Coconut – Meat or milk, it has it all

Coconut is also known as nariyal or narial. It belongs to the Palm family or Areceae. It is grown all over the world. It is not actually a fruit. It is more of a drupe. Coconuts are large, and round in shape. They are not exactly circular but more of an oval shape. It has a white flesh and a husk which is very strong. The liquid in the coconut is called the coconut milk. It is highly nutritious and also very sweet to taste. It provides you a very refreshing drink in the hot summers, and is widely consumed in many of the tropical countries. It is a common sight to see people drinking coconut juice with a straw on a hot summer day.

The white flesh of the coconut is called the coconut meat. It is consumed because of its sweet taste and also carries a lot of nutrients. The coconut meat is used in many recipes, and it is one of the mainstays of most South Indian recipes. Sometimes coconut milk is also made by shredding the coconut meat and diluting it with water.

Buying tips
The coconuts should be heavy and strong. There should be absolutely no cracks on the hard shell, as the milk will lose its freshness then. The coconut has eyes, which are actually three spots on the shell. These eyes which are indented, should not be water soaked. There should not be much moisture on these eyes. Also, to make sure that the interiors are good and healthy, you should shake the coconut hard and make sure that the coconut milk inside is sloshing about. This makes sure that the coconut milk is healthy and fresh.

Culinary uses
Coconut can be used in a variety of ways. The coconut meat can be shredded into small pieces and used, or it can be grated. In South India, the grated coconut is most commonly used, though even other forms are used. Another very common form is the coconut paste. Make sure that you do not use water while making coconut paste. If needed, only add a small spoon of water. You can add ginger, garlic and other spices including green chili. This is also a must for most South Indian cuisines. It is also used widely in countries like Malaysia and Thailand. It not only adds as a thickener, but also adds flavor and sweetness to the recipe. Some of the novel and versatile culinary usages of coconut are:

  1. Coconut spread is very popular in many parts of the world. Here, the coconut meat is dried and then grinded into a paste. The meat has a high percentage of oils and thus it gives a very tasty flavor to the paste. The spread which is thus made has a high content of fatty acids which have very good medicinal benefits.
  2. The coconut meat can also be chopped into small pieces and used. A very common Indian cuisine is a prawn curry made with coconut chopped into small pieces. It is also used to make many other curries and gravies.
  3. The milk of coconut, as well as cream or coconut water is a very delicious addition to many preparations, and also acts as thickeners.
  4. Coconuts are very popularly used to make various sweets and chutneys.

If the coconut has not been opened, then it can be stored for a long time, even up to four months at a stretch. Even then, the original freshness is still preserved. Thus, after you bring the coconut from the market, make sure that you do not open it unnecessarily.

Medicinal benefits
Coconut has numerous medicinal benefits. Some of them are summarized below:

  1. Coconut tree is a tropical plant. It has a very high percentage of protein.
  2. The coconut juice helps to prevent your body from getting dehydrated. The juice offers a very refreshing drink to a person on a hot summer day.
  3. The coconut meat has many antibiotic and antiviral properties. They are especially useful in killing parasitic germs.
  4. Coconut water has a rich content of minerals, with an especially high content of Potassium and Sodium. These minerals are vital for your body, and help to make your immune system stronger.
  5. Coconut is used to make VCO or Virgin Coconut Oil. VCO is often used to treat many types of ailments or other small diseases.
  6. Coconut is said to be especially useful for children and infants. They help to cure many types of intestinal disorders in children.
  7. Coconut plays a large part in preventing many types of strokes and sun burns or rashes.
  8. Coconut contains Saline, which make it a vital cure for many cholera cases.
  9. It is an excellent tonic for sick people and old men.
  10. It also has many other uses like curing malnourishment, curing many types of urinary disorders, and also destroying many kidney stones.

Where is coconut grown in US
Coconut is not grown in many states if USA. It is grown in many parts of Hawaii and also in regions of South Florida. It is very popularly grown in places like Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, American Samoa and in Guam. They are also grown all along the Florida coast. Some coconut is also grown in South Texas, especially in the Rio Grande valley.

Nutritional and dietary information
Coconut has a rich content of nutrients. Both the coconut milk as well as the coconut meat has a high nutrient value. Below, we summarize the nutrient content of coconut:

  1. It has a high content of water.
  2. There is a rich content of fats and carbohydrates. Cholesterol levels are low.
  3. It is rich in dietary fiber and proteins.
  4. It has a large number of minerals like Potassium, Sodium, Calcium, Iron, P2O5 and Calcium Oxide.

Form all the above facts in this article you must be really excited to try out coconut. And if you have already been having it, then you must be really happy to know the large number of nutrients you have been taking in.


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