Caribbean people fully aware of coconut benefits

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A report from the Philadelphia Tribune.

It is so interesting that in this health-conscious society coconut oil is in demand and in high regard more than ever before. We can remember back in the 1970s when we came to this country, the medical field and nutritionists would warn against the negative impact of coconut oil.

Coconut oil contains a high level of saturated fat, more so than many other oils. Heavy consumption of saturated fat can cause problems for your circulation and heart. One of the greatest positives of the saturated fat in coconut oil is that unlike the other oils, your body can metabolize it more easily and can use it for energy more quickly. This type of fat is less likely to last a lifetime on your hips because you can burn it off with moderate exercise and it can help with your good cholesterol.

Caribbean people and others who live in a tropical climate have used coconut in their diet for centuries without focusing on the negative aspects. Harry Belafonte, a famous singer who was born in Jamaica, wrote that song, “Coconut Woman” and in his lyrics he sums up, quite aptly, how we all feel about coconuts and its many uses. Most Caribbean people smile when they listen: “Coconut water, It good for your daughter, (Coconut) Coco got a lot of iron, make you strong like a lion (Coconut) …”

Yes! the good, old coconut can easily be described as God’s gift to the Caribbean. For so many people the coconut was a means of survival in that many Caribbean people had their own coconut oil production processing plants in their kitchens. Coconuts were grated, the milk was extracted and allowed to sit for about 6 hours. The cream from the coconut juice automatically rises to the top. This thick, buttery substance is skimmed and placed into a pot to simmer on low heat until the oil separates from the sweet custard. The pure coconut oil is bottled and ready for use. The custard is by no means wasted. It is seasoned to taste, then boiled cod fish is added and the end result is a dish called “run down.” This dish is eaten with roasted breadfruits, yams or boiled green bananas. Yum! Don’t knock it until you have tried it.

There are countless other products that we can remember from our childhood in which the main ingredient was coconut. The favorite coconut treats like grater cake, Busta Mante backbone, gizzardas, coconut bread and coconut drops were some of the popular snacks that also provided a means of sustenance for our families. We continue to use the coconut milk in cooking rice and peas and flavoring dishes like stew peas and rice. Festivals and public markets were not complete without glass cases of beautifully decorated coconut cakes, coconut ginger-flavored drops and coconut bread. These treats would have children eyeballing them and salivating until their parents would give in and buy them some.

The green coconut contains coconut water. This is a popular because of the vitamins and minerals that it has been proven to have. It contains electrolytes and is good for dehydration.

When coconuts mature, they change to a brown color. The husk and water is removed to reveal a large nut inside. Coconut copra factories purchase these coconuts from local farmers. The coconuts are placed in ovens and baked. The oil is extracted and used to make soaps.

It is great for your skin. My own personal experience with using coconut oil for the face happened back in May of last year. My daughter had a skin infection and we went directly to her medical doctor as soon as it developed. They gave her prednisone but that did not work. We made three visits to the doctor and nothing topical (applied to the skin) or oral (taken by mouth) that they prescribed worked. Finally, they gave up and sent us to a dermatologist. He swabbed her skin and sent it to a lab but they could not determine what type of infection it was. They gave her an antibiotic that was applied to her skin and it started to work but not fast enough. I went to church one Sunday and one of my church family members suggested using organic coconut oil. Wha’ do ya know! It worked. It was the continued use of the coconut oil that turned the infection all the way around and cleared it up. A friend of mine who works for a plastic surgeon pointed out to me that the organic coconut oil has antiseptic qualities that helped to arrest that infection and clear it up.

Now we are not saying that coconut oil will work miracles for everyone because we are all unique; but, it is something to be considered. Do your own research. Talk to your physician. Once you have gone through a process of elimination, you may want to test the waters to see if organic coconut oil could be an option for you in your beauty regimen, in your cooking and in your overall health.

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