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Nutrition and Health Aspects of Coconut

Abstract

Coconut provides a wide spectrum of human consumable products such as oil, kernel, tender nut water, toddy, neera, coconut sugar, immature inflorescence and haustorium. Despite enormous beneficial utilities of coconut oil, many believe that it increases blood cholesterol level, thus promoting the risk of cardiac diseases. There are enough research results to indicate the health benefits of coconut oil because of its unique fatty acid composition. Wet processing of fresh coconut kernel yields virgin coconut oil (VCO) which is very nutritious and has important health-promoting properties. Coconut oil has antibacterial, anti-protozoan and antiviral properties because of the medium chain fatty acid (lauric acid) it contains. Apart from coconut oil, coconut kernel contains many beneficial factors. Coconut kernel protein possesses cardioprotective and antidiabetic properties. Dietary fibre isolated from coconut kernel has significant hypocholesterolemic effect, and its hemicellulose component is responsible for the cholesterol-lowering action. Research indicates that tender coconut water (TCW) and mature coconut water can reduce the occurrence of lifestyle diseases. TCW consumption reduces the risk of heart disease and has significant hypocholesterolemic, antioxidant and antithrombotic effects. Furthermore, hypoglycaemic effect of mature coconut water has been reported in diabetic rats. Neera tapped from coconut inflorescence enhances digestion and has a low glycaemic index. Studies indicate that immature coconut inflorescence can lower blood glucose in diabetic rats. Coconut haustorium possessing significant cardioprotective and antioxidant properties is underscored. This chapter draws attention on the health benefits of coconut products evidenced through systematic scientific approach.

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Rajamohan, T., Archana, U. (2018). Nutrition and Health Aspects of Coconut. In: Krishnakumar, V., Thampan, P., Nair, M. (eds) The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera L.) - Research and Development Perspectives. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-2754-4_15

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