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Habitat :The coconut has spread across much of the tropics, probably aided in many cases by seafaring people. Coconut fruit in the wild is light, buoyant and highly water resistant, and evolved to disperse significant distances via marine currents. Fruit collected from the sea as far north as Norway are viable. In the Hawaiian Islands, the coconut is regarded as a Polynesian introduction, first brought to the islands by early Polynesian voyagers from their homelands in Oceania. They are now almost ubiquitous between 26°N and 26°S except for the interiors of Africa and South America.
The coconut (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing up to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m long, and pinnae 60–90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly, leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word.
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The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropics for decoration, as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm can be utilized by humans in some manner. In cooler climates (but not less than USDA Zone 9), a similar palm, the queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), is used in landscaping. Its fruits are very similar to the coconut, but much smaller. The queen palm was originally classified in the genus Cocos along with the coconut, but was later reclassified in Syagrus. A recently discovered palm, Beccariophoenix alfredii from Madagascar, is nearly identical to the coconut, and more so than the queen palm. It is cold-hardy, and produces a coconut lookalike in cooler areas.
The flowers of the coconut palm are polygamomonoecious, with both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence. Flowering occurs continuously. Coconut palms are believed to be largely cross-pollinated, although some[which?] dwarf varieties are self-pollinating. The meat of the coconut is the edible endosperm, located on the inner surface of the shell. Inside the endosperm layer, coconuts contain an edible clear liquid that is sweet, salty, or both.
The Indian state of Kerala is known as the Land of coconuts. The name derives from “Kera” (the coconut tree) and “Alam” ( “place” or “earth”). Kerala has beaches fringed by coconut trees, a dense network of waterways, flanked by green palm groves and cultivated fields. Coconuts form a part of daily diet, the oil is used for cooking, coir is used for furnishing, decorating, etc.
Coconuts received the name from Portuguese explorers, the sailors of Vasco da Gama in India, who first brought them to Europe. The brown and hairy surface of coconuts reminded them of a ghost or witch called Coco. Before it was called nux indica, a name given by Marco Polo in 1280 while in Sumatra, taken from the Arabs who called it jawz hind?. Both names translate to “Indian nut.” When coconuts arrived in England, they retained the coco name and nut was added.
You can find many ways to incorporate coconut oil into your daily diet, and you will read about the science behind the diet with links to the research that backs up the wonderful truth about this incredible oil.
Today thousands of people testify that Virgin Coconut Oil has tremendous health benefits, related to not only weight loss, but to such things as increased metabolism, helping sluggish thyroids, increased energy levels, killing Candida and yeast infections, improving cholesterol levels, clearing up skin infections, killing viruses, improving digestive health, and more! All across America health care practioners, including MDs, chiropractors, nurses, nutritionists, naturopaths, and others are seeing positive results in their patients or clients when using Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil.
Cultivation:The coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and is highly tolerant of salinity. It prefers areas with abundant sunlight and regular rainfall (150 cm to 250 cm annually), which makes colonizing shorelines of the tropics relatively straightforward. Coconuts also need high humidity (70–80%+) for optimum growth, which is why they are rarely seen in areas with low humidity, like the Mediterranean, even where temperatures are high enough (regularly above 24°C or 75.2°F).
Coconut palms require warm conditions for successful growth, and are intolerant of cold weather. Optimum growth is with a mean annual temperature of 27 °C (81 °F), and growth is reduced below 21 °C (70 °F). Some seasonal variation is tolerated, with good growth where mean summer temperatures are between 28–37 °C (82–99 °F), and survival as long as winter temperatures are above 4–12 °C (39–54 °F); they will survive brief drops to 0 °C (32 °F). Severe frost is usually fatal, although they have been known to recover from temperatures of ?4 °C (24.8 °F). They may grow but not fruit properly in areas where there is not sufficient warmth, like Bermuda.
The conditions required for coconut trees to grow without any care are:
*mean daily temperature above 12-13 °C every day of the year
*50 year low temperature above freezing
*mean yearly rainfall above 1000 mm
*no or very little overhead canopy, since even small trees require a lot of sun
The main limiting factor is that most locations which satisfy the first three requirements do not satisfy the fourth, except near the coast where the sandy soil and salt spray limit the growth of most other trees (Palmtalk).
The range of the natural habitat of the coconut palm tree is delineated by the red line in map C1 to the right (based on information in Werth 1933, slightly modified by Niklas Jonsson).
Coconut trees are very hard to establish in dry climates, and cannot grow there without frequent irrigation; in drought conditions, the new leaves do not open well, and older leaves may become desiccated; fruit also tends to be shed.
Coconut palms are grown in more than 80 countries of the world, with a total production of 61 million tonnes per year.
In some parts of the world (Thailand and Malaysia), trained pig-tailed macaques are used to harvest coconuts. Training schools for pig-tailed macaques still exist both in southern Thailand, and in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. Competitions are held each year to find the fastest harvester.
Use of Coconut
Once I heard some one to say Coconut is such an amazing fruit which can quench your thrust with its sweet water and meet your hunger with its good and neutritious pulp.Coconuts are a way of life for millions of people around the world today in tropical climates. Known as the “tree of life,” the wonderful fruit of the coconut palm is rich in specific fats that have incredible health benefits. Traditional tropical populations that consume a lot of coconut oil are seldom overweight, and traditionally have been free from the modern diseases that afflict most western cultures.
The Coconut Diet picks up where traditional diets fail. Low-fat diets don’t work. The body needs a proper balance of good fats, but in recent years traditional, healthy saturated fats have been substituted with harmful trans fatty acids in the US food industry. We now know that these harmful trans fatty acids that are found in most vegetable oils are not the healthy oils they were once thought to be, and they are considered one of the major culprits in modern diseases and obesity. The Coconut Diet replaces these highly refined harmful fats with one of the healthiest fats known to mankind: coconut oil.
The Coconut Diet is a not one specific diet plan, but a way of life! Most diet plans are temporary and tell you exactly which foods to eat, how much to eat, how to count calories or carbs, etc. Statistics prove that those starting diet plans are usually doomed to failure before they even start, because while they may temporarily lose weight on specific diet plans, they will almost always regain that weight and more as soon as they stop using the diet plan. We have seen traditional people in the tropics follow these dietary principles and live very long, healthy lives with coconut oil as the main dietary oil in their diet.
The dark, fibrous shell breaks, and fragrant coconut liquid begins to ooze out. Using a sharp knife, you separate the luscious white flesh from its shell; then grate it to make rich, delicious coconut milk. The milk will add delicate flavor and a smooth creamy texture to your lentil soup simmering on the stove.
But it is not only for its taste that the coconut is valued, says The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians. Coconut is considered a divine plant in the Vedic tradition. Whenever you perform a sacred ceremony like a yagya, a coconut must grace the occasion. Thus, the coconut enjoys the hallowed status of a select few herbs and fruits-like holy basil and amla-in the Vedic tradition.
What’s in a Coconut?
A recent research study from the Department of Biochemistry in the University of Kerala states that the fatty-acid composition of coconut changes as it grows. This change in composition is being studied by scientists in many places. But ayurvedic scholars knew many centuries ago that coconut has different properties at different stages of its life.
In the ayurvedic nighantus or classical texts which talk about raw materials or fruits, the coconut is actually divided into three types of coconuts —
- Baal: tender or baby coconut
- Madhyam: half-mature coconut
- Pakva: fully mature coconut.
The Three Coconuts
Baal or Tender coconut: This type is 90 to 95 percent water. The liquid from this coconut is at its purest and most healing. It is considered the best for its cooling properties, for it is a proven pitta-pacifier. While unclogging the body’s channels, tender coconut water lubricates the dryness caused by ama. It repairs the gastro-intestinal tract, and its snigdha or sweet quality gives it a pranaropana-life-restoring-capacity.
Madhyam or Middle-aged coconut: In addition to water, the coconut at this stage has some soft pulp. Madhyam coconuts have less water than tender ones, but more water than mature coconuts. The water is slightly milky at this age. In the classical ayurvedic texts called Raj Nighantus, the middle-aged coconut is said to be the most nutritious. This type generally has more carbohydrates, protein, minerals, phosphorus, and Vitamins A, B, and C than the other two forms.
Mature or Pakva coconut: This type of coconut has firm “meat” or pulp, and very little water. Ancient ayurvedic scholar Bhav Mishra wrote that when a coconut becomes mature, it becomes heavy to digest, and it can also aggravate pitta or vata if the digestive agni of the individual is low. Mature coconuts can also build up toxic ama by interfering with digestion. If large quantities of this variety are consumed daily, then a person can suffer hyperacidity, and worse still, elevated cholesterol levels.
Therefore, people who have low agni or digestive power are not advised to eat mature coconut, unless it is combined with ingredients that balance its negative properties. In the south of India, for instance, a popular way to eat coconut is in the form of chutney. Combined with healthful ingredients like roasted chickpea flour, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and oil, the coconut is used in smaller quantities, and can actually be beneficial.
- Coconuts-A wonder food [Rudesh (Rudi) Mehta] (ecademy.com)
- coconut shell bowls (alternativeconsumer.com)
- Madonna Throws $1.5 million into Coconut Water Craze. Is It Really That Healthy? (hollywoodnews.com)
- Is Coconut Water Really Better Than Sports Drinks? (motherjones.com)
- Diet and Nutrition Facts: Milk (justslimming.com)
- Coconut Deconstructed (craftzine.com)
- Coconut Water: Nature’s Sweet, Low-Cal Hangover Relief (time.com)
- Coconuts Could Be the Next Sustainable Packaging Trend (earth911.com)
- Who wants to be a coconut millionaire? (independent.co.uk)
- Colorful Bowls Made from Real Coconuts Shells (inhabitat.com)