Coconut is a fruit that reminds us of summer, the sun, and beaches. But in addition to being delicious and super refreshing, it brings numerous health benefits, in so many versions. That’s why its consumption should not be restricted to just one season!
The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the palm tree family (Arecaceae), a tropical species native to Southeast Asia. In the 17th century, the Portuguese brought some species to Brazil, where the plants found an ideal climate and soil conditions to grow. Today, it is produced virtually in all our territory, with the Northeast concentrating about 80% of all national production.
In Brazil, coconut is one of the most versatile fruit-growing products. Everything is used from it, from water, meat (white edible pulp, also called “flesh”), oil, to bagasse. Once the tree reaches maturity, it can produce up to 70 coconuts each year, making it a sustainable and fruitful crop. The coconut palm is cultivated in almost all Brazilian territory. The planted area is 187.5 thousand hectares, with a production of 1.6 billion fruits. The Northeast Region, the main national producer, is responsible for 80.9% of the country’s coconut harvested area and 73.5% of its production, also being the main exporter of coconut water.
Botanically, the coconut fruit is a drupe, not a true nut. it can nourish our body with healthy fat, protein and fiber, that helps keeping your digestive system healthy. It’s mainly made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are absorbed by the human body with less digestive effort than the larger fats from both plant and animal sources. They are also quickly assimilated, making them ideal to boost metabolism.
The water derived from unripe coconuts contains electrolytes and sugar, it is tasty and can be very efficient in keeping us hydrated on a hot summer day or even in recovering from gastroenteritis. It is rich in several important minerals, especially manganese and copper. While manganese supports enzyme function and fat metabolism, copper assists bone formation and heart health.
Coconut water can also be fermented to produce coconut vinegar. Coconut milk, otherwise, is obtained by pressing grated coconut meat, usually with hot water added which extracts the coconut oil, proteins, and aromatic compounds. Coconut meat can be treated with enzymes to separate the fiber, protein, and oil, which are all very nutritious. The remaining pulp can be dried, ground, and turned into coconut flour.