Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - The coconut provides an edible kernel or seed, water and oil; all three serve as a rich source of nutritious food and medicine.
The coconut is easily digested, rich in nutrients and minerals, and antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antioxidant. Coconut lowers blood sugar, protects the liver and improves immune function, making it a valuable food and medicine for people with PTSD.
Traditionally, indigenous peoples use coconuts as a source of protein and energy and medicinally for the treatment of protozoal infections.
In the Philippines and Mexico, coconut is also fermented into a probiotic-rich wine called "tuba." The water is used traditionally in rural areas for rehydration or when people are too ill to eat much solid food and is increasingly available in stores in the US. Coconut water has been used intravenously since it is isotonic and sterile while in the coconut.
Coconut oil consumption increases HDL levels and in so doing improves the cholesterol ratio, thus reducing risk of heart disease. Coconut oil does not increase cardiovascular risk, indeed it has many medicinal qualities.
Coconut provides a significant source of healthy fat that is rich in lauric and capric acids. Coconut oil is composed of mostly medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) in contrast to most fats, which are long chain fatty acids. MCFA do not circulate in the bloodstream to the degree that other fats do. As a result, they are much less likely to be incorporated into fat cells and do not collect in artery walls or contribute to hardening of the arteries.
MCFA are utilized primarily by the body to produce energy rather than body fat or arterial plaque. MCFA do not collect in the walls of arteries, and contrary to popular myth do not contribute to cardiovascular disease. Coconuts are protective against high levels of blood lipids and cardiovascular inflammation.
Studies of indigenous peoples worldwide who have a diet high in coconut and coconut oil demonstrate normal cholesterol levels and no signs of cardiovascular disease. Similar to the Inuit, who prior to colonization and development leading to nutrition trauma ate a diet consisting of mainly saturated fats and yet evidenced no cardiovascular disease.
Coconut oil is very heat stable so it makes an excellent cooking oil. It is slow to oxidize and thus resistant to rancidity. Coconut oil can be used in cooking and baking and also applied to the skin.
Lipids scientist Mary Enig recommends this ideal blend of oils for daily use in cooking:
1 cup of coconut oil, gently melted
1 cup of cold-pressed sesame oil
1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a glass jar, cover tightly, and store at room temperature.
Dr. Leslie Korn specializes in integrative mind body medicine for the treatment of PTSD and chronic illness. She did her graduate training at Harvard Medical School where she introduced bodywork to the department of psychiatry and conducted ethnobotanical research on Papaya. She began her research in Cabo Corrientes in 1974, and was a 2009-2010 Mexico Fulbright scholar. She currently divides her time between PV and Washington. To learn more about her work, visit DrLeslieKorn.com.
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