Botanists love classification. However, classification of plants can be a complicated matter for the average person. Coconuts are classified as a fibrous one-seeded drupe. A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive) and comes from the word drupa meaning overripe olive. A coconut, and all drupes, have three layers: the exocarp (outer layer), the mesocarp (fleshy middle layer), and the endocarp (hard, woody layer that surrounds the seed).
The coconut we buy in the store does not resemble the coconut you find growing on a coconut palm. An untouched coconut has three layers. The outermost layer, which is typically smooth with a greenish color, is called the exocarp. The next layer is the fibrous husk, or mesocarp, which ultimately surrounds the hard woody layer called the endocarp. The endocarp surrounds the seed. Generally speaking, when you buy a coconut at the supermarket the exocarp and the mesocarp are removed and what you see is the endocarp.
Some scientists like to refer to the coconut as a water dispersal fruit and seed. A seed is the reproductive unit of a flowering plant. From a reproductive point of view, a seed has the “baby” plant inside, with two basic parts: the embryo root (hypocotyl) and the embryo leaves (epicotyl). In the coconut’s case, if you look at one end of the coconut, you’ll see three pores (also called eyes). The coconut seed germinates and a shoot emerges from one of the pores. In addition to the “baby” plant in the seed, there is the food to kick off its life called the endosperm. The endosperm is what makes up most of the seed and, in the coconut’s case, is the yummy white stuff we eat.
To add to its impressive list of benefits, coconut oil can also be used topically on skin and hair. Instead of bathing your skin with synthetic toxic lotions and creams, coconut oil can be used to nourish and moisturize our skin, scalp, and hair. Coconut oil has been used as both food and medicine for many centuries.
Health Benefits of Coconuts
- Supports immune system health: it is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasite
- Provides a natural source of quick energy and enhances physical and athletic performance
- Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals
- Improves insulin secretion and symptoms associated with diabetes
- Helps protect the body from cancers due to insulin reduction, removal of free radicals that cause premature aging and degenerative disease
- Reduces risk of heart health and improves good cholesterol (HDL)
- Restores and supports thyroid function
- Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infection
- Promotes weight loss
- Helps keep hair and skin healthy and youthful looking, prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, and provides sun protection
Coconut meat is high in fiber and minerals, especially potassium. One ounce of shredded sweetened coconutmeat (or about 1/3 of a cup) has 130 calories, 1 gram protein, 8 grams fat, and over 3 grams fiber. It also has 3 milligrams calcium, 14 milligrams magnesium, 103 milligrams potassium, and 81 milligrams sodium