Bunch of Coconuts
by Paulette Millis
The word coconut comes from the Spanish and Portugese word “coco”,
which means monkey face. These explorers found a resemblance
to a monkey’s face in the three round “eyes” found
at the base of the coconut.
Coconuts, botanically known as “cocos
the fruit of the coconut palm. It is actually classified
as a drupe, and not a nut, and is the largest seed known.
These “nut bearing” palms are native to Malaysia,
Polynesia, and Southeast Asia, and are now prolific in South
America, India, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, and Florida.
Because the husk is light and fibrous, it drifted on the
oceans to other areas to propagate. The husk was originally
burned for fuel by the natives but now a seed fibre, called “coir”,
is taken from the husk to make brushes, mats, fishnets, and
rope. The saturated fat made from the coconut meat is used
for cooking, as well as for non-edibles such as soaps and
Fruit is constantly forming on the coconut palm, as it blooms
up to thirteen times a year. Trees yield a tremendous amount
of coconuts, sixty per tree in an average harvest, and they
produce for seventy to eighty years.
October through December are peak months but coconuts can
be found year-round in most markets. Most often the outer
husk is removed, stripped down to the hard dark brown shell.
Contrary to popular belief, the thin watery juice in the
centre is NOT coconut milk, although it is consumed and can
be used in recipes. Coconut milk is actually made with the
meat of the coconut and water. (see recipe section)
Most people pierce the “eyes” of the coconut
and drain the liquid, cracking the coconut apart with a hammer.
You may also bake the shell at 350ºF for about twenty
minutes, wrap it in a towel, and then place it on a firm
surface and crack it in several places with a hammer. Of
course you could do as the monkeys do, just fling it onto
a cement or rock surface!
The original process of making coconut oil was made from
dried coconut, pressed using heat, or it was refined, bleached,
and deodorized. The result was an odourless, tasteless, slightly
cloudy oil. These boiling and fermentation methods were not
ideal. Look for the new patented process of extraction known
as a wet process made from the milk of fresh coconuts. The
white meat of the coconuts are gently transformed into a
smooth milky emulsion through a three step centrifugal process.
When solid, it has a rich shade of snowy white.
NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL
Coconuts contain calcium, phosphorus,
iron, and some B and C vitamins. Research has revealed a
powerhouse of compounds
in coconut oil. These benefits are: 1)
medium chain triglycerides, 2) anti-microbial fatty acids, and 3) safety. Suppressed
immune system, thyroid insufficiency, and weight problems are some of the human
health concerns for which coconut oil may help.
Medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oils are digested and handled
by the body differently than other fats, and over sixty percent
of the fat in coconut oil is medium chain
fatty acids (MCFAs). Commercial MCT oils do not contain laurate, a particular
fatty acid that is in coconut oil. It is this lauric acid that is so important
for immune-suppressed individuals.
MCTs are a superior energy choice and they are digested
and absorbed quickly. This means that they are not stored
as fat tissue by the body. In fact, MCTs
have a fat-burning, or thermogenic, effect. Consequently they aid in weight
reduction because they keep fat levels down and energy levels up. MCTs also
help with digestive
problems, e.g. diarrhea, because they are easily absorbed.
Caprylic acid, one of several anti-microbial fatty acids
in coconut oil, has been used for decades as a remedy for
intestinal yeast infections as
kills potentially harmful fungi. Coconut oil contains eight percent caprylic
acid. Integrating it into the diet makes a great prevention strategy for
yeast overgrowth, particularly if taking antibiotics, as these drugs kill
good bacteria that control yeast overgrowth.
Other fatty acids in coconut oil are: capric (7%), myristic (18%), palmitic
(8%), and oleic (6%). These are all needed by the body for a range of functions
capric acid has demonstrated significant activity against Herpes Simplex-2,
Chlamydia, and HIV-1.
Almost fifty percent of coconut oil is comprised of lauric
acid, a principal fat found in breast milk. Babies’ intestines
are protected from bacterial, protozoal, viral, and fungal
infections until the immune system gains strength
from this lauric acid.
A safe, anti-microbial substance called monolaurin is made
in the small intestines from lauric acid. Dr. Stephen Byrne
states that lipid biochemists
this monolaurin to inactivate fungi such as Candida
such as Listeria, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, and viruses such
Simplex, Cytomegalovirus, influenza, measles, and HIV. How this works
is that monolaurin
inactivates microbes by disrupting their lipid (fat) membranes. Benefits
lauric acid are obvious to immune-suppressed individuals. Other sources
are butter, cream, and palm kernel oil.
Dr. Mary Enig, PhD, a well-known lipid biochemist, suggests
adding three to four tablespoons of coconut oil (25 grams
lauric acid) to
the viral load. This is comparable to the levels found in breast
Use coconut oil to sauté veggies, in salad dressings, in cooked cereals,
or by eating it off the spoon.
Canned coconut milk contains eleven grams of lauric acid in two
cups; six grams in two cups of fresh shredded coconut, or macaroons.
It is possible that the Polynesians were onto something
when they combined coconut and fish dishes, as this combination
oil and fish
oil has been shown
to decrease levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines while stimulating
For those of you who still hold those ideas about saturated
fats causing heart disease, now disproved, Dr. Mary Enig
one thing to remember
use natural unrefined coconut oil, not the old hydrogenated
oil of the past.
Coconut oil is helping many with low thyroid function.
Many of my clients over the years have struggled with depression,
to lose weight,
imbalance, mood swings, constipation, feeling cold, lack
energy, and fatigue, all related
to the functioning of the thyroid gland. We have an epidemic
hypothyroidism, meaning the thyroid is under-functioning,
but it does not show up on blood tests, as yet, as a disease
course, one needs
diet, exercise, balance hormones, etc. to improve this condition
coconut oil is an additional option.
Ray Peat, PhD, a physiologist who works with hormones,
states the surge of polyunsaturated oils since World War
interfered with the
function of the thyroid gland.
These unsaturated oils block thyroid hormone secretion, its
movement in the
circulatory system, and the response of tissues to the hormone.
Increased levels of estrogen
generally result when the thyroid hormone is deficient, leading
to hormone imbalance.
These polyunsaturated oils, such as soybean oil, are used
for livestock feed because they cause animals to gain weight.
are made up
of long chain
fatty acids, they have an anti-thyroid effect, and they promote
weight gain. One
study states they reduced the weight on swine by reducing
soy oil and substituting it with saturated animal fat.
Isn’t it interesting that people today want “lean” pork, so
the pigs are being fed saturated fats, while we continue to gain weight, often
ignorantly consuming the polyunsaturated soy and corn oils. As Peat says, “Lean
pigs and obese people...”.
As mentioned above, MCTs are known to increase metabolism
and promote weight loss. Coconut oil may also raise basal
There are reports of hormonal balance, mood stability,
stamina, overall energy, weight loss, greatly improved sleep,
raised body temperature,
all attributed to coconut oil. Experts say to take 3 to 4
tablespoons a day. It is also a great after-shower skin moisturizer.
Coconut milk replaces liquid, potassium, sodium, and calcium,
lost through sweating. So take a coconut milk-based drink
out to prevent
the muscle cramps
and weakness that can result from loss of these minerals
BUYING, COOKING, AND STORING
When buying coconuts look for a quality nut that is heavy
for its size, and when shaken you can hear the liquid slosh
as this indicates spoilage, and avoid “eyes” that
are wet or moldy.
Shredded coconut has less than three percent moisture content
and about 68 percent oil. Buy only sugar-free desiccated
all good health
food stores. These stores also carry organic canned coconut
milk, a kitchen staple! Add coconut milk to soups, shakes,
whole grain breakfast cereal in coconut milk; try oat flakes.
Cook brown rice or other grains in coconut milk for a taste
well. Try mixing
carrot juice 3:1 with coconut milk for a creamy treat. When
feeling flu-like, use one
cup of homemade chicken broth with one cup of coconut milk
for a great meal as the gelatin in the chicken stock helps
gives some fat for energy. You may also mix coconut milk
with any nut milk for a delicious combination milk.
Coconut oil is saturated, therefore very stable and safe.
It stays fresh without refrigeration and has a shelf life
Use coconut oil, in place of butter, for baking, to sauté,
melted in salad dressings, and by just eating it off the
Awesome in smoothies, or
with fresh carrot juice!
2 cups organic coconut shreds, unsweetened
4 cups very hot water
Pour hot water over coconut in a blender and let it sit
for 20 minutes. Blend for 2–3 minutes and press through
a fine sieve. Discard dry pulp. Makes 4 cups.
COCONUT TOMATO SOUP
1/4 can coconut milk
1 cup heated tomato or V-8 juice
Heat and serve.
Dr. Mary Enig
2 cups organic shredded coconut, unsweetened
4 tbsp warm pure water
2 whole eggs, slightly beaten
2 tbsp melted honey
2 tsp coconut oil
Oil a large cookie sheet with the coconut oil. Mix the
warm water and the honey together in a medium bowl. Add the
Beat in the eggs. When well mixed, form into balls with a
spoon and drop onto oiled sheets. Bake at 400ºF for
12 to 15 minutes. Yields approximately two dozen.
adapted from Tropical Traditions
Even easier than the one in my book! Use this recipe to
replace commercial mayonnaise.
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Put the eggs mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into
a food processor or blender. Using a very low speed, start
adding the oils very slowly. This is extremely important—start
out with drops and gradually increase to about a 1/16 inch
stream. It should take about two minutes to add the oil.
Continue blending until there is no free standing oil. Makes
about 1 1/2 cups. Great in vegetable dips!
from Tropical Traditions
1 chopped garlic clove
a bit of ground coriander
1/2 tsp whole peppercorn (optional)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk (canned is best)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 potato cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tomatoes cut in wedges or 1 can
some basil (10 fresh leaves)
1/2 tsp celtic sea salt
1 tsp honey (optional)
1 tbsp tamari sauce
Mash garlic, coriander, and peppercorns if using in a mortar
to form a paste. Heat oil and briefly fry the paste,
than add the coconut milk, stirring well. Stir in remaining
ingredients in order, bring to a boil and simmer until
the potatoes are
tender. Serve with brown rice. You can mash the potatoes
when tender with a fork to make a thicker sauce. I like
this for breakfast!
PEANUT COCONUT CREAM
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup organic peanut butter
Blend well and serve over brown rice, other grains, or
1/4 cup coconut oil, butter, or ghee
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Oil a large pie plate. Mix
the ingredients well and press into the pie plate. Bake 20
25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire
rack. Spoon in filling of choice.
*taken from Nutrition,
Cooking and Healing, Paulette Millis,
References: Foods that
Heal, Bernard Jensen, MD; Alive
Magazine, July 2000; Tropical
Traditions: I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch
of Coconuts, Dr. Stephen Byrne, PhD; www.passionateaboutfood.com;
The above information regarding nutritious food is not
intended to replace any instruction from medical or health
Paulette Millis lives and works
in Saskatoon as a counsellor and nutritional consultant.
Her cookbook, Nutrition, Cooking
and Healing, is available in health food stores, or
by calling Paulette at
(306) 244-8890, or visit www.geocities.com/paulettemillis.