut fix in just about any form including milk, water, oil, and even flour. There appears to be a bit of a tug-of-war battle going on with coconuts in their various forms. One side says coconut oil is fattening and not as healthy as pure vegetable oil, the other says that it whitens teeth and can even heal cavities. Despite the controversy, many islanders who have lived off of the drupe their whole lives have given the coconut tree the title of “The Tree of Life.”

Over the next few days, we at GamerFitNation will be giving you information about coconuts and the health benefits of various uses of  the coconut. For now, here are the basics that you need to know about coconuts.

Coconut History

The name coconut is all thanks to the three indents that a coconut has on its husk. When the coconut was first discovered and named, the Spaniards thought that the three indents resembled the face of a monkey or person. The word coco means “a monkey face” in Spanish, and so the name coconut was born. Coconut trees thrive in hot, humid climates and have been a help to humans for years. Natives could use just about every part of a coconut by eating the meat and using the husks to create tools, ropes, and sometimes weapons. This handy drupe has been a staple for healthy diets long before hitting a big bang in markets.




Coconut Health Benefits


Skin Care

Both coconut oil and coconut water can be used to keep skin healthy. Coconut oil is frequently used as a massage oil that not only gives your skin much needed moisture, but helps to slow the signs of aging as well. Virgin coconut oil is a great substitute for other lotions and moisturizers because it is not as beefed up with water and suffocating oils such as petroleum. This makes sure that the skin truly gets moisturized rather than simply feeling like it has been moisturized.

Washing one’s face with coconut water has recently been used to help with clearing up acne and keeping skin fresh. According to the Benefit of Coconut Water site, the water has three crucial elements that make it good for taking care of blemished skin: antioxidants, rehydrating properties, and cytokinines. While coconut water works on rehydrating dry skin, the antioxidants and cytokinines help with promoting the healing of scars and hinder the development of new acne. Cytokinin is also one of the agents in coconut oil that helps lessen the visible signs of the aging process.

 Hair Health



Coconut oil has been found to be beneficial when used for hair care. It can be used as a conditioner to not only make your hair smooth and shiny, but it can also promote hair growth as well. Dr. Mercola has talked about studies that have shown that coconut oil can put missing proteins back into hair and thus work to repair damaged hair. Most people recommend using the oil as a pre-wash conditioner by heating up three to five tablespoons of coconut oil and scrubbing it into your hair once it is cool enough to touch. You can then wash it out of your hair in the shower. If you’re not in the mood to immediately take a shower, you can also place a shower cap over your oiled head and let the coconut oil seep in for a couple of hours before washing it out.

Recent studies and articles have also shown that coconut oil can help with treating head lice. By soaking your head in coconut oil and leaving it in a shower cap all day, you can basically suffocate the lice and comb their bodies out the next day. Be sure to use a vinegar wash first to take care of the glue that holds lice eggs to hair first.

Teeth Cleanliness

A major use for coconut oil is in cleaning teeth and treating cavities. Oil pulling is the process of using coconut oil as a mouthwash to brighten teeth and remove bacteria from your gums. You take a tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth for twenty minutes before spitting it out. Even some dentists have recognized the benefits of using oil pulling during your daily routine. The oil basically works as a magnet to pull bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances from your teeth.  It is not to be used as a replacement for brushing and flossing, but as an added health benefit to your teeth. While many have experienced success with oil pulling, others find it hard to do. Coconut oil is practically tasteless, but it can be a bit difficult to overcome the initial feeling of a glob of oil in your mouth. It does get easier as you swish it around and the oil mixes with your saliva though. It is also good to remember not to spit the oil out into the sink or toilet. Because you are working with an oil, there is a chance of it building up in your pipes and causing issues for your plumber.

Coconuts and your Immune System


Along with all of the exterior benefits of coconut products, coconut can also strengthen and develop your immune system. Coconut oil in particular is made up of a high amount of lauric acid, which is a great source of antibiotic and antifungal particles. It can be used to treat infections such as athletes foot and candida fungus as well as help speed along the healing process of minor injuries. The list of things that coconut can do for your health and immune system is huge. People at the Coconut Info have claimed that it helps with Alzheimer’s disease,  blood pressure, cancer, infection, diabetes, pregnancy, and so much more.

Coconut Controversy

There have been many controversies that have sprung up over the uprising of the humble coconut. Some of the simpler problems with coconuts spring from the high expectations everyone puts on them. With so many people getting into coconuts for health reasons, it is easy for people to expect the super drupe to solve all their problems alone. While it is true that people who live in areas where coconuts have been a major part of their diets for years are fairly healthy, many people forget that these healthy humans also have fewer processed foods in their diet and eat an array of other healthy foods as well. This leads to people putting all their hopes in coconuts alone and not changing any other aspect of their lifestyle. They then get upset when the coconut “fails” them.

Other controversies spin around the fatty and oily acids that are in coconut oil. While some claim that coconut oil can be beneficial in weight loss, others say that it causes weight gain due to the amounts of fat in the oil. There are some small levels of MTC in coconut oil, but only 10-15% is made up of MTC. MTC’s are digested and metabolized differently than regular fats, and are used more for energy than storage. However, the fact that there are so few MTC’s in coconut oil makes it controversial because the other 90-85% could potentially be stored as fat rather than used for energy. You can learn more about MTC’s and coconut oil from Sue Moore’s article here.

Coconut Recipes

Before we go, here are a couple of recipes utilizing coconuts from All Recipes.

Coconut Shrimp




1 Egg
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour

2/3 Cup Beer
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 Cup all- purpose flour
2 cups flaked coconut
24 shrimp
3 Cups oil for frying


Step 1: In medium bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup flour, beer and baking powder. Place 1/4 cup flour and coconut in two separate bowls.

Step 2: Hold shrimp by tail, and dredge in flour, shaking off excess flour. Dip in egg/beer batter; allow excess to drip off. Roll shrimp in coconut, and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) in a deep-fryer.

Step 3: Fry shrimp in batches: cook, turning once, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, remove shrimp to paper towels to drain. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Easy Granola Bars

3 Cups quick-cooking oats
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 Cup flaked coconut
1 Cup sliced almonds
1 Cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 Cup sweetened dried cranberries


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sweetened condensed milk, butter, coconut, almonds, chocolate chips, and cranberries with your hands until well blended. Press flat into the prepared pan.

Step 3: Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, depending on how crunchy you want them. Lightly browned just around the edges will give you moist, chewy bars. Let cool for 5 minutes, cut into squares then let cool completely before serving.

Edited by: Avery Osborn


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