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It’s a fruit…ya nut!

Most of us have a favorite movie, or at the very least, a select few that we enjoy watching. One of my absolute favorite movies is Cast Away with Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt. It’s one of those films that grabs you, sucks you in, and creates tears, fear, suspense, and everything in between. I’m a sucker for an emotional movie! Now that I am studying health and wellness in depth, I can’t help but think of those scenes in Cast Away where Tom Hanks is forced to turn to nature for survival. He could not have lived without the plants and various living creatures which nourished him and provided him with shelter. I’m not sure if you remember, but there is one scene in particular that I find interesting. It’s almost like a tutorial on film because it’s so accurately true! Not long after he is washed up to the deserted island, he finds coconuts and tries with all his might to open one. After a few failed attempts he figures out how to extract the water from a coconut to quench his thirst. Yes, Chuck Noland drank this water for survival. But did you know that coconuts contain numerous vitamins, minerals, and nutrients which help keep our bodies healthy? Let’s explore this in greater detail.

The Coconut

Coconut palm trees grow right at the beach. Most consider it a “nut”, but it is technically a fruit. The coconut has numerous medicinal and nutritional benefits. It is an excellent source of lauric acid (LA), an essential medium-chain fatty acid which many people lack today due to the use of cheap vegetable oils in its place. When there is lauric acid in the body, it is converted to monolaurin, which exhibits powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Monolaurin is effective against fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm, and even targets viral infections such as herpes, influenza, measles, and HIV. Without ample lauric acid in the body, these benefits are lost. Thankfully, the coconut is an amazing source and is widely available to us.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of the few plant sources of lauric acid which enhances brain function and the immune system. It is a proven antimicrobial agent, and it is more than 50% medium-chain fatty acids, the type which are not stored as fat. Instead, the body metabolizes them into energy! Despite the fact that it is a highly saturated fat, coconut oil does not raise blood cholesterol levels, and it is a great, even essential healthy fat for everyone. Additionally, it is a superior source of healthy fat for vegans, who often lack medium-chain fatty acids. One item I absolutely cannot live without in my house is coconut oil. Be sure to purchase the highest quality: organic, cold-pressed, and extra virgin. This type holds onto its properties and will be most beneficial for you. I add coconut oil to my smoothies, use it as a skin moisturizer, “butter” my toast with it, cook with it (*it is the most stable cooking oil and will not turn rancid at high temperatures like cheap vegetable oils do), and I even use it for ear aches. The possibilities are endless with coconut oil, and it’s healthy, so go to town!

Coconut Water

Coconut water is the liquid found inside young coconuts before they mature. It contains the perfect combination of sodium and potassium for balancing electrolytes, and can be thought of as “nature’s energy drink”, as it is a great natural alternative to commercial sports drinks.

I keep coconut water in my fridge for an after workout thirst quencher, or for smoothies. Here is a tasty electrolyte balancing smoothie recipe, for recovery after a run on a hot summer night:

8 oz coconut water

½ cup organic strawberries (fresh or frozen)

½ cup organic mangos (fresh or frozen)

Few ice cubes if needed

Blend to desired consistency and enjoy

Now that you know a bit more about the coconut, I encourage you to use it in your home. Not only is it highly beneficial, it is tasty too! Hey, it kept Tom Hanks alive on a desert island didn’t it?

Contributor: Andrea MacLaughlin – Hair Designer / Health Advocate